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Microsoft Surface Go Unveiled: Is This An iPad Killer?

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Microsoft just unveiled the Surface Go, its $399 iPad killer. Aesthetics-wise, it’s hard to tell apart from its Surface siblings, but it’s got a smaller chip, a somewhat less powerful processor, but can still run Windows 10 Pro.  ( Microsoft )

As it turns out, rumors about Microsoft releasing a cheaper Surface device are true. Meet the Surface Go, a $399 Surface device that's cheaper, less powerful, but far more compact than its bigger siblings.

Save for the processor and smaller 10-inch display, the Surface Go is basically a mirror image of previous Surface entries: it features an integrated kickstand, has large bezels all around the display, and is able to run either a standard version of Windows 10 or Windows 10 S.

The Surface Go becomes available for preorder starting July 10 and ships this August.

Surface Go Design

The Surface Go doesn't feature radical changes from a design perspective at all. It's probably best described as a shrunken down Surface Pro. The display has a 3:2 ratio, the kickstand is very flexible, and there's even Windows Hello integration thanks the front-facing camera. Microsoft also added a USB Type-C 3.1 port for charging and data transfers. Overall, this looks like the same Surface device fans have come to expect but in a more affordable package.

Surface Go Specs

More than anything, the Surface Go seems like Microsoft's direct response to Apple's entry-level $329 iPad, though it's slightly lighter and a bit thicker than Apple's machine. The Surface Go is powered by a dual-core, four-thread Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y chip. Microsoft says it's around 30 percent faster than the Surface 3's quad-core Atom. Sure, Microsoft could have put the latest-generation Intel chip on there — Pentium Gold 4415Y is seventh-generation — but it's clear the company isn't positioning the device as a high-end workstation. Instead, as Engadget notes, it's more of a secondary stopgap device people can use in case they don't have immediate access to a more powerful machine.

Surface Go Versions

The Surface Go has two variants: a $399 4 GB RAM version with 128 GB of SSD storage, or one with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage, which bumps the price up to $549. Microsoft says there's an LTE version arriving later this year too.

By default, the Surface Go will ship with Windows 10 S for consumers, and Windows 10 Pro for commercial users, but switching to standard Windows 10 shouldn't be that difficult. Like its siblings, the Surface Go supports a Type Cover keyboard, one which Microsoft had to redesign given the device's smaller size. Unfortunately, it's still a separate purchase for $99. The device also supports the $90 Surface Pen — sold separately too. Those who hate using trackpads can also opt for the $35 Surface Mobile Mouse, which looks and feels cheap but gets the job done.

It's too early to tell whether the Surface Go will be an iPad killer, but for what it's worth, Microsoft has added some really interesting elements to this device, particularly the USB Type-C port and the choice of Windows 10 S and Windows 10 Pro. Apple still somewhat dominates the tablet market, but the Surface Go seems like an excellent attempt to go after that throne. Time will tell.

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