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Few tech products in this world warrant a voiceover from late NFL Films narrator John Facenda, but we’ll make an exception for Microsoft’s Special Edition NFL Type Cover, which seems deserving of the “voice of god.”
Only Cleveland fans could tell that the NFL Type Cover has the Browns’ “new” logo.
As the NFL is basically a money-printing machine, the cost to get your team logo isn’t cheap. A standard Type Cover can be found for as little as $101 on Amazon. A Type Cover with the nifty integrated fingerprint reader for Windows Hello is $135. The NFL Special Edition Type Cover will set you back $159. Ouch.
That makes it as expensive as Microsoft’s fancy Signature Type Cover, and that’s made with a luxury material we can’t even pronounce called Alcantara. So yeah, you’re paying for some player’s Cadillac Escalade and for an owner’s private jet, but at least you’ve got team spirit.
Gordon Mah Ung
It’s sad that when being used, you won’t be able to troll fans of competing teams. But maybe that was done for the vast majority of teams that won’t make the playoffs this year.The Design
I do take issue with the design choice of the NFL Type Cover. Each team’s logo is placed on the back of the Type Cover and is offset, so it covers the fold.
Maybe it’s me or my lack of design aesthetics, but I would prefer to see the entire logo on the back and centered. The logo itself is also only on the back the NFL Type Cover. When you’re using your Surface, the logo is hidden. That’s a big problem if you’re a Denver Broncos fan and you want to troll Panthers fans while you sit in a cafe in Charlotte, North Carolina.
If you’re rolling a Surface Pro 4 and its included keyboard, the only thing you get out of this is a fresh keyboard and team pride. For superfans, that’s worth it. For others, it’s a steep price price to pay when you could just put a $3 sticker on your current Type Cover keyboard. The NFL Type Cover lacks a fingerprint reader option, too.
Gordon Mah Ung
The keys are tighter, the trackpad larger and overall, it’s a great upgrade—for Surface Pro 3 users.A nice upgrade for Surface Pro 3 users
Having used the Surface Pro 3 for a year, I considered its keyboard to be the standard that other tablet keyboards should strive for. After using the NFL Type Cover, I realize the bar has been raised. With the NFL Type Cover’s better key pitch, and tighter, less rattle-prone keys, I found myself making far few typos. The trackpad is larger and feels smoother, too—a big improvement.
If you go this route, just remember there’s no pen loop with the NFL Type Cover because it’s made for the loop-equipped Surface Pro 4, so you’ll have to buy an optional pen loop for $5.
Gordon Mah Ung
The trackpad is larger, and smoother than the one on the Surface Pro 3’s. I do miss that pen loop though because the Surface Pro 3 lacks the magnetic pen.Conclusion
For the Surface Pro 3 user though, it’s something to strongly consider. By now, after a year or two of use, your Surface Pro 3 keyboard is probably as janky as mine. An upgrade to the NFL Type Cover breathes more life into the still-usable Surface Pro 3 and lets you represent at the same time.
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The Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition gives a great gaming laptop a glamorous look, but you pay a premium for the gorgeous eye candy. And the keyboard backlighting is atrocious.
Acer’s Predator Helios 300 Special Edition adds a touch of class to the bang-for-buck $1,100 gaming laptop we fell in love with earlier this year.
This laptop ships with a matching mousepad, mouse, and earbuds, and Acer gave the Special Edition a faster processor and blazing-fast 144Hz display upgrade. But the base black-and-red Predator Helios 300 received the same internal upgrades—and it costs significantly less on the street. At $1,400 on Newegg, can the Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition still be considered an appealing bang-for-buck gaming laptop? Let’s dig in.Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition specs, features, and price
The Special Edition remains largely the same under the hood, delivering plenty of power for 1080p gaming. Here’s what’s inside:
CPU: Core i7-8750H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
RAM: 16GB DDR4/2666
Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD
Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Display: 15.6-inch 1920×1080 144Hz IPS
Ports: 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI, SD card reader, ethernet, headphone jack, lock slot
Weight: 5.95 pounds
Dimensions: 15.4 x 10.5 x 1.1 inches
The 1080p display also received an upgrade, going from 60Hz up to a buttery-smooth 144Hz, though the GeForce GTX 1060 GPU inside won’t be able to push most games anywhere near that fast. If you don’t mind bumping graphics settings from Ultra down to High to gain more speed, it’ll be a welcome upgrade, though, and the IPS display offers wide viewing angles. The Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition’s screen shines brighter than its predecessor, too, rated for up to 300 nits compared to the 230 nits we measured on the standard model.
I wish the keyboard backlighting were brighter, though. And better.
Ah, it’s much better with the backlighting off completely.
Flipping the laptop over reveals an abundance of ventilation to help the heavy-hitting gaming hardware stay cool. A few simple Phillips screws are all that’s keeping you from the storage and memory lurking inside the Special Edition. That’s a good thing, because like the standard edition, the Helios 300 Special Edition’s Achilles Heel lies in its scant storage capacity. You only get 256GB of SSD storage in the laptop, or about enough space to hold two or three of today’s bloated AAA games and your Windows install. Acer also includes a moderate amount of bloatware on the Special Edition, not counting its PredatorSense app, which further eats into your available storage.
Replacing the Special Edition’s SSD and memory is easy-peasy.Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition performance
Storage capacity aside, the Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition packs hardware with some serious game. To see how it handles, we’re comparing it against similarly priced laptops in a bevy of benchmark tests, including the $1,500 Dell XPS 15 9570 with a Core i7-8750H and a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti; the $1,200 Dell G7 15 7588 (phew!) with an 8750H and a GTX 1060 Max-Q; and Acer’s older Helios 300 with a quad-core Core i7-7700HQ processor. The Dell XPS 15 isn’t technically a gaming laptop—it’s more of a mainstream workhorse with a splash of gaming on the side.
Brad Chacos/IDG Brad Chacos/IDG Brad Chacos/IDG
But Cinebench’s benchmark runs in a short duration. The file we encode in our CPU-intensive HandBrake test (which uses an older version of the software) takes around 45 minutes on a quad-core processor, or as you can see from these benchmarks, just over a half-hour on the new breed of Intel hexa-core chips. HandBrake loves the extra hardware inside Intel’s 8th-gen chips.
Here, you see the difference the Special Edition’s GTX 1060 makes, because it packs the same Core i7-8750H processor as the Dell duo. It leaves the Dell XPS 15 and its GTX 1050 Ti in the dust and clocks in a bit ahead of the Dell G7 15’s more energy-efficient (read: slower) GTX 1060 Max-Q. The older, slower quad-core chip in the previous Helios 300 drags its score down to the Dell G7’s level despite packing the same GTX 1060 as the Special Edition.
But let’s get to the actual games! We compare laptop gaming performance at 1080p resolution to standardize results across the board, using the in-game benchmarks included with each title. We rely on older titles, as newer games frequently receive updates that can wreak havoc on performance comparisons.
Brad Chacos/IDG Brad Chacos/IDG Brad Chacos/IDG
The GTX 1060 inside the Special Edition easily clears 60 frames per second across the board, and the overall results show how your graphics card is usually the main differentiator in games. The older Helios 300 keeps pace with the newer Special Edition despite having a much slower CPU, while the lesser-powered GPUs in the Dell laptops don’t quite. The Dell G7’s energy-efficient GTX 1060 Max-Q is only a hair behind, though.
The Special Edition disappoints when it comes to battery life, though. Despite having the exact same battery capacity of the older Helios 300, it died nearly 3 hours sooner than its predecessor our battery run-down test (which consists of looping a 4K video in the Windows 10 Movies and TV player with audio at 50 percent until the machine gives up the ghost). The Special Edition only lasted 3 hours and 47 minutes total, and I ran the test multiple times to confirm it. The Dell G7 and its GTX 1060 Max-Q lasted 100 minutes longer, and the Dell XPS 15 lasted a whopping 14-plus hours total (though it’s not really a dedicated gaming laptop).
You can probably chalk up the vastly decreased battery life to the vastly increased CPU core count and display speed, and the fact that the original Helios 300’s screen is exceptionally dim—it can’t even reach the 250 to 260 nits we standardize around in our testing. But seeing where Dell’s 8750H-equipped laptops lie, the showing from Acer’s Predator Helios 300 Special Edition is…not so special.Should you buy the Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition?
It depends on how much value you put in aesthetics.
That cost chasm makes otherwise acceptable drawbacks in the Helios 300 less palatable in the Special Edition. The scant 256GB of storage is a disappointment in both models. Chunky bezels, some plastic design materials, and a relatively dim display aren’t major compromises when you’re getting the Helios 300’s stellar gaming performance at a just-as-stellar price. When you’re paying an extra $300 for a new paint job, though, the details matter. And the Special Edition’s white keyboard with white backlighting is awful.
The mouse and mousepad that ships with the Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition. It also comes with earbuds.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Review
Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover attempts to address those concerns. It’s definitely slim, clipping to the iPad 2 or new iPad using the same Smart Cover magnet technology as Apple’s own flip-covers, and roughly doubling the thickness and adding a few ounces of weight. Open it up, and that same magnet tech kicks the iPad out of standby (and vice-versa when you close it again).
Actually using it requires pulling the iPad away and slotting it into a grove along the upper edge of the keys themselves. The slot itself has magnets to keep the iPad in place, and has just enough room to accommodate the tablet even when wearing a case. It’ll have to be a reasonably slim case, mind; bulkier leather folios will need to be removed. It’s also worth noting that the magnets only line up when the iPad is fitted in landscape orientation; in portrait orientation, you’re relying on the grip of the slot alone to keep things upright, though that certainly proved sufficient in our testing.
In landscape mode, however, you can grab the iPad and lift the whole assembly up, the keyboard clinging to the bottom. The keys themselves are hard plastic, rather than rubber, and flat-topped, with a chiclet design similar to Apple’s own MacBook Pro. It’s not a full-sized layout – the iPad isn’t big enough to accommodate it – but it’s spacious enough, and has sufficient travel, for decent typing speeds rather than the stab-and-peck of other ‘boards we’ve seen.
There are also a number of function keys for iPad-specific features. Triggered by holding down the Fn button and hitting one of the number-row buttons, they include volume up/down/mute, lock, cute/copy/paste, play/pause, search, and quick access to the browser. It’s also possible to select one word at a time, either behind or ahead of the cursor, without having to perform the usual tap-and-hold to pull up the precise selection loupe.
The Logitech’s iPad-matching aluminum casing certainly feels the part, though given it’ll spend its time flat on the table and has no rubber feet to support it, we’re expecting scratches sooner rather than later. A slip-case to accommodate both Ultrathin Keyboard Cover and the iPad itself would be a useful addition, especially given the magnets keeping the two paired can be overcome by a sideways shove.
Bluetooth is used to hook the two sections up, meaning no awkward cords between tablet and keyboard, and we noticed no latency or delay issues. A microUSB cable recharges the non-replaceable battery, and thanks to some aggressive power management Logitech predicts up to six months of runtime from a single charge; that is, assuming you only use the keyboard for two hours a day. A physical power switch avoids any accidental turn-ons in a bag. We’ve obviously not had the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for long enough to know how accurate Logitech’s battery promise is.
Overall, it’s hard not to be impressed by the new Logitech peripheral. It’s well made, comfortable to type on, and – arguably most important for many iPad owners – matches Apple’s style rather than clashing with it. At $99.99, it’s expensive for a keyboard but, with a high-end Smart Cover being only $30-40 short of that on average, not outlandishly priced. Apple insists the iPad isn’t just a content consumption tool but one that can be used to create as well; if text is your game, then the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Case should be your weapon of choice.
Until we’ve properly tested the new Surface Pro, we’ll reserve judgement on which 2-in-1 is the best.Best Prices Today: Microsoft Surface Pro (2024)
It’s been a pretty long wait, but the update to the Surface Pro 4 is here. Oddly, it’s not called the Surface Pro 5 but as you’ll see there are clear reasons for this.
Whether you’re thinking of upgrading from your Surface Pro 4 or trying to decide which device to buy as an upgrade from something else, our comparison of the two hybrids will help you make the right choice.
See our chart of the best hybrid laptop/tablets to buy.
You can pre-order the new Surface Pro now from Microsoft.What are the differences between Surface Pro 4 and the 2023 version?
Compare the key specifications (see our table below) and you could easily come to the conclusion that very little has changed.
The two tablets look the same, have the same 12.3in screen, selection of ports and – aside from very minor changes – the same chassis.
During the launch, Microsoft said the new tablet was thinner and lighter. However, that’s not exactly true. Its own website lists the same dimensions for the two and, depending in the configuration you choose, the new device is either a couple of grams lighter or heavier than the equivalent old model.
So it’s not thinner and no-one is going to notice that miniscule weight difference. Can you spot which is which?
Not everything remains the same, of course. The main difference is that the new Surface Pro includes the latest seventh-gen Intel Core processors, which also means upgraded integrated graphics.
Battery life is also improved from ‘up to 9 hours’ for the old model to ‘up to 13.5 hours’ from the new Surface Pro.
The last notable change is the new kick-stand hinge which now reclines to an almost-flat 165 degrees. This position is called ‘Studio mode’ and lets you use the Surface Pro like the Surface Studio – it’s a more comfortable angle to use for sketching and drawing.
Other minor improvements are better sound quality from the speakers and more rounded corners.
The Surface Pro 4’s stand allows it to tilt back to 150 degrees – the same as the Surface Pro 3. The extra 15 degrees sounds like a small change, but until we’ve properly tested the two devices, it’s hard to know if it really makes a difference or not.
As before, there’s a choice of ultra-low-power Core m3, i5 and i7 processors. The fanless Core m model is available from launch this time – it came later with the Surface Pro 4.
If you opt for the flagship model with 1TB of storage, that’s an NVMe SSD which should improve performance even more compared to the equivalent Surface Pro 4.
That covers the main tablet, but both the keyboard and Surface Pen have been updated for 2023 as well.
Like the recently announced Surface Laptop, the Type Cover keyboard is now skinned with Alcantara – a man-made suede-like material.
This costs £149 (US$159) and comes in three colours to match the new shades for the tablet: Cobalt Blue, Burgundy and Platinum. They go on sale 30 June, a couple of weeks after the Surface Pro.
The new Surface Pen comes in the same colours, plus black. It costs £99.99 (US$99.99) – yep, it’s not bundled in the box any more – but there’s no confirmed release date yet.
It’s longer than the old Surface Pen and does away with the clip. New is its ability to detect when you’re tilting the pen at an angle (similar to Apple’s Pencil) and can therefore more accurately reproduce the effect of that on screen.
Depending on the type of pen you’ve selected in an app, it could mean you get a thicker line the more you tilt.Which processors and storage can you get with the new Surface Pro?
The table below shows how the old and new Surface Pro models compare for their main specs.How do they compare on price?
The Surface Pro 4 has dropped in price now that the new version has been announced, and the Core i7 versions are no longer on sale in the US.
The Pro 4 comes with the older version of the Surface Pen (unless you go for the Core m3 model), so don’t forget to add £99.99 (or $99.99) to the price of the new Surface Pro if you know you’ll need a stylus.Surface Pro (2024):
Core m3, 4GB, 128GB: £799, US$799
Core i5, 4GB, 128GB: £979, US$999
Core i5, 8GB, 256GB: £1249, US$1299
Core i7, 8GB, 256GB: £1549, US$1599
Core i7, 16GB, 512GB: £2149, US$2199
Core i7, 16GB, 1TB: £2699, US$2699Surface Pro 4 (UK):
Core m3, 4GB, 128GB: £636.65
Core i5, 8GB, 256GB: £917.15
Core i7, 8GB, 256GB: £1104.15
Core i7, 16GB, 256GB: £1231.65
Core i7, 16GB, 512GB: £1529.15
Core i7, 16GB, 1TBGB: £1869.15Surface Pro 4 US models:
Core m3, 4GB, 128GB (no pen): US$699
Core i5, 4GB, 128GB: £979, US$849
Core i5, 8GB, 256GB: £1249, US$999
Core i5, 16GB, 256GB: £1549, US$1399
Core i5, 8GB, 512GB: £2149, US$1399
Core i5, 16GB, 512GB: £2699, US$1799
Pre-order the Surface Pro 5 here.Should I buy the new Surface Pro?
It is, overall, very similar to its predecessor. That’s probably why it isn’t called the Surface Pro 5. The new processors mean better performance and battery life, but those are the significant two improvements.
Microsoft says the screen on the new tablet is better, but hasn’t yet specified how.
In the UK at least, the Core i7 versions of the Surface Pro 4 are significantly cheaper than the equivalents from the new range, and they’re even better value because they include a Surface Pen.
If you already own a Surface Pro 4, there’s no real incentive to upgrade unless you’re going from a low-powered model and are planning to buy a Core i7 version.Specs Microsoft Surface Pro (2024): Specs
Windows 10 Pro
12.3in PixelSense display, 2736×1824, 267ppi
Up to Intel Kaby Lake Core i7
Up to 16GB RAM
Up to 1TB storage
Micro-SD card reader
5Mp front camera
8Mp rear camera
About this HUAWEI Matebook E review: I reviewed the Core i5, 16GB RAM model of the HUAWEI Matebook E, using it as my primary work laptop for four days. The unit was provided to Android Authority by HUAWEI for this review.
Update, April 2023: The HUAWEI Matebook E is now available in the EU and UK.
HUAWEI Matebook E W3831T (Intel Core i3, 8GB/128GB): €649.99
HUAWEI Matebook E W5821T (Intel Core i5, 8GB/256GB): TBC
HUAWEI Matebook E W5651T (Intel Core i5, 16GB/512GB): £999.99 / €1,199,99
HUAWEI Matebook E W7651T (Intel Core i7, 16GB/512GB): TBC
Check out: The best laptops you can buy
In typical HUAWEI fashion, the Matebook E supports the company’s proprietary Multi-screen Collaboration technology, allowing you to connect to and share files with other HUAWEI devices, such as a smartphone. HUAWEI’s Cast Plus protocol also supports low latency casting to its Mateview monitor for presentations and the like, should you own one.
The Matebook E is equipped with a 13MP rear camera and 8MP front-facing sensor, but the latter does not support Microsoft Hello facial recognition. This setup is paired with a quad microphone and speaker setup, so the tablet is perfectly serviceable for video calls. You’ll also find a 3.5mm headphone jack located on the left-side/top of the tablet if you’re still rocking a pair of wired headphones. Speaking of ports, there’s a single USB-C socket on the right/bottom of the tablet that supports Thunderbolt 4 and Display Port technologies.
HUAWEI includes a 65W Supercharge plug and USB-C to USB-C cable in the box. The tablet also supports USB Power Delivery plugs, but I could only obtain a lower 30W power level. The Matebook E also supports HUAWEI’s Smart Magnetic Keyboard which comes bundled with the tablet, as does the M-Pencil, on all but the cheapest Core i3 model. You can also grab these as separate purchases, should you need to.
HUAWEI hasn’t revealed exactly which models will go on sale, where, and at what times. We’ve spotted the Core i3 W3831T and Core i5 W5651T variants up for sale in some European countries, while only the £999 i5 model is available in the UK as of April 6. We reached out to HUAWEI for clarification on the price and availability of the other two models but it declined to provide any regional information. What we do know for sure is that it will almost certainly not go on sale in the US due to the fallout from the trade ban.
Top-notch performance and a fantastic display cover the bases for work and play.
The tablet’s OLED display is a wonder. Packing a crisp 2,560 x 1,600 resolution and punchy colors, this 600 nit panel is bright enough for daylight use and all your favorite content will look great no matter the environment. 12.6 inches is pretty much the sweet spot for use as both a tablet and a laptop — any larger would be unwieldy to hold as a tablet while smaller would be too tiny to work on when strapped to the keyboard. Even so, the 14.4:9 aspect ratio is not quite tall enough to make the most of multi-window multitasking. The Matebook E sports a P3 color gamut mode, which is a nice touch when photo editing and plays to the tablet’s creativity angle. The only minor drawback is that it’s a 60Hz panel that doesn’t support HDR. But that’s a perfectly fine compromise to have OLED at this price.
HUAWEI MateBook E
Work meets play
Designed for users on the go, HUAWEI’s Windows 11 2-in-1 laptop sports a stunning OLED screen, powerhouse performance, and stylus support.
See price at Huawei
Fingerprint reader works wellCons
Performance just doesn’t quite hold up to the competition
Rivals offer more value
Other laptops offer a better screen for the priceOur Verdict
While the original Surface Laptop Go survived among a sea of budget laptops, there are a number of comparably priced laptops that simply offer more value than the Surface Laptop Go 2. Just keep an eye out for price drops that could make a difference.Best Prices Today: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 laptop tries to convince you that a processor upgrade is enough to sway you over the competition while tweaking the price configurations and adding a new color. And you know what? The jump to an 11th-gen Core chip does matter, especially when you adjust the Windows 11 performance settings.
We’ll introduce you to the best of what the Surface Laptop Go 2 has to offer (an excellent fingerprint reader), but also point out some comparably-priced laptops that may offer more of what you’re looking for. You’ll also want to pay close attention to the real-time pricing. In this market, an expected price cut of just $100 below the list price can make a real difference.Surface Laptop Go 2: Specs and features
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 remains relatively unchanged from its earlier iteration, the original Surface Laptop Go, with all but two major specifications receiving upgrades. The Go 2 now uses Intel’s 11th-gen Core processor inside, though with a single option: the Core i5-1135G7. That’s a generation behind most laptops, which use Intel’s 12th-gen Core chips or rival Ryzen processors from AMD. Microsoft also made a major change in the OS. It now uses Windows 11 Home, which eliminates all of the earlier app configuration issues surrounding the inclusion of Windows 10 in S Mode.
Overall, your Surface Laptop Go 2 options range from between $599 to $799 versus the $549 to $899 range of the earlier model. This doesn’t quite hit the budget price point of competing laptops, but arguably represents something of a price cut, too.
Otherwise, Microsoft has added a new color configuration, Sage. This is in addition to the existing Platinum, Ice Blue, and Sandstone color options. Businesses also have the choice of buying the Surface Laptop Go 2 for Business, which comes pre-loaded with Windows 11 Pro rather than the Windows 11 Home OS that accompanies the consumer models. The Business version can be configured with Windows 10 Pro as well.
Display: 12.45-inch (1536×1024, 148 PPI) 10-point multitouch PixelSense display
Processor: Core i5-1135G7
Graphics: Xe Graphics
Memory: 4GB-8GB LPDDR4x (8GB as tested)
Storage: 128GB-256GB SSD (256GB as tested)
Ports: 1 USB-C, 1 USB-A, Surface Connect, 3.5mm audio jack
Camera: 720p f2.0 (user-facing)
Battery: 39.7Wh (design capacity), 40.7Wh (measured full charge capacity)
Wireless: WiFi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.1
Operating system: Windows 11 Home (consumer); Windows 11 Pro/Windows 10 Pro (business)
Dimensions (inches): 10.95 x 8.12 x 0.62 inches
Weight: 2.48 pounds
Chassis: Aluminum, with polycarbonate resin (30 percent post-consumer recycled content)
Colors: Ice Blue, Sandstone, Platinum, Sage
Price: Beginning at $599 ($799 as tested)
Mark Hachman / IDGSurface Laptop Go 2: Build quality and ports
The Surface Laptop Go 2 is essentially a refresh of the original Surface Laptop Go and we’d encourage you to re-read our original Surface Laptop Go review for additional detail. We’ll recap the important points here, but the most significant differences are in performance, which we summarize in the sections below.
Microsoft designed the Surface Laptop Go 2 as its answer to a Chromebook, a (relatively) inexpensive, compact clamshell laptop. In the past, the Surface Laptop Go was a showcase for Windows 11 in S Mode, a restricted version of the operating system that limited users to downloading pre-approved apps from the Microsoft Store. Microsoft hasn’t said why it made the change, but it offers the freedom to download whatever app you’d like without the need to switch out from Windows 11 in S Mode, as the laptop ships with Windows 11 Home instead.
Physically, the Surface Laptop Go 2 is a compact, lightweight laptop whose display folds back to about 45 degrees. Inside the box, Microsoft includes a 39W charger that powers the laptop via the Surface Connect connector on the right-hand side of the display. Alternatively, you’ll be able to charge the laptop via the USB-C port, provided you have a third-party USB charger that supplies enough power. Typing on the Surface Laptop Go 2 may look like it may be a bit cramped, given the smaller keyboard deck. However, Microsoft shaves off just half an inch of keyboard space compared to, say, the Surface Laptop Studio. It’s just fine.
A trio of a USB-A port, a 10Gbps USB-C port and a headphone jack adorn the left side of the Surface Laptop Go 2.
Mark Hachman / IDG
As we noted in our review of the Surface Laptop Go, the smaller dimensions also benefit the display. Though the 12.45-inch (148 PPI) display doesn’t quite reach the pixel density of a 1080p screen, the smaller display doesn’t negatively impact the smaller pixel count by that much. Images will still look a little grainy in places, and you’ll notice some text that isn’t as sharp as you’d expect on the laptop’s screen. But there’s also nothing stopping you from connecting it to an external, higher-resolution display as well. The purist in us wanted to reject its 1024p display from the get-go, but practically it really doesn’t matter. On the other hand, it’s a little weird that it has far less screen resolution than Microsoft’s $629.99 Surface Go 3 tablet.
On the left-hand side of the laptop you’ll find a conventional USB-A port, a USB-C port, and headphone jack, suitable for connecting both modern and legacy devices. On the right-hand side Microsoft includes the Surface Connect port, which has begun phasing out in its more expensive Surface devices. The Surface Connect allows you to expand the Surface Laptop Go 2’s I/O capabilities via the Surface Dock, including displays. In any event, the Surface Laptop Go 2 will support up to one additional 4K display and one 1080p display (or two 1080p displays), both at 60Hz. That’s probably perfectly fine for a budget laptop.
On the right-hand side of the Surface Laptop Go 2 is the Surface Connect port, which by default is used for charging.
Mark Hachman / IDG
The Surface Laptop Go 2 is not fanless. It appears to vent air in and out via the hinge. The default Windows 11 setting for power/performance is its lowest setting, when the fan will occasionally kick under a load. This usually doesn’t happen during Web browsing or office work, however. You can turn up the performance via the Windows 11 settings, where it will make a small difference (more on that in our performance section). While you’re almost sure to experience fan noise, it shouldn’t be an annoyance.
We’ll refer you to our original Surface Laptop Go review for more details on the sub-1080p display. The short answer is that no, the lower pixel density doesn’t seem to matter, though it is noticeable in certain cases. While that display was rated at about 330 nits of luminance, we measured the Surface Laptop Go 2’s display producing 358 nits of luminance. While it’s not really bright enough to work outside in direct sunlight, it should be fine for even well-lit rooms. The color gamut, however, is pretty poor. It’s 96 percent of the sRGB color gamut, but only 71 percent of AdobeRGB. This is not a creator’s laptop.
The new Sage color is subtle, and a little hard to capture via a camera. Otherwise, this Surface Laptop Go 2 keyboard doesn’t hold any surprises. The combination power button/fingerprint reader illuminates when the laptop is on but you haven’t logged in.
Mark Hachman / IDG
Surface keyboards have traditionally been among the best in the industry, though they’ve declined a bit in recent years. The Surface Laptop Go 2 keyboard remains, as far as we can tell, unchanged from the Surface Laptop Go keyboard, with 1.3mm of key travel. That’s pretty comfortable in my book, with a keyboard deck that fills almost all of the width of the keyboard. Unfortunately, Microsoft chose to exclude keyboard backlighting on both generations of the Surface Laptop Go.
The Surface Laptop Go 2’s fingerprint reader is both dependable and convenient, but you’ll need to spend some time training it. It’s worth occasionally swiping it with a cloth to keep it free from gunk, too.
Mark Hachman / IDG
You’ll probably like the fingerprint reader that’s nestled under the power button. Windows asks you to extensively train it, resting and removing your finger many times before it’s satisfied, at various angles. This pays off; the Surface Laptop Go 2’s fingerprint reader was quick and responsive, and can log you in and power up the PC in one tap. And yes, a fingerprint reader doesn’t care whether you’re wearing a protective mask in a public place, either.
The Surface Laptop Go 2 contains a pair of upward-facing Omnisonic speakers, enhanced with Dolby Atmos. The audio is fairly middling. It’s nothing to complain about (where flat laptop audio is concerned), but nothing to write home about either. There are still better laptops where audio is concerned. HP’s use of its B&O speakers can provide decent sound on their budget laptops and Dell’s Latitude 9510 and recent XPS notebooks provide undeniably richer, fuller sound.
Microsoft chose a standard 720p user-facing camera instead of a 1080p webcam for the Surface Laptop Go 2, which is in line with the competition, both budget laptops as well as more expensive competitors. Like its predecessor, the resulting image is somewhat soft, though with good color balance and exposure. A pair of far-field mics will help with Zoom and Teams calls, though they didn’t sound any worse or better than other devices when checked with Windows’ Voice Recorder app.
The Surface Laptop Go 2’s camera doesn’t go above 720p, producing camera/video that’s soft but with good color balance.
Mark Hachman / IDG
The Surface Laptop Go 2 doesn’t seem to ship with bloatware, although this is somewhat configurable: during the setup process, Windows 11 will ask whether you want your laptop set up for gaming, productivity, a family environment, or some combination of the various choices. In general, it’s a relatively optimized machine.Surface Laptop Go 2 performance
The processor upgrade adds a bit to the overall performance of the Surface Laptop Go 2, though it’s important to note that Microsoft released the Surface Laptop Go 2 (with an 11th-gen Core chip inside) during the period in which more and more laptops are shipping with a 12th-gen “Alder Lake” Core chip or AMD’s Ryzen equivalent. On the other hand, performance shouldn’t be your first priority with the Surface Laptop Go 2.
Real-world tests with the Surface Laptop Go 2 reinforced our impressions of its predecessor. Opt for 8GB of RAM and you should be fine. The laptop surfed the web using Microsoft Edge acceptably, and played back 4K video using streaming services just fine. That’s a bit of a misnomer, of course, since a 4K60 YouTube video was actually delivered to the laptop using sub-1080p resolution after the laptop’s capabilities were detected. With that said, it still performed nearly perfectly, dropping just 3 frames in a 10,000-frame test loop.
Naturally, this isn’t a gaming laptop, though you can certainly try out Game Pass Ultimate’s cloud gaming feature. We used an older Xbox 360 controller, connected via USB, and received what we would expect of a streamed cloud game. Our 3DMark benchmark below indicates that the Surface Laptop Go 2 really isn’t a gaming PC, otherwise.
We’ve compared the $799 Surface Laptop Go 2 to other budget PCs we’ve recently tested: the $860 Acer Swift 3 (SF316-51), the $849 Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1, the $499 Acer Aspire 5, and the $1,000 Acer Swift X, which adds a discrete GPU for extra gaming oomph. We’ve also included the comparably priced $750 HP Pavilion Aero 13, the $799-$899 Acer Aspire Vero, and two Microsoft Surface devices, the Surface Laptop 4 (Ryzen) and the original Surface Laptop Go.
We use four standard tests: UL’s PCMark 10 and 3DMark to measure general office usage and 3D gameplay plus Cinebench R15 and the Handbrake video conversion tool.
PCMark 10 provides a bloc of tests, from Web browsing to office work, as well as light gaming and even some CAD work. It’s a good overall tool to test performance and the Surface Laptop Go 2 performs fairly well. This is a good test to determine simply how well the Surface Laptop Go 2 will perform on average.
In general, an 11th-gen Core i5 doesn’t really hold up to higher-end Core i7 processors and especially the latest Ryzen processors from AMD.
Mark Hachman / IDG
For a more prolonged test, we use Handbrake, a video conversion tool that transcodes video into other formats. Here, we take a Hollywood-quality video and transcode it into a length and format suitable for a tablet. While it simulates a real-world task, it also measures how well the laptop keeps itself cool under a heavy load. A thermally well-managed laptop can perform at higher clock speeds for a longer period of time, completing the task quickly.
In most cases, rival laptops would complete this task in half the time of the Surface Laptop Go 2.
Mark Hachman / IDG
We use 3DMark to assess how well the GPU performs. With the move to a “G7” graphics chip, we expect a bump in graphics performance, though nothing close to what a discrete GPU would deliver. The Surface Laptop Go 2 performs adequately for a laptop in its class.
Here we find an interesting result: dialing up the performance in Windows 11 boosts 3D graphics capabilities substantially. Is the Surface Laptop Go 2 a gaming PC? No, though you may be able to play some older, less complex games.
Mark Hachman / IDG
Finally, we loop a 4K video over and over until the battery expires. The Surface Laptop Go 2 has a battery with identical capacity as its predecessor, so we’d expect about the same battery life, with some variation allowed for the new Windows 11 operating system and processor. The Go 2 falls a minute short of nine hours of battery life.
Mark Hachman / IDGConclusion
Part of the appeal of the Surface Laptop Go 2 is its price. But a smart buyer should start looking at the tradeoffs. Would paying $200 more for a laptop like the (currently unavailable) Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon and its gorgeous 2.8K OLED screen make more sense? For about $950 (at press time), you can buy the Acer Swift X, a full-fledged ultraportable gaming machine. What about the Acer Swift 3 (SF316-51), a perennial contender at the $800-ish range? Even the comparably priced HP Pavilion Aero 13 offers a lot more for the dollar. The competition is intense.
Certain Microsoft Surface devices are simply best in class, justifying their price premium: the Surface Pro 8 tablet, for example. The Surface Laptop Go 2 simply isn’t and budget buyers have to ask harder questions when it comes to paying more. While the Surface Laptop Go 2 is okay for what it offers, its problem is all too common. The competition can offer as much for less.
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