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Surface Pro 6 review: Racing ahead of last year

The Surface Pro has proven to be a tough act to follow. Microsoft has been the two-in-one standard bearer for the past several years, as successive generations of Surface Pro became the default idea of what a Windows tablet/laptop hybrid should be. But it’s also been a hard idea to move away from, and the changes in the last few versions of the Surface Pro have been almost imperceptible, in both design and performance.

As if to remind us that this is indeed a new model, Microsoft has ditched the last couple of years of just calling this device Surface Pro and gone back to numbered versions, naming this the Surface Pro 6 (I had honestly lost count by this point). 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

That’s a good thing, because at least from the outside, it would appear that not much else at all has changed about the Surface Pro aside from its low-key new matte black color option. The Surface Pro 6 still has a screen bezel that’s on this thick side, unlike many modern laptops, tablets and hybrids that are shaving screen borders down. It still sits awkwardly on the knee (or lap), and it still includes only minimal ports, without even the increasingly popular USB-C.

Still the best little touches 

At the same time, it also still has the best-engineered kickstand I’ve found in a tablet, capable of nearly (but not quite) 180 degrees of stable articulation. It still has a 3:2 aspect ratio on its 12.3-inch high-res display, which is great for reading and working on documents, thanks to more vertical headroom than the average laptop. 

It also still supports the best clip-on keyboard in the (short) history of clip-on Windows tablet keyboards. But yes, before you ask, the keyboard still doesn’t come included in the box, and it’s still a major extra expense. The Pro covers are $159 for the blue, gray or burgundy versions, but fortunately only $129 (£124/AU$199) for the black version that matches the new black color option. 

The stylus, which Microsoft calls the Surface Pen, is unchanged, although also available in black, and it’s among the best drawing and sketching tools for PC users outside of a full pro-level Wacom setup (and maybe even better in some cases). That’s an extra $99/£99/AU$139, but it’ll work on any product in the Surface line. 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Surface Pro 6 configurations run from $899 to $2,299, depending on RAM, storage and processor options. Starting prices are £879 in the UK and AU$1,349 in Australia. But even the most expensive one arrives with only a naked slate in the box, no keyboard or pen (despite the fact that almost all of the marketing around Surface Pro involves seeing it matched with the keyboard and often the $99 add-on stylus). Likewise, the new black color is only available on a step-up $1,199 configuration with 256GB of internal storage (£1,149 or AU$1,849). That’s an extra $300 for an additional 128GB of SSD space, which feels steep. 

Surface Pro 6

Price as reviewed $1,199.00
Display size/resolution 12.2-inch 2,736×1,824 touch display
CPU 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U
Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 1,866MHz
Graphics 128MB dedicated Intel UHD Grphics 620
Storage 256GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

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