Go vs. Pro: Which Surface Device is Right for You?


With the introduction of the Surface Go, Microsoft’s entry into the rapidly shrinking tablet market, many consumers are asking whether or not they should go for the bargain or the brawn. It is apparent that the seductive lure of a low-priced tablet with the Microsoft Surface brand could overpower the average consumer, and turn them from the Surface Pro line, but there are definite selling points to each that you should consider before you decide.

Microsoft Surface Go 10" 128GB Multi-Touch Tablet
Microsoft Surface Go 10" 128GB Multi-Touch Tablet

And this is just a comparison of the Surface Go to the Surface Pro. In another article, we’ve touched on the differences between the Surface Go, Surface Pro, Surface Laptop 2, and Surface Book 2—you can read that here, but for now, let’s just concentrate on these two: The Surface Go and The Surface Pro.

Microsoft 12.3" Multi-Touch Surface Pro 6
Microsoft 12.3" Multi-Touch Surface Pro 6

Here are some real-world scenarios that might help you make that decision. They’re based on price, usage, and common sense. No one should be coerced into buying something they don’t need. Hopefully, these scenarios will help you purchase what’s right for you and, although you may not fit into one of these many scenarios, we’re confident you’ll figure out which Surface you need for your lifestyle.

The Portable Parent

You’re on the go. You have ride shares, soccer practice, recitals, and you need to get home to make dinner, because your personal chef is, well… you. Meanwhile, you must check your child’s progress report online, you have ten minutes to meet your sister at your local coffee house, and you have library duty. When will you get the chance to check the photos your mom sent you, jump on social media to see who’s divorcing whom, or even catch up on breaking news highlights? You could do it through your phone, but the pictures will be too small, the reports will take too long to download, and have you ever tried looking up a recipe through your phone? You’re going to end up on one of those “Nailed It” websites.

SOLUTION: We get it. Life can get very hectic. What you don’t want in any of these situations is to have to haul a heavy laptop and charger, scope out enough room to work, and have the privacy to check out the latest Kiki Challenge videos without being judged. You want something small, portable, and light, without too many hassles, and definitely not something for which you have to call tech support (read: your teenagers) for help. The answer is the Surface Go. Portable without problems. In this case, the Surface Pro is too much, and takes up a lot more real estate. The Go can be used in the car, at the coffee house, and on the kitchen counter without hassle.

The Big Break

This is it. You’re in line at your new job to make a presentation. And it must be a stunner, because your boss will be there, and there will be judging. It’s going to feel like some reality-based talent show, complete with giant “X” buzzers, so you need everything to be handled beforehand. You need a laptop, but you don’t want the clunker you’ve had since college with the Panic! at the Disco and Free Tibet stickers plastered everywhere, and the missing keyboard keys from that one party where you tried to show everyone you can do Beyonce’s Single Ladies dance while standing on your head. You need something sleek, professional, and powerful, and you need it to be portable enough so that you can go from desk to desk in your office and gather feedback without looking like a total newb. And it must run PowerPoint and Excel and Word without glitching out.

SOLUTION: Never do the Single Ladies dance while standing on your head, and get yourself the Surface Pro. It can handle all those programs, and more, and you’ll never have to worry that the tech department is secretly laughing at you for all the Grumpy Cat videos on your hard drive. A Surface Pro will also allow you to add audio, video, and graphics seamlessly to your presentations without fear of slowdown or stuttering. Ditch that college-era clunker and get with the Surface Pro.

Well Noted

Look at you, all grown up and in college. Your parents have probably sacrificed a great deal to get you here, but hey, at least you get to hang out with a whole generation of students who will face career challenges your parents’ generation never had to face. While you’re trying to make the most of a diet of ramen noodles and pizza, you also have a mind-numbing roster of classes to get through and, to help you succeed, you will need to take copious notes. Here’s a fun fact—nobody takes notes with pen and paper anymore. No, note-taking is now a digital art. You can audio-record the notes, at which point you’ll have to transcribe them anyway, or you can type them out on your laptop in class, endlessly annoying all of those around you with your constant clicking and clacking. Or you can do what all hip kids are doing now, which is taking notes on a tablet. You can even have your illegible scrawl deciphered into actual words so that you can read them later. But which tablet is best for note taking, you ask?

SOLUTION: This is one where either the Surface Go or Surface Pro will work, but we’re going to suggest the Surface Pro, because odds are you don’t have the funds for both a note-taking tablet and a laptop. The Surface Pro with a Surface Pen is the perfect note-taking tool. You can configure the pen for left or right hand dominance, use the digital eraser at the end of the pen to quickly erase notes, and with one click on the pen, you can open OneNote, which is included with the Surface, which will allow you to take notes and then open those notes on any device with OneNote installed (goodbye to the “dog ate my homework” excuse). And with a 12.3" screen, you have enough room to take notes, draw pictures in the margins, and even write down a number or two from any eligible prospects in your class.

America’s Next Top Something or Other

Oh, you have ambition. You’re sitting in your dead-end job, looking at the cubicle fabric curl, but you have dreams of something more. Something flashy and exciting. Something artistic and creative, that doesn’t require sitting in meetings that would make data algorithm spreadsheets yawn with boredom. You want to draw, animate, create! Look at all the notebook doodles littering your desk—and your psyche! Do something with it! Whip out your laptop and… oh. Your laptop is too obvious, too large, and people will be looking over your shoulder and scoffing at your dreams. And the scoffing will hurt.

SOLUTION: You could just learn to scoff back, but that takes practice. Instead, try getting a Surface Go, which is not only small (10" screen as compared the Surface Pro’s 12.3" screen), but tablet-centric, meaning that it’s primarily meant for tablet use, including rotating landscape and portrait screens, one-handed ease-of-use, etc., but you’re going to need the optional Surface Pen, as well. With these two in hand, you can dream with a few strokes of the pen, and the availability of third-party drawing and design apps should work seamlessly on the Surface Go.

Microsoft Surface Pen
Microsoft Surface Pen

You Have the Write to Remain Fabulous

I see you. Sitting in the coffee shops, pretending you’re working on the next big screenplay when really, you’re playing some innocuous app that requires bricks, balls, and button-mashing. But are you also working on your screenplay? Or your novel? Or love letters to your editor? Or something? Most of us that do write for a living write everywhere we can—on our commuter trains, the subway, in the bedroom, and yes, sometimes even at the coffee shop. We write because not to write puts a hole in our soul that feels like an abyss. Until we fire up that stupid game. But if you’re thinking of purchasing a Surface device, we have a piece of advice for you—don’t overthink it.

SOLUTION: The solution is to get yourself a Surface Go. Why the Go? Because the Surface Pro is too much for what you need, and will only lead to unnecessary distractions. The Surface Go can handle a lot, but it’s not made to. It’s made to handle the basics, taking away your excuses to muck about. With an optional Surface Go Type Cover Keyboard, the Surface Go becomes a super-efficient word processor, and not much else. The utilitarian mien of this keyboard will force you to concentrate on your writing (or spreadsheet making, or presentation skills).

Microsoft Surface Go Type Cover
Microsoft Surface Go Type Cover

We understand that these scenarios don’t cover every one. Where’s the grandma-turned-EMT who needs her computing power portable and fast—stat! Or the business person who wants to get into Clown College and needs something on which to watch old vaudeville routines without sacrificing their shoulder joint? Or how about… well, you get it. There’s a Surface out there for everyone (check out our Surface Buying Guide that compares all the Surface lineup) but, if you’re on the Web and getting inundated with Surface Go ads, we thought you should know the difference between the two.

Maybe you have a scenario we can help you with? Write in and let us know in the Comments section, below.