A budget Microsoft Surface tablet could arrive this week

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Microsoft has unveiled a smaller and cheaper version of its Surface tablet that looks set to go head to head with Apple's latest iPad.

The Surface Go is a decent little device, but it's more suited to competing with the likes of Apple's iPad than it is with the Surface Pro.

Nevertheless it's worthwhile taking a look at the Surface Go, as it indicates that Microsoft still views the small, cost-effective tablet space as having some merit.

Microsoft has launched the new Surface Go which has turned out to be the new cheaper Surface Pro alternative that we knew the company has been into making for some time now.

Both models employ Intel's seventh-generation Pentium Gold 4415Y CPU, a low-power chip that allows the Go to be fanless and offer a claimed nine hours of battery life. There are, however, different model specifications with a 4 GB RAM and 8 GB RAM offering, each coming with 64 GB and 128 GB onboard storage respectively.

Like Microsoft's earlier devices, the Surface Go will work with optional keyboards and mouses. What Microsoft aims to provide with the Surface Go is productivity on the move while still maintaining an extremely portable form factor and a slim profile.

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It isn't the first time Microsoft has sold a cheaper version of the Surface.

The Microsoft Surface Go has a 10in screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio display and a resolution of 1,800 x 1,200, which is the same as the Surface Pro.

Moreover, if you want to use Surface Go as a true laptop alternative, you'll have to fork over an extra $99 at minimum for a custom type cover accessory that adds a keyboard with a built-in trackpad, if not $129 for a keyboard cover with a suede-like "Alcantara" fabric, available in three colors.

And crucially, the Surface Go's £380 price tag makes it almost £370 cheaper than its range-topping sibling.

Microsoft Surface Go has a kickstand like other Surface models. The tablet runs Microsoft's restricted Windows 10 S operating system by default, which is no surprise since the company's more expensive Surface Laptop does the same, although users will be able to switch to the full version if desired. In terms of connectivity, the device has a 3.5 mm headphone jack, USB type C port for charging and data syncing and a micro SD card slot for storage expansion.

Available for pre-order starting today - although the listing isn't now live on the Microsoft Store at time of writing - the Surface Go will be available for purchase from 2 August.