Surface Book 3 (13-Inch, Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 256-GB SSD) costs $1,600 at Microsoft’s Store or $1,500 at Amazon

The Best Compromise Device

Photograph: Microsoft

Microsoft’s newest Surface device is a stripped down, dare I say cute, little laptop that is to the Surface Laptop as the Surface Go 2 is to the Surface. That is, the “Go” moniker means the emphasis is on portability, not power. The Surface Laptop Go won’t wow you by acing benchmark tests, but it is very portable and stylish. It’s a lot of fun to use, too.

It’s small and svelte, with clean lines and a nice solid feel—something that’s rare at this price. The top is aluminum and the bottom is polycarbonate resin, which is stiffer and stronger than your typical laptop plastic. It feels like a $1,000 laptop, but it does make some compromises to keep the price so low. The biggest is the sub-par screen, which is not even HD (1080p) resolution. That means text can appear slightly pixelated.

Still, if you like the portability of the Surface Go hybrid, but want the more traditional clamshell design, the Surface Laptop Go is an excellent option. There are three configurations available, all using the same Intel i5 chip, but varying in RAM and SSD size. The middle option is the best value, offering 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 128 gigabyte SSD. The low end model is $550, but only has 4 gigabytes of RAM, which won’t get you far these days.

Surface Laptop Go (8 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD) costs $700 at Microsoft’s Store or $700 at Amazon

Caveats

Even though the Surface lineup has never been as diverse as it is now, there are still some imperfections that may impact your enjoyment of a shiny new Microsoft computer. The first annoyances begin when you add a device to your cart. If you’re grabbing a Surface hoping to use the famous, fabulous Surface Pen with it, you’ll need to buy it separately. In years past, the Surface Pro and the Surface Book included the Pen, but that’s no longer the case.

Ports are another mixed bag for Surface devices. You’ll find USB-C ports throughout the Surface line, but there’s still no support for Thunderbolt 3. You get the connector support but not the full speed. Despite the USB-C ports, Microsoft stuck with its magnetic Surface Connect charger (confusingly, you can charge with USB-C too). If you miss Apple’s MagSafe era this isn’t a bad thing, but if you’re looking forward to a one-connector future, Microsoft hasn’t properly delivered on that yet.



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