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Microsoft's cheapo Surface: Like a netbook you can't upgrade

When Go means slow

If you can put up with the slow speed, Microsoft's budget Surface Go offers a cheapskate alternative to the stylish but costly Surface Pro line, effectively reviving the Netbook concept a decade on.

The convertible slab is aimed at students and schools, but it's likely to be bought for field workers too.

The Surface Go bucks the trend set by Apple to remove everything but USB-C. Microsoft retained the microSD slot and audio port. It's also expandable via the Surface Dock, which provides gigabit Ethernet and four USB 3.0 ports, although this is almost half the price of the basic machine.

However, iFixit found it is no better than the more expensive sibling when it comes to DIY repairs – with its measly 26.12Wh battery glued in.

"If you're looking to save in the short term, you'll be paying for it in the long run when you're unable to upgrade the hardware, and the cemented-in battery wears itself out," the teardown specialists concluded.

The Go uses a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y chip and 4GB of RAM – although 8GB is an option – resulting in somewhat inhibited performance. Though that never seemed to bother enthusiasts who for a time, before the iPad was launched, flocked to netbooks.

The rise of the cheap Android tablet, and the success of Google's Chromebooks in education, seemed to ensure the market for underpowered but cheap PC laptops stayed dead. Asus called time after five years on the form factor back in 2012.

Microsoft hopes otherwise. ®

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