Review (short): Microsoft Surface GO, the ideal adv-riders laptop??

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by EastRoad, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. EastRoad

    EastRoad Road Viking Supporter

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    I thnink 16GB is not necessary on *most* devices... unless you do some real heavy computing.
    For one, OS's have generally become better at memory management over the past... this is why you can even get away with a 4GB System these days...
    My 2013 Macbook Pro has 8GB... Do I wish it had 16GB? sometimes but it's rare to to max it out RAM wise to a degree which sees it struggle with performance... including working with Photoshop and Final Cut Pro... arguably both can leverage the Graphichs Processor & dedicated graphics adapter ram quite a bit... making these components a lot more important in my opinion.

    I'd say once you know you actually would benefit from a System running at 16GB of Ram ... you're looking at a rather different computer than an ultra portable by definition. I have yet to see one ultra portable device with a proper dedicated graphics adapter, enough ram on that adapter, highest speed on board RAM, really fast SSD drives (apparently another difference between the basic 4GB Surface GO and the slightly more expensive 8GB model... the first uses "inexpensive" eMMC Flash storage, the latter "proper" SSD type storage... ) ...
    So at that point we're looking at the higher end models from any manufacturer anyhow.

    Thus I think 8GB is sort of the sweet spot to strike both a price vs. power and actual real-use usuability for ultra portable devices.
    I also think with a bit of "future-proofing" (say, 2-4 yr term) I'd say buying a device with only 4GB ram would be what you'd regrett pretty fast.
    #21
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  2. a57m2000

    a57m2000 Been here awhile

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    Exactly had in mind working with Photoshop, and larger photo file 50 MB + /Sigma RAW files/, but it is hobby, not work related.
    If this Lenovo it is only 4 GB RAM is not worth considering, will see in October,
    #22
  3. team ftb

    team ftb Befuddled Adventurer

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    A datapoint for you guys. Years ago I was looking for a small form factor PC to utilize on my DS riding trips. On anything more than 2 days I take my Surface Pro. As stated the form factor is fantastic and I use google earth on trips to ferret out off road trails, then create tracks and transfer them to my GPS. For this usage I prefer full windows and so bellied up to my first Surface Pro computer.

    [​IMG]

    All my riding is DS with a concentration on offroad. I carry the Surface Pro in a foam protective case housed in a waterproof drybag in my backback.

    [​IMG]


    The durability gets tested as I hit the ground all too often, and below 1 second later drowned the bike here.

    [​IMG]


    So how has it worked for me??? In a word horrible. Don't get me wrong the form factor is fantastic and when it works its fantastic. However the longest I have had one last is 7 months before the computer has failed to operate. Not just one activity I cannot utilize like a USB port or Touchscreen function. The Surface Pro has small frustrating things begin to surface and then a week later it will get to the point of not turning on. Despite numerous resets, Surface Pro diagnostic software troubleshooting etc. Thinking I just got a bad example I got another, and that stopped functioning. Despite all the tech help and diagnosing my motherboards fail. I have not cracked a screen yet. Having it mounted between a 3 liter water bladder and the foam backing of my backpack probably helps to some degree. However I am on my FOURTH !!!! The fourth one has had it's touchscreen stop functioning after one month with no offroading, just testing in the house. After my experience I will tell you they have not lasted at all well for me. Keep in mind before Surface Pro's I was using an 8" Lenovo with traditional Hard drive. That lasted a year before the Hard Drive failed. Tis to be expected a traditional Hard drive would fail over time with my offroading. However it lasted longer than any of my Surface Pro's. In Hindsight I should have just kept replacing the Harddrive and once SSD's were cost efficient plugged one of them in.

    I still have my fourth Surface Pro but it is relegated to shelf duty now because of my lack of confidence in their build quality.

    I have replaced it with a used Dell Venue Pro 8" tablet with full windows

    [​IMG]

    Packs even smaller, full Windows and after 6 months still running. Jury is still out though until I get a year of off-roading on it.

    I paid top dollar for the supposed build quality of the Surface Pro computers and was well pissed when they would fail on me in the field multiple times. I have owned Sirface Pro 3 as well as 4. My small basic PC's I've owned before fared much better and were pennies in comparison.

    Keep in mind my PC's get used at home and packed into my backpack on trips. They get used. A lot of people post reviews of products. Some may not have put the product through the conditions I have and tout their reliability. I certainly wish I had their happy results but I have not.

    My Samsung phones are kept in my Klim pants pocket and have never suffered more than a cracked screen (not the products fault). I wish the Surface Pro were as durable.

    Best of luck.
    #23
  4. Uetliberg

    Uetliberg There you go...

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    Hmm, if a product would really fail that often - over all the world wide customer base and multitude of use cases - as the SP line does with you, the product would have been withdrawn from the market a long time ago. While I can see that the way you use the device on the bike makes it more likely to malfunction or break irrespective of the user, I cannot take your experience as a valid general statement of the products reliability when the thing alread breaks down when you use it in your home. Either you have been delivered freakishly exceptional bad devices. Or your handling of the device is freakishly bad. Boils fown to a question of likelyhoods.
    #24
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  5. EastRoad

    EastRoad Road Viking Supporter

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    I can't yet comment on the long term reliability of the device, I'll update this a year down the road.
    hopefully my experience will be better than yours.

    But here's a thing: Samsung Phones?? screw them...
    I've had a few, and not the cheapest models either.
    They all started to behave erratic, loose their charge, some chose to reboot several times during the day, some would charge to 100% no problem, only to drop to 12% 20 minutes later.
    but frankly, the three devices I had obviously don't reflect your samsung experience... mine's been horrible ... ;)
    #25
  6. Monte Walsh

    Monte Walsh Adventurer

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    Just went thru this exercise. Powering the bigger Surface models is an issue on the road if you don't have constant access to AC. Costco has a special version of the Go that has 4GB/128SSD/keyboard for $679 here in Canada. Was all set to buy one, but then discovered the ASUS Transformer Mini TF103 with 4GB/128eMMC for $408, and it also includes the pen. Atom processor is definitely a limiting factor. Just spent 2 days doing all the Windows updates and loading and configuring software. Will see how it does. Definitely will be less concerned if it dies or gets stolen than a Surface Pro or XPS13
    #26
  7. EastRoad

    EastRoad Road Viking Supporter

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    hope you'll be happy with the Asus TF103...
    Used to have one of the older models for a very brief moment (returned it)...
    The Atom CPU and 4GB of Ram made it rather sluggish once you had more than a few tabs open in a browser or did multi-task.
    Also the 10" Screen was rather uninspiring at 1280x800 or something like that.
    also utilising eMMC storage rather than SSD was not something I was keen on in regards to performance.
    it might have changed performance wise for the better with the latest gen though.


    A word on powering the surface Go:
    I use an AUKEY 3 Port USB-C Charger.. the thing has two standard USB 3.0 Ports, but once you take the "cap" off it shows a single USB-C Port designed for charging small laptops, etc... then I added a USB-C to USB-C CHARGING (not DATA... important) cable... and that charges the Surface Go easily...
    I'd say about comparatively similar as the orignal supplied charger does.
    For me this has eliminated the need to carry yet another dedicated charger... I can charge all mobile devices I have using the AUKEY charger...
    I also have a small mid-price range USB-C hub that has ONE USB-C charge-through port, ONE USB 3.0 Port for say, memory sticks, cameras, etc... and one HDMI port ... it's really compact... and works charmingly well.


    However I doubt this would work for the Surfce Pro 4, as it does not have a built in USB-C Port...
    MS Sells a USB-C dongle for it though, which is huge and cumbersome, and I don't know whether it's capable of charging... but it defies the usability a bit.
    #27
  8. team ftb

    team ftb Befuddled Adventurer

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    Haha I would have read my post and come to conclusion that I must be pounding 16 penny nails with my Surface Pro due to the failure rate. Sadly the truth is they were used as my daily PC on a coffee table, and tablet on the sofa, then put in my backpack for my trips. Nothing out of normal other than the off road trips. My experience is simply a data point for people to consider. Whether you view it as relevant or not is your decision.

    I encourage you to (as another poster also suggested) research the failure rate of the Pro. They have had numerous issues with battery life, cracked screen, screen flickering, shutting off etc. I'm not the only gent that's bought one and had issues. My other friend in Cambodia is on his second one due to cracked screen, and battery swelling. I've simply had rotten luck trying to put them through a life that my other portable Laptops have endured with far better reliability.

    The old 8" I used for a year before the traditional hard rive failed is still running with a new hard drive with no other issues. I donated it to a local Thai mechanic here that has helped me dozens of times with things and it is running problem free since 2011. I have an old 2008 HP 17" that has been problem free except needing a new battery. The used Dell Venue 8 Pro I purchased (to replace my Surface Pro) has been in used since 2013 when I got ahold of it six months ago. It has been off-road with me about 24 days so far and still running with no issues 6 months later. All the above PC's have superseded the 8 month long service life I get out of my Surface Pro and I have had both SP 3, 4, and the new no model number designated. All have failed and needed to be sent back to MSFT. A friend put me in touch with an IT guy at a company that has 700 Surface Pro's amongst their workforce and they are removing them from service due to their unreliability. Had I known this fact earlier I would not have purchased it.

    As I've mentioned I'm a single bit of beta for one to utilize or not in determining if the MSFT Surface Pro is what you would like. I sincerely hope the original poster has much better luck than I with his Surface Go.

    Cheers.
    #28
  9. team ftb

    team ftb Befuddled Adventurer

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    Exactly, everyone has different experiences and we can share with the forum and let people make their mind up. Yes the battery I replace every 2 years. I can deal with that issue. I've had a waterproof phone, with SD card for additional memory since the S4 Galaxy. They have worked for me.

    Again best of the luck with the Go!!!
    #29
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  10. jack4allfriends

    jack4allfriends n00b

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    Might check GPD Pocket 2 - normal i3 processer, 8gh ram, full win, 500g, very small form factor
    #30
  11. brianpc

    brianpc Long timer Supporter

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    I've heard they don't make / offer them anymore, but anyone using a 13" macbook air? I love my 13" macbook pro for everyday use, but I wish it was lighter. I used to have an air and it was perfect for traveling and motorcycling trips, but I upgraded to a pro to run the heavier / newer software and do video editing stuff.. Nowadays with everything being cloud saves, I don't need a lot of disk space for a travel computer and I like something more 'laptop' form factor than an iPad (for writing), and another macbook air (probably a used one or leftover one at this point) might fit the bill. Macbooks (airs and pros) have always seemed to be durable as hell for me from travel.
    #31
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  12. EastRoad

    EastRoad Road Viking Supporter

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    I used to have the 11" Macbook Air - excellent travelling device... fully powered...
    it is the one apple model that I think they should have developed further... but I guess it would have seriously hurt their iPad pro sales.
    #32
  13. EastRoad

    EastRoad Road Viking Supporter

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    I don't know what the status on that is, it was from what I recall a crowd-funding project...?

    Anyhow when I had a brief look at it (on the internet) I decided to drop the interest in it... two reasons mainly:
    - 7" display... this is tiny... it's essentially a large smartphone... ... no matter how good a keyboard you design, fitting it on a 7" screen will make it more than just cramped...
    - i3 CPU isn't the most battery friendly out there either.. and again . 7 " device will struggle to have a large enough battery to get through with it.
    that was one of the reasons smaller devices used to go with Atom CPUs or nowdays Intel's m3 / m5 CPUs ... lower power consumption... usually these also stay cool enough to allow for a full fanless design easier...

    there were a bunch of other reasons against it , imho.

    frankly anything under 9" is barely useful as a computer replacement...
    I mean if I'd want smaller I can take a small, well designed Bluetooth foldable keyboard and a mini-mouse and connect both to either any android smartphone or small tablet.
    low cost... and enough to get some typing done...

    I used an iPad mini for some time - excellent for reading web pages... but anything slightly more work related, the thing was just too tiny.

    the Surface Go with it's 10" is sort of the best SIZE compromise I was able to find... so was the iPad 9.7-10" (non pro / pro)...

    my daily computer (the 13" macbook pro) is about ideal for most serious work - but I find 12-13" just a tad too large for travelling purposes.
    But anyhting sub-9" is simply not that useful in reality (at least to me...)
    so the 10-11" range is sort of ideal.
    #33
  14. dpike

    dpike BeeKeeper Supporter

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    /bump .. 9 months later

    hows the Surface Go ? still like it or has it started to show flaws ?
    #34
  15. EastRoad

    EastRoad Road Viking Supporter

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    Short: still bloody awesome.. ;)

    A little bit more details:
    I've taken the surface along quite a few trips... moto, backpacking etc... it's now on the very latest iteration of Win 10 (1903) with a few notable improvements in SPEED and stability (not that it was anywhere bad before, but it's actually improved further).

    The device itself has so far fared extremely well... there's nothing mechanically ill with it nor have I been able to find any real problems... all in all it has performed well beyond what I had hoped it would.

    Also for about a month it served as my daily computer as the macbook pro finally had sort of decided to play dead.

    the device has proven to be reliable and actually as the macbook pro has dropped dead, I actually didn't buy another macbook pro, but rather went for the latest surface pro 6 in a mid-range spec to replace my main work computer... which it has done flawlessly... the Surface GO was the main reason to buy the larger Surface pro 6 as my daily computer... they play together quite well.

    for compact travel I do prefer the Surface GO still... the USB-C chargeability, the overall form and weight factor and the immensly useful keyboard make it a complete winner in the travel compartment.
    And I was suprised how well it worked as daily office computer too.. .albeit of course for lots of heavy image editing it lacks the power and video editing is also slow (but sort-of-do-able) on it.
    But again, it excells at being a near perfect travel companion.
    #35
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  16. dceggert

    dceggert Been here awhile

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    I picked one up (Surface Go) to replace my aging and slow Surface 3. Together with my Aukey solar powered battery pack I have used the Surface 3 as my chartplotter on my sailboat. The Surface Go is a great upgrade. I got the 'small business' version with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD. It also came with 4G but I just tether my cell to it for access. I figure I can slide it into a gallon Ziploc bag and use it on the bike as well. Pretty awesome little machine and it is my new go anywhere note taker for work, hobbies, charitable events, and my new pursuits as an MSF Coach.

    My 'main machine' has been an HP Elite X2 1012 for the last 3 years but that doesn't fit on an airplane tray table very well and it needs a proprietary charger and doesn't work with the battery pack.

    I am looking to pick up a rugged case for it soon.

    The Go is a portable wonder!
    #36
  17. dpike

    dpike BeeKeeper Supporter

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    i fingered a Go in Bust Buy yesterday slick device but it seem a little too small, the Pro6 and Laptop 2 felt really nice tho. then once that started i strolled down the isles with other 13" laptops and absolutely everything feels better than the franken'aspire that i'm using now.... fuck, now i have no god damn idea what i want.
    #37
  18. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    If I needed a full fat computer for travel, something like a Surface Go would be on the short list, for sure. Fortunately, when I need something like that, my work provides a laptop. Unfortunately, it's not nearly as clever and sexy as a Surface.

    I've got a hand-me-down 13" MacBook Air that I pretty much only use for photo editing, which is not very often. I think I brought it with me once on a short trip.

    For personal travel, I go one of two ways

    For 'regular' travel (car, plane, etc) I bring an Asus Chromebook flip, 10" model: https://www.amazon.com/Chromebook-C...rds=asus+flip&qid=1561142010&s=gateway&sr=8-7

    It does everything I need for personal use (stay connected, stream video, etc), includes the keyboard and trackpad, and can turn into a tablet. I find the ability for the keyboard to flip all the way back invaluable when on airplanes which don't have seatback screens - I can flip this thing inside out and hang it from the magazine rack and viola - instant seatback entertainment. The keyboard is small, so a quick post or email is fine. More than that and the ergonomics will catch up with you.

    For my use, it only lacks in 2 areas - it has a proprietary charger, which is a pain - I have to bring it, and I have to use AC wall power. The good news is the battery seems to last a while. And, it runs a Chromebook OS, which doesn't always play nice with things like an American Airlines app for watching streaming content on a flight (though I haven't tried it with others, and haven't tried it recently). The website you connect to doesn't seem to recognize it as either a laptop or a mobile device, so you get nowhere. My workaround has been to download content from NetFlix ahead of time or at the airport.

    If I'm moto-traveling, I use a bluetooth keyboard paired to my phone. The screen is limiting, but this is enough to keep me connected and even allows to me to make ride report posts while on a trip (the entirety of my 2015 RR in my sig was made this way). They don't make the unit I have anymore, but it's most like this one (though I paid a lot less... I think less than $20): https://www.amazon.com/ZAGG-Univers...zagg+bluetooth+key,aps,212&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

    Again, size is small so if you need to write a novel you'll want something bigger. The beauty in this setup is I already have the device, which has proven reliable and durable (I use a Samsung Galaxy S9 currently). The battery lasts FOREVER on the keyboard, and the phone can be charged from a power brick if I'm using it a lot without access to charge it.

    I am considering bringing the Asus on my next moto trip to see how it goes - the larger screen would be handy and it isn't that much larger than the keyboard.
    #38