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5 Things We Love About Microsoft's Surface Go With LTE

The CRN Test Center finds strong portability and performance for Microsoft’s budget-friendly LTE tablet for businesses.

Microsoft has been busy proving its commitment to its Surface business by launching a range of devices in varying form factors over the past year--with the Surface Go being the most portable (and affordable) member of the lineup.

But the compact-sized, 2-in-1 tablet is not just for budget-conscious consumers. Microsoft recently launched a cellular-enabled model of the device, the Surface Go with LTE Advanced, which is targeted at the business segment.

[Related: 5 Things To Know About Microsoft's Surface Go]

We've been trying out the device at the CRN Test Center, and found plenty to like about it with just a few downsides.

Among them: The battery life was modest (we got six hours on a charge) and the keyboard takes some getting used to as a result of its small size. The 2-in-1 also runs Windows 10 in S mode out of the box, meaning you'll need to switch to Windows 10 Home or Pro in order to run non-Microsoft Store apps (the Google Chrome browser, for instance, can't be used in S mode).

All-around, though, we think Microsoft's Surface Go with LTE Advanced is a great option for certain use cases in business.

What follows are our five favorite features on the Surface Go with LTE Advanced.

 

LTE

We think LTE connectivity is a game changer for business PC users. And it's not just about being "always connected." That's nice too, of course--you don't have to think about hunting down public Wi-Fi passwords when you're out and about, and can just stay focused on what you're doing. But it's the insecure nature of public Wi-Fi itself that strikes us as the bigger selling point for devices with LTE. The time could be coming soon when businesses start supplying cellular-ready devices such as the Surface Go with LTE Advanced, and then requiring that users simply turn off the Wi-Fi when they're outside the office. And the Surface Go is certainly one of the most affordable business-ready devices with LTE to hit the market so far.

 

Portability 

Having a device with LTE connectivity only makes sense if you're going to be frequently on the go, of course. And that's where we see the second biggest attraction of the Surface Go—it sports a very compact, portable size. At 1.7 pounds with the Type Cover—and a roughly 10-inch by 7-inch form factor—the Surface Go is practically negligible for carrying around in your bag, and easy to carry with one hand. There aren't many devices on the market right now in this form factor that are good for anything other than consumer purposes, meaning that the Surface Go with LTE Advanced is breaking some real ground here.

 

Performance

Honestly, we weren't expecting great performance from the Surface Go, which is configured with Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y chip (trailing the speed of the Intel Core i processors available with the Surface Pro and other PCs). But the performance isn't bad—it's not overwhelmingly noticeable that this is a slower machine than the typical PC in everyday use. Web pages loaded nearly as fast as we've come to expect from a modern notebook, and applications still performed briskly. It's worth noting that our model is configured with 8 GB of RAM, while the entry point with the tablet is for 4 GB of RAM, so that is surely helping with the performance. For many users without major performance demands from their applications, the Surface Go--especially when configured with 8 GB of RAM--should serve just fine.

 

Display

As with the performance, we were pleasantly surprised with the display quality on the Surface Go. While the 10-inch display features resolution that is sub-FHD, at 1,800 x 1,200 pixels, it looks better than that resolution to us. Perhaps that is just Microsoft's PixelSense display technology at work. The PixelSense LCD display looks vibrant and bright on the Surface Go, and it may just be rivaling Apple's Retina display in its ability to impress even without offering the highest-available pixel density.

 

Pricing

As mentioned, getting an LTE-enabled PC that rates high on portability and performance is generally not cheap in 2019. But the Surface Go with LTE Advanced, which is available from resellers as well as from Microsoft, stands out thanks to its pricing. For a model with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, pricing starts at $729 for the Surface Go with LTE Advanced. By comparison, the HP Envy x2—a 2-in-1 Windows tablet offering LTE connectivity—starts at $999.99 (and is not nearly as portable at 2.67 pounds, while only offering 4 GB of RAM at that price). For price-conscious businesses that still want to securely enable their mobile workforce, we think Microsoft's Surface Go with LTE Advanced is worth some serious consideration.

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