Surface Laptop Go gives Chromebooks some $550 competition

Microsoft's computing family is growing, with a new affordable notebook, the Surface Laptop Go, joining the range of Windows machines. Borrowing features from its Surface Laptop sibling, and a focus on affordability from the Surface Go s 2-in-1, the Surface Laptop Go kicks off at $549.

At first glance, the resemblance to the existing Surface Laptop is clear. Microsoft's newest notebook has a 12.4-inch display – smaller than the 13.5- and 15-inch models offered for the more expensive laptop – though it still uses the company's PixelSense technology and recognizes touch.

It's running at 1536 x 1024 resolution, with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Beneath is a full-sized keyboard with backlit, soft touch feel keys; Microsoft says they have 1.3mm of travel. The Precision trackpad is glass-topped, recognizes five-finger multitouch, and measures in at a sizable 4.53 x 3.02 inches.

Where the Surface Laptop is all-metal, the Surface Laptop Go uses aluminum for its top but then a polycarbonate composite resin for the base. That combines glass fiber and 30-percent post-consumer recycled content. The whole thing measures 10.95 x 8.1 x 0.62 inches and tips the scales at 2.45 pounds, and Microsoft will offer the notebook in Ice Blue, Sandstone, and Platinum finishes.

Inside, there's a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor – Microsoft sensibly looking to more potent CPUs than in the cheaper Surface Go 2 configurations – with Intel UHD graphics and either 4GB or 8GB of LPDDR4x memory. An education version will offer up to 16GB of RAM. Storage is either 64GB of eMMC, or 128/256GB of SSD as an upgrade. It runs Windows 10 Home in S mode, though it'll be possible to switch to Windows 10 Pro if you need that.

As for connectivity, there's WiFi 6 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.0 – though sadly no LTE or 5G option – along with one USB-C, one USB-A, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the now-familiar Surface Connect port. Microsoft says the battery is good for up to 13 hours of typical usage, while the included 39W power supply will take it from zero to 80-percent in just over an hour.

The webcam is 720p HD resolution, and there are dual far-field Studio Mics and Omnisonic speakers supporting Dolby Audio Premium. Microsoft throws in an ambient light sensor, too, and a power button with an integrated fingerprint sensor for password-free Windows Hello will be offered on certain configurations.

In short, you're looking at what's effectively Microsoft's retort to Chromebooks: affordable notebooks targeting those who want more productivity and portability with minimal budget. Considering the number of people currently homeschooling or finding themselves working from home, that's likely to be an appealing prospect. The Surface Laptop Go is up for preorder from today, and will begin shipping from October 13.

Surface Laptop Go Configurations

There'll be three consumer versions of the Surface Laptop Go:

Core i5 / 4GB RAM / 64GB storage – $549.99

Core i5 / 8GB RAM / 128GB storage – $699.99

Core i5 / 8GB RAM / 256GB storage – $899.99

An education-focused version will offer a Core i5, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, for $1,099.99. Initially the Surface Laptop Go will be available in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Come October 27, Microsoft will launch the notebook in Austria, Germany, UK, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. From November 1, it'll launch in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

From November 24, it'll arrive in Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, and then launch in Korea on December 6. From January 12, 2021 it'll be available in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. Finally, Surface Laptop Go will launch in India on March 30, 2021, and then South Africa on April 13, 2021.