This is a multi-part review. Make sure to check the whole thing out with the links below!
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Hardware
- Part 3: Type Cover and Surface Pen
- Part 4: Performance, Where Art Thou?
- Part 5: Maximum Flexibility
- Part 6: Conclusion
Using the Surface Go for the past month has not made me want to give up my iPad Pro and switch to the Windows life, but it has made me look at the Mac with new eyes. Not so much macOS, which I still prefer over Windows for many, many reasons, but instead I'm looking at Mac hardware a bit differently.
From a hardware perspective, the Surface Go is very much an iPad competitor; it's a 10" touch screen that's exceedingly portable. But when it comes to software, this really is a traditional PC. That may be good or bad depending on what you want from a device like this, but I think it puts it in a weird middle ground that Apple is not covering right now, but I find very interesting.
So if you want a portable Mac today, you can get a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro. These are all very similar devices with varying levels of speed, screen size, and weight. There are other details, but we're essentially talking about 3 different clamshell devices that take up slightly different amounts of space in a bag. If you want a portable Mac, that's all you can choose from.
What the Surface Go (and much of the Surface line in general) offers is a full Windows experience in a form factor that's wildly flexible. Here are the many ways I've used the Go:
- "tablet mode" with no accessories and manipulating with touch
- "tablet mode" but with the Surface Pen
- "laptop mode" with the attached Type Cover
- "laptop mode" with a Bluetooth mechanical keyboard and mouse
- "desktop mode" by plugging into a 27" monitor
All of these setups are possible via an iPad and a Mac, but none of Apple's hardware can do it all. So despite my personal feeling about Windows, I would really enjoy this flexibility on a platform I enjoy using more.
My personal dream here is that the iPad grows into a desktop experience more than the Mac shrinking down into a tablet form factor. Almost 3x as many people buy iPads as Macs, so I'd expect that's the market Apple wants to grow too.
The bottom line here is that Microsoft has a device that has wonderful build quality, is super portable, and transitions to a desktop experience with ease. I don't plan on ditching any of my Apple hardware for this right now but what Microsoft is doing here with a device that works however you want, wherever you want is very appealing. Apple can get you here with a Mac and an iPad, but I'm very hopeful that they have a solution that matches the Surface Go's flexibility in the near future.