Microsoft is taking aim at the iPad with a $399 tablet that runs in Windows S mode. It’s designed to be cheap and portable enough to throw in whatever bag you take with you.
The Surface line has a wide range of form factors and prices, but it’s always struggled to compete at the lower end of the price spectrum. The Surface Go might change that. The base model starts at $399, with a 10″ PixelSense display, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage, and an Intel Pentium Gold processor. This doesn’t make it the most powerful tablet in this category by a long shot, but it does bring the price closer to affordable for a lot more people.
The real limitations, it seems, are in the software. The tablet ships in Windows 10 S Mode, which only allows you to install apps from the Windows Store and browse with Microsoft Edge. Of course, as with all Windows devices, you can simply turn off S Mode, so you could just use it as a regular Windows device.
However, Windows isn’t quite as intuitive in a touch-only mode as an iPad or a Chromebook is, so you might want the Type Cover keyboard and case add-on. That will set you back an extra $99, which can start to push the Go into a price range that’s closer to a decent laptop. If you decide to get the upgraded version that comes with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, the base price is $549, plus the $99 Type Cover, and now you’re looking at $650 on a tablet that’s not quite as powerful as a similarly priced laptop and not as cheap as a more powerful iPad.
Still, if you’re in the Windows ecosystem, it can be an attractive proposition. Windows 10 may not be the ideal touch-based operating system, but it’s been steadily improving over the years and if you can work around some small annoyances, you can have all the tools you’d expect on a full Windows laptop in a lightweight form factor that you can easily take with you.
The Surface Go officially goes on sale in stores on August 2nd, but you can pre-order it right now.