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Microsoft launches budget-friendly Surface Go tablet – perfect for students?

New tablet is aimed at the younger generation, but this is more than just a homework machine

Microsoft has announced its first new Surface tablet in more than a year. The new Surface Go is priced at £379, and Microsoft is targeting the same audience as Apple did with its most recent iPad: school students. But despite the jaunty name, the Go isn’t child’s play and could in fact be an ideal laptop for any buyer on a mid-range budget.

This tablet has a 10-inch display and weighs in at half a kilo, making it lightweight enough to chuck into a shoulder bag with ease. It’s substantially smaller and lighter than the current Surface Pro, which as a large, 12.5-inch screen. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean the Go doesn’t pack a punch; the screen in use is a high-resolution 1,800×1,200-pixel touch display, which is higher resolution than many smaller tablets.

Our guide to the Best Buy laptops showcases the very best from our tests.

What’s new with the Surface Go?

Inside you get an Intel Pentium Gold processor, 4GB of Ram and 64GB of flash storage, though higher-end models get more Ram and faster storage.

To get proper work done you’ll also need a keyboard, and Microsoft has also launched a selection of keyboard covers for doing just that. You’ll have to pay extra for the keyboard, as you also will for the Surface Pen, neither of which come bundled with the tablet.

It comes with Windows 10 installed, but by default it runs in so-called ‘S-mode’, which is a slightly more locked-down version of Windows that only allows you to install apps available in the Windows Store. If you prefer a bit more freedom, you can unlock full Windows for free in a couple of steps.

Microsoft is claiming nine hours of battery life, which should be enough for all-day working if it turns out to be accurate. However, most manufacturer battery claims are wide of the mark so we’ll have to wait for our lab test to assess it properly.

The Surface Go is available to pre-order right now, with the first deliveries coming on 23 August. Read our first impressions in our Surface Go non-tested review.

Two rivals for the Surface Go

Microsoft is up against some stiff competition in the sub-£500 tablet/laptop space, and while its familiar branding and use of Windows 10 will get it a long way, there’s plenty of competition. Here are two alternatives available to buy right now.

2018 9.7-inch iPad, £319

The latest 9.7-inch iPad is the cheapest Apple tablet you can buy new. Priced at £319, it costs a full £60 less than Microsoft’s offering, and even if you buy the Logitech keyboard case recommended by Apple, you’ll only just tip over the £400 mark, whereas the Surface Go will cost almost £500 with the keyboard. It could be well worth a look if you just need a tablet for note-taking and web browsing.

Read our full 9.7-inch iPad review

Linx 12×64, £180

The Linx 12×64 costs just £180 and comes complete with a keyboard, making it a tempting budget option. It’s no powerhouse, with just a basic Intel Atom processor and 4GB of Ram, but with its sub-1kg weight and Full HD touchscreen, if you just want to get some very light work done on the go, it could be a good option.

Read our full Linx 12×64 review

Find out what else the Surface Go is up against in our round up of the best cheap tablets for 2018.

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