Surface Go: After one week of use.

Microsoft’s new Surface Go device has caught my eye in its potential to bridge the gap between a desktop and a tablet.  It is due to this I got a trial device for a week however as with any limited trial there is a massive difference between having the device for a couple of days and having to live with it for a prolonged period of time.

Following reading Kevin Sait’s (@kevin_sait) piece (you can read this here) on how he gave up their Surface Pro to try a Go I decided to do the same.   And so, it was early in the week I closed my Dell XPS laptop and picked up a Go device with the plan to use it as my sole machine for the coming weeks and months, dependent on how successful the device was.   This therefore represents my initial thoughts after just under a week of using the Go as my sole device.

My first issue with the Go was the large number of un-needed apps which cluttered up its Start screen.    Thankfully this just took a little time for me to tidy up and if deploying large number of devices we would most likely make use of inTune and Autopilot to customise the start screen, etc before devices get into the hands of users.  I would therefore not really consider this much of an issue.

On the positive side, one of the things I really liked was having the go hooked up to my docking station where it happily powered two 24” screens plus charged via a single USB-C connection.     The fact that a single connector allowed me to benefit from a proper keyboard and mouse, two screens, wired network access and also provided charge to the device was perfect.   I should note that I was originally under the impression that the Go didn’t charge via the USB-C however this is not the case; it is quite happy charging but I am led to believe you will need to make sure the dock provides more than 15watts of power.    This all means my morning just involves pulling the device from my bag and connecting the USB-C and then the end of my day is simply a case of pulling the connector out and slipping the Go back into my bag.

Another positive related to the above was Thursday morning when I had an early meeting.   Midway through doing emails and working on a couple of documents I realised I had allowed time to slip a little.    Realising I needed to get a move on to be at my meeting I quickly disconnected from the dock and went on my way.   Arriving on time to the meeting things were a little slow to get started so I was able to simply grab a couple of minutes working on emails and my documents on my Go right from where I left off.  The benefits of having a device which was my desktop and my mobile device were clear.

Having bought one of Microsoft Type Covers, the keyboard size and the usability of it when compared to a standard clamshell laptop was a concern for me.     This doesn’t seem to cause me the difficulties I had anticipated.   I am actually sat on my couch typing this on my lap and neither the keyboard size or the fact it isn’t really a proper keyboard are causing me any problems.   I am able to maintain my usual respectable typing speed.   I will admit to it not quite being as comfortable and easy to use as a standard clamshell however I suspect this is simply due to years of habit, and of using a laptop.  With time I suspect I will become much more used to the slight flexibility and less sturdy feel which the type cover provides when compared with a normal clamshell laptops keyboard.

In meetings I found myself quickly taking notes using the stylus and OneNote has been my app of choice.   In addition I have also been making use of Office Lens to capture pictures of documents ready for annotation pus I have also started making use of Microsoft Whiteboard.   Being able to easily scribbled notes, draw diagrams and also annotate documents has been very beneficial.

A second issue I did find with the Go was that when I am taking written notes or when annotating I prefer to do this with the type keyboard disconnected.    The issue I had was that I disconnected in my office before going to the meeting.   Upon arriving at the meeting I found myself having to enter my login credentials however I had one hand holding the device and therefore only one hand to type my password on the onscreen keyboard.   This was far from ideal especially as I have a reasonably long password complete with the usual mix of uppercase, lowercase and numbers.    Thankfully again Microsoft have a solution in Microsoft Hello which allows for devices to have an easier login method such as a simple passcode.    At this point we are just looking into this however it does appear as if it will be the answer to this issue.

One thing which I am still to experiment with, which will be really key, is screen mirroring.    At this point I haven’t tested this however the intention is to get a device capable of mirroring, such as Microsoft’s own HDMI and USB solution.    I will provide my thoughts and feedback after I have had a chance to try this including actually using it in a class with students.

It has only been just under a week of me working with the Surface Go as my sole device however the experience so far has been reasonably positive.  Working alongside the Microsoft suite of apps including OneDrive, Teams, Lens, etc, the surface has so far been up to the job.  In the coming weeks we will see if it can keep up this standard as I present it with more challenging work tasks.   I will of course continue to share my thoughts as my use of the device continues.

 

 

 

 

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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