Microsoft's Surface Go 2 tablet comes with more screen real estate, more power, same price

Microsoft's Surface Go 2 tablet comes with more screen real estate, more power, same price
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the second edition of Microsoft's smallest and cheapest in-house tablet has just been formally unveiled with minimal fanfare on the company's official Windows Blog

Even though the first-gen Surface Go is by no means the flashiest member of the popular family of ultraportable 2-in-1 PCs, today's upgrade would have certainly warranted some traditional announcement event excitement in a different public health context.

The Surface Go 2 may not look like a radical redesign of its 2018-released forerunner at first glance, but on closer inspection, you'll find both a major aesthetic change and a bunch of significant internal improvements made without hiking the reasonable $399 starting price.

Microsoft Surface Go 2 design, dimensions, and display

If you're the least bit familiar with the Surface Pro lineup, you've probably noticed Microsoft hasn't changed much about the appearance and general design language of its high-end Windows tablet over the years. One thing that's obviously different about last year's Surface Pro 7 in comparison with the original 2013 generation is the size of the screen bezels, which has gradually been reduced.

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It thus shouldn't come as a big surprise that the Surface Go 2 manages to squeeze a slightly larger 10.5-inch display into the exact same body of the 10-inch Surface Go. We're talking identical overall measurements of 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches, according to Windows Central, which means significantly slimmer borders are now surrounding the PixelSense panel of the Surface Go 2.

The display resolution is slightly improved as well, from 1800 x 1200 pixels to 1920 x 1280, although the 3:2 aspect ratio is naturally unchanged and the ppi density jumps from 217 to the 220 mark, which can only be described as an unnoticeable upgrade.

Processing power, battery life, memory, and storage

While no one ever expected the Surface Go to set the world on fire with its raw speed, it was still disappointing to see all variants, even the one supporting 4G+ connectivity, packing a modest Intel Pentium Gold processor. 

That changes with the Surface Go 2, which comes in both Pentium Gold and 8th Generation Core m3 options, the latter of which promises "up to 64% faster performance than the original" 10-inch slate. Of course, the Intel Pentium Gold configuration is itself bumped up from a 4415Y chip to a 4425Y delivering a much less significant speed enhancement.

Incredibly enough, the battery life is also improved from an official rating of "up to 9 hours of video playback" to as much as 10 hours of uninterrupted use between charges. That undoubtedly means Microsoft was able to squeeze a physically larger cell into the compact body of the Surface Go 2, which somehow only gains a little bit of weight, tipping the scales at 544 grams in Wi-Fi-only variants.

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The addition of a "dual microphone solution" for increased voice clarity and reduced background noise while video chatting is yet another notable upgrade, with the rest of the specs and features sounding awfully familiar as they include 64 and 128GB storage options, up to an 8GB RAM count, a 5MP front-facing camera, an 8MP rear-facing shooter, pre-installed Windows 10 S software, 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio technology, a headphone jack, microSD card slot, and USB Type-C port.

Pricing, availability, and competition

Coated in a single Platinum hue, just like its predecessor, the Surface Go 2 is set for a May 12 commercial debut in "select markets" (including the US) starting at only $399 for an Intel Pentium configuration with 4 gigs of memory and a 64GB eMMC drive. That's obviously not an ideal setup for speed junkies, which may want to consider spending $549 or $629 on 8GB RAM/128GB SSD variants with Intel Pentium Gold and Core m3 inside respectively.

Last but not least, those who want LTE Advanced speeds on top of Intel Core m3-8100Y muscle and a blazing fast 128 gig solid-state drive should start saving up so they can afford to pay as much as $729. None of those price points cover any optional accessories, like a productivity-enhancing keyboard or creativity-encouraging Surface Pen, but Microsoft is still in a decent position compared to some of its direct competition.

Apple's 2019-released iPad Air, for instance, costs $499 in a Wi-Fi-only 64GB variant and $629 with built-in cellular connectivity, while Samsung's 10.5-inch Galaxy Tab S6 starts at a fairly extravagant $650 with 128 gigs of internal storage space and a built-in S Pen, but only a small fraction of the Surface Go 2's productivity prowess.

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