Feb 18 2021

Review: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Makes Remote Learning More Reasonable

The right mix of power, portability and battery life makes the Surface Laptop Go a strategic scholastic choice.

When students’ primary source for learning and enlightenment is a computer, having a device that is powerful, portable and flexible is essential. A good laptop not only provides traditional educational benefits, such as running core educational programs and providing a platform to access the internet, but also empowers meaningful distance learning by supporting powerful remote collaboration tools.

The ideal laptop for students is lightweight, easy to use and maintain, packed with security features, has a great camera and is able to power an entire day of learning. Thankfully, the Surface Laptop Go checks every box on that list.

The slim, user-friendly device is easy to carry and simple to maintain, which should make it appealing to school districts. Under the hood, the Surface Laptop Go offers the impressive power of an Intel Core i5 chipset and all the compatibility of the full Microsoft Windows 10 operating system.

Easy, Integrated Experiences Promote Learning Success

Booting up the system and logging in to the Laptop Go is extremely easy. The power button doubles as a fingerprint reader, so the act of turning the device on also authenticates its user. The laptop also employs Microsoft Hello, which adds facial recognition to the security mix via its 720p HD front-facing camera. Students need only power up their Surface Laptop Go and sit in front of it to gain access to their desktop and learning tools.

The camera works in conjunction with two far-field studio microphones to create the ultimate in high-resolution distance learning. Add the 12.4-inch display with its 1536x1024 maximum resolution, and it’s easy to see and hear everything that happens in a virtual classroom. The screen also supports touch input, which opens up new avenues of educational exploration and applications.

MORE ON EDTECH: Monitoring mobile devices in a virtual environment.

And because the Laptop Go can be loaded with Microsoft 365, it gives students access to all the industry-standard productivity tools they need. They can write papers using Word or create reports and presentations with Excel and PowerPoint. All of the Microsoft 365 apps run smoothly on the laptop, and like everything else about the device, they are automatically updated and patched in the background while students work.

At less than 2.5 pounds, the device is ready to go wherever students want to work: at a desk, on their kitchen table or in their lap. And when schools return to in-person learning, the Surface Laptop Go will be just as useful in a dedicated classroom.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go

A Device That Is Ready for Afterschool Work

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go is designed for simplicity and power, but is it durable? I ran a series of tests to find out how long the svelte device can power educational activities on a single charge.

Battery technology has come a long way in a relatively short time. That’s a particularly good thing for education, because a laptop is only useful if it can maintain its charge for an entire class — or, better still, throughout a full day of learning.

Most remote learners will have access to a power outlet, but that’s not always the case, particularly for students who might be traveling with their devices. Educators might also want the freedom to take their students on virtual field trips or hold class in outdoor spaces with nowhere to plug in a charging cord.

At just 2.5 pounds, one might think that the Surface Laptop Go would also be light on battery power. After all, batteries are typically one of a computer’s heaviest components. But the Laptop Go turns in some impressive numbers in terms of battery life.

I first booted the system and ran Word and internet browser simultaneously — a fairly standard use scenario with average power demands. In that test, the Laptop Go lasted for more than 12 hours and 30 minutes before a low-charge warning appeared. Better still, this fast-charging device regained 80 percent of its power capacity after just an hour of charging.

For a more pressing test, I added a Skype conference call to the previous mix of applications; this had only a minimal effect on performance, dropping battery life to just over 12 hours. Next, I locked the brightness in at 80 percent, disabled all the power-saving tools and ran everything from the previous tests, plus a movie set to repeat. It was only then that I saw a drop in longevity — but the device still managed to hold out for more than 10 hours. In almost any scenario, the Surface Laptop Go can provide enough battery life for a full day of virtual learning, plus hours of afterschool activities.

SPECIFICATIONS

PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5 1035G1 (1GHz)

RAM: 8GB LPDDR4x

HARD DRIVE: 128GB or 256GB SSD

DISPLAY: 12.4-inch diagonal PixelSense

DIMENSIONS: 11x 8.1x0.6 inches

WEIGHT: 2.45 pounds

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