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2 Jul 2020

Just tested: is the Microsoft Surface Go 2 the Windows tablet to buy?

If you need a super-light laptop replacement, a tablet-laptop hybrid could be a good option. We've just tested the Surface Go 2 to see if it fits the bill

The latest tablet from the popular Surface line is the cheapest Microsoft-branded computer you can buy, but is it good value for money? We run through what you need to know and where the Go 2 fits into the Surface range.

Prices for the Surface Go 2 start at £399. This is admittedly more than an Apple iPad (which starts at £349), but for that you get a device that runs Windows 10 - an operating system that most of us will be familiar with.

However, the real appeal of the Surface Go 2 is its ability to turn into a laptop, meaning you don't have to make the choice between the portability of a tablet and the utility of a laptop.

Did the Surface Go 2 make it into our pick of the top tablets for 2020? Find out in our guide to the best tablets.

What does the Surface Go 2 have to offer?

For that £399 starting price, you get:

  • An Intel Pentium Gold processor
  • 4GB of Ram
  • 64GB of 'eMMC' storage.

We reckon this specification is fine for basic use, such as watching videos, sending some emails and browsing the web with a couple of browser tabs open.

The type of storage used (eMMC) is cheap and not particularly fast, though, so if you're time-poor (or just impatient), you might be better off going for a higher-range version.

To turn it into a laptop, you'll have to pay an additional £99 for the TypeCover keyboard.

Is it worth upgrading the spec?

Based on our previous testing of the original Surface Go, we've found that upgrading to a higher-specification device will make your laptop experience better.

The model we've run through our lab test is the mid-range one, which has twice the Ram - ideal for multi-tasking with several programs open at once - and double the storage.

This storage is also faster; instead of being eMMC, the mid-range model uses a solid-state drive (SSD), which means programs and files will open more quickly, and switching between tasks will feel a lot more sprightly, too.

The mid-range model will set you back £529, which is firmly into laptop pricing territory, and that's without shelling out the extra for the keyboard. Rather than price, then, the appeal for this device is its ultra-light weight (543g) and very compact size.

But can such a diminutive laptop-alternative really pack a punch where it needs to? Our tablet lab tests check everything from screen quality and battery life to how easy a device is to use, and how good the built-in speakers are.

Read our full Surface Go 2 review to see how it fared.

What else is in the Surface range?

If the Surface Go 2 is too basic for you, there are plenty of other Microsoft devices to choose from.

Surface Pro tablet range

The Surface Pro range starts at £879 for the latest Surface Pro 7, or £999 for the Surface Pro X, which claims extremely long battery life and 4G connectivity.

Both these tablets are akin to high-end laptops but, again, need to be bought with a keyboard to get the most out of them.

Their advantage lies in their light weight and compact size, which make them easier to carry around than a typical laptop. It means you can have a small device without having to compromise on speed.

Read our full Surface Pro X and Surface Pro 7 reviews to see how they fared in the labs.

Surface Laptop 3 range

If you want a complete laptop, the Surface Laptop 3 range is probably more your bag, coming in a choice of 13.5 or 15-inch screen sizes.

At a minimum the laptops have quad-core Intel Core or AMD Ryzen processors making them ideal, on paper, for multimedia work including photo editing and creating videos.

Laptop 3 prices start at £999. Read our full Surface Laptop 3 13 and Surface Laptop 3 15 reviews to see whether these laptops live up to their prices.

Three 10-inch tablet alternatives

If you don't need a tablet that can turn into a laptop, consider these three cheaper alternatives running on iOS, Android and Amazon's Fire OS.

Apple iPad 2019, £329

The cheapest iPad still boasts some top-end features including Apple's speedy A10 Fusion processor and a high-resolution screen. Its app store is loaded with good software, too, and is £60 cheaper than the bottom-spec Surface Go 2.

Amazon Fire HD 10, £159

One of the cheapest 10-inch tablets you can buy, Amazon's Fire HD 10 should be fine for the very basics. It won't be the fastest or have the best screen, but if you only want a device for browsing the web and watching a few videos, it could hit the spot.

Read our Amazon Fire HD 10 review to find out the full score.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e, £329

This mid-range Android tablet from Samsung ticks a lot of boxes, and while it is only a little cheaper than the Surface Go 2, this means it could be neck-and-neck in terms of features, battery life and screen quality. If you don't need it to be a laptop, this could be a handy way of saving a few quid.

Prices correct as of 2nd July 2020.