Mi­crosoft Sur­face Pro 6

£900 | $1,199 www.mi­crosoft.com The best one yet, but only just

Windows Help & Advice - - CONTENTS -

Be­fore Mi­crosoft in­tro­duced the Sur­face Pro (2017) last year, the com­pany ex­plic­itly said that there was no such thing as a ‘Sur­face Pro 5.’ Why? Es­sen­tially, a fu­ture Sur­face Pro would get a num­ber again when it brought “an ex­pe­ri­en­tial change that makes a huge dif­fer­ence in prod­uct line.”

Now, Mi­crosoft has leapfrogged the ‘5’ moniker en­tirely in launch­ing the Sur­face Pro 6. By that logic, you wouldn’t be out of line to ex­pect a mas­sive sea change – or at least one or two of the changes that have been re­quested for years.

While the Sur­face Pro 6 is inar­guably the most pow­er­ful and long­est-last­ing (when it comes to bat­tery life) Sur­face tablet yet, we have a hard time ac­cept­ing that it’s wor­thy of the num­ber. Aside from those marked im­prove­ments in per­for­mance, and a shiny new colour scheme, noth­ing else about the Sur­face Pro has changed year over year… not even the USB 3.0 port. So, where does that leave prospec­tive buy­ers?

Price and avail­abil­ity

The start­ing price for Mi­crosoft’s Sur­face Pro 6 comes in at £690 ($899), which is di­rectly in line with pric­ing for the Sur­face Pro 2017. The tablet is avail­able for pur­chase right now in the UK and US.

The ver­sion you see con­fig­ured here would cost you a cool £900 ($1,199) on ac­count of the up­graded stor­age from 128GB on the base model to 256GB. That’s quite a price hike for an­other 128GB.

From there, the tablet can be con­fig­ured with an In­tel Core i7 pro­ces­sor, up to 16GB of mem­ory and as much as 1TB of SSD space. If you want the most souped-up ver­sion of this tablet, that’ll cost you a whop­ping £1,700 ($2,299).

Re­mem­ber, as with pre­vi­ous Sur­face Pro de­vices, none of these prices in­clude the £99 ($99) Sur­face Pen, nor the £149 ($159) Type Cover.

Com­par­a­tively, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro costs £969 ($999), which gets you a 2,732x2,048-pixel dis­play pow­ered by Ap­ple’s A12X pro­ces­sor and with 64GB of flash stor­age. How­ever, that too doesn’t in­clude a key­board or sty­lus, which call for an­other £199 ($199) and £119, ($129), re­spec­tively.

On pa­per, the Sur­face Pro 6 re­mains bet­ter value. How­ever, it’s a closer race than it’s ever been.

Then, there’s the brand-new Pixel Slate, which Google wants £450 ($599) for to start with, which is ex­cel­lent in com­par­i­son. How­ever, the com­pany wants an­other £150 ($199) for its key­board cover ac­ces­sory, which is not so ex­cel­lent, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how both the iPad Pro and Sur­face Pro 6 dwarf it in terms of power.

De­sign and dis­play

Save for the gor­geous-look­ing, lovely-feel­ing, new black colour scheme, just about noth­ing has

changed about the Sur­face Pro de­sign from the 2017 model to to­day’s Pro 6. The tablet mea­sures just 8.5mm thin and weighs 771g – the same as last year’s model.

The tablet has all of the same ports and wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions as be­fore, not to men­tion the same Type Cover.

How­ever, we se­ri­ously feel let down by the ab­sence of USB-C this time around, and it’s not even about any per­ceived ben­e­fits of the plat­form. Mi­crosoft has been gat­ing faster data trans­fers and wider dock­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties be­hind its Sur­face Con­nect port for years, forc­ing any­one who wants that speed and ex­pan­sion to buy its £150 ($199) Sur­face Dock ac­ces­sory.

Not even the in­cluded USB 3.0 is up to the lat­est USB 3.1 stan­dard, which is twice as fast at trans­fer­ring data than the former, so it’s now cost­ing you more money than is nec­es­sary to un­lock the full ver­sa­til­ity of a de­vice that Mi­crosoft says can serve as your only PC.

On a more pos­i­tive note, the dis­play is moder­ately im­proved in one area but other­wise un­changed. The Sur­face Pro 6 dis­play now has a stronger con­trast ra­tio of 1,500:1 com­pared to the pre­vi­ous model’s 1,300:1 fig­ure. That means it de­liv­ers deeper blacks and even brighter colours than be­fore – per­fect for view­ing movies.

Per­for­mance

This year’s Sur­face Pro is more pow­er­ful and ca­pa­ble than the last. Much of that comes through the use of quad-core pro­cess­ing, thanks to In­tel’s eighth-gen­er­a­tion Kaby Lake Re­fresh pro­ces­sors.

Vis­ual per­for­mance doesn’t in­crease much in the Sur­face Pro 6 over the pre­vi­ous model, with the same graph­ics sub­sys­tem as be­fore in this spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

How­ever, we’ve recorded some im­pres­sive gains in bat­tery life as well as multi-core per­for­mance, which should see bet­ter longevity out of the tablet as well as faster video en­cod­ing and other CPUin­ten­sive tasks – but don’t ex­pect the tablet to churn through com­plex me­dia ren­der­ings and en­cod­ings or com­pli­cated spread­sheet func­tions.

Bat­tery life

Mi­crosoft has beefed up the bat­tery life of the Sur­face Pro 6 by a con­sid­er­able mar­gin, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to video play­back. Bat­tery life through sim­u­lated gen­eral use, rep­re­sented by our PCMark 8 test, re­mains es­sen­tially the same as be­fore.

How­ever, we’ve wit­nessed a gain of one hour and 47 min­utes – a near two-hour in­crease – in our video run­down test on Sur­face Pro 6. That’s very im­pres­sive.

Soft­ware and fea­tures

Like the Sur­face Lap­top 2, the Sur­face Pro 6 doesn’t have many unique pieces of soft­ware and fea­tures to speak of, which is a dou­ble-edged sword. The good? There’s no bloat­ware, as it comes di­rectly from Mi­crosoft.

What’s also good is Win­dows Hello fa­cial recog­ni­tion, which uses the tablet’s in­fra-red cam­era, and is fast and ac­cu­rate. We can barely open the tablet from its Type Cover be­fore we’re al­ready logged into Win­dows 10. The bad? There is ba­si­cally noth­ing else in the way of unique soft­ware and fea­tures. If it’s on this tablet, you can ba­si­cally get it on any other Win­dows 10 tablet.

Sum­mary

The Sur­face Pro 6 is Mi­crosoft’s best tablet yet. How­ever, the changes here are in­cre­men­tal, when what was re­ally needed was some dras­tic im­prove­ments.

In­stead, the Sur­face Pro 6 is faster, longer last­ing and now comes in a sleek, new black shell… It’s a bet­ter prod­uct than last year, but barely so. If you own a Sur­face Pro 2017, skip this up­grade.

The Sur­face Pro 6 is faster, longer last­ing and now comes in a new black shell but… that’s about it.

“Mi­crosoft has beefed up the bat­tery life of the Sur­face Pro 6 by a con­sid­er­able mar­gin”

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