When Microsoft launched its original Surface tablet, it wasn’t as successful as they’d hoped it would be.
Teething problems like relatively weak specs and battery life made it an interesting piece of tech that one might want to own, but hardly a necessity. Sure, it can run Windows, but so can a cheaper notebook. The specs and weaknesses hardly endeared it to the masses.
That’s no longer the case with the Surface Pro 6. You’ll definitely want it.
What is the Microsoft Surface Pro 6?
At its most basic level, the Surface Pro 6 is a tablet that runs Windows. Not a simplified version like the old Windows phones did, but the very same version of Windows you’re running on a PC or laptop.
Add in the optional Surface Type Cover, and you can convert the Surface from a tablet, to a sleek, nearly full featured laptop.
Even by itself, the Surface Pro 6 is no slouch. Take a look at the review unit’s specs.
CPU: Intel Core i5-8250U
RAM: 8GB DDR3
DISPLAY: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RESOLUTION: 2736 x 1824 @ 60hz
11.5” x 7.9” x 0.33” (292 mm x 201 mm x 8.5 mm)
Cameras, Video and Audio:
Windows Hello face authentication 5.0MP front-facing camera, 8.0MP rear-facing, dual microphones, 1.6W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium.
CONNECTIVITY: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2 x 2 MIMO), Bluetooth 4.1 (Low Energy)
1 x USB 3.0, 3.5mm Headphone jack, microSDXC card reader, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Type Cover port, 1 x Surface Connect port.
The Intel Core i5-8250U is speedy enough to take on anything that you can throw at it, while the 8GB DDR3 RAM is more than enough to handle multitasking without any slowdown.
The 256GB SSD is a bit on the teeny side, but if you’re that hard up for space, you can always attach an external drive to the tablet.
Its resolution might not be 4K, but it’s certainly a step up from 1080p, and looks mighty fine with sharp, vibrant colors. It also helps that the screen’s viewing angles are pretty great. Take a look at our shots and see it for yourself. Even from the sides, the colors are vibrant and sharp, with no loss of clarity.
At the top and back of the tablet sits the device’s two cameras. They’re passable, but you’d be hard pressed to take great pictures with them. They’re passable for HD video conferencing, but that’s pretty much all they’re good for. Then again, who buys a tablet for the cameras anyways?
In fact, the weakness from the Surface Pro 6 doesn’t come from the hardware, it’s from the lack of connections. Only 1 USB 3.0 port, no USB Type-C, no Ethernet or HDMI port. True, you can buy a DisplayPort to HDMI cable easy enough, but the fact of the matter is you shouldn’t have to.
The lack of an Ethernet port isn’t that surprising, considering most slim notebooks and tablets are without it. You’ll need to depend on Wi-Fi for Internet access since there’s no LTE connectivity as well.
What’s truly shameful is the inclusion of only 1 USB 3.0 port. Considering that USB Type-C devices are so commonplace now, it’s a glaring mistake to only have a single USB port, and only a USB 3.0 at that, and not the speedier USB 3.1.
Like all the other Surface tablets, the Surface Pro 6 doesn’t come with any extra accessories.
You’ll definitely need to get a Surface Pro Signature Type Cover (that’s the fancy name for the attachable keyboard/ cover), which is SGD$249. The Surface Pen isn’t as essential as the keyboard, but if you’re going to be using the Surface Pro 6 for taking notes, you’ll definitely want it. It’s SGD$148.
That’s about SGD$397 extra for just two extra accessories, which isn’t exactly what you’d call value for money. To be fair, both the Type Cover and the Surface Pen feel ultra premium, with their sleek construction and looks but SGD$397 is still a fair chunk of money to blow on accessories.
Surface Pro 6 in action.
Without the Type Cover, the Surface Pro 6 functions exactly as a tablet, with Windows 10 powering it. Everything you can do on a PC, you can do on the Surface Pro 6.
That means you can watch Youtube, use Microsoft Office suite programs like Word or Excel and even play some casual games on the machine. The specs are adequate enough that it can handle most multimedia tasks without much issue, barring hardcore image and video editing of course.
The Surface Pro 6’s screen’s certainly responsive enough, with its 10-point touch. That means it can register up to 10 simultaneous touches at the same time. There’s no lag between a touch and it registering on the tablet, and it even registers slight taps accurately enough.
Pair it up with the Surface Type Cover though, and the Surface Pro 6 converts into a full fledged laptop. The tile based UI (for touch devices) of Windows 10 will be replaced by the standard version, which should be familiar to pretty much anybody who’s ever used a computer.
The Surface Type Cover connects to the Surface Pro 6 via special connectors and is held in place by VERY strong magnets. There’s a very satisfying click every time the devices lock in place and the magnets are strong enough that both devices are secured to each other very well.
The power and volume buttons are easily accessed on top of the tablet when it’s paired with the Type Cover, with the charging port at the side. The charger comes with a lengthy cable, so there’s no need to worry if you’re not near a power outlet.
Like the magnets holding the tablet with the Type Cover, the charging port (and the charging connector) also comes with their own. They too provide a very satisfying click when locking into place.
We benchmarked the Surface Pro 6 using a combination of PC Mark 8 and 10. PCMark 8 was used due to it having a Battery Life test (which is incoming to PCMark 10).
Here are the numbers:
PCMark 10 Extended Custom:
Digital Content Creation: 1947
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours 10 mins
As can be seen, the Surface Pro 6 excels in daily, work processing tasks. It got high scores in the Essentials (boot-up, web browsing, video stream) and Productivity (word processing and spreadsheets) but relatively low Gaming score and a middling Digital Content Creation score.
Again, this just summarizes what we’ve mentioned before, that the machine isn’t built for gaming (except casual ones) or image/ video editing duties. The battery life isn’t that great at just over 4 hours, but it’s definitely lengthy enough to get you through meetings or the like without dying on you.
The bottom line.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 is certainly one of the best products that’s ever been released in the line. It packs a decent punch for a tablet, with the ability to be a decent streaming/ multimedia machine or a competent data processing computer. It won’t stand up to complicated spreadsheets or hardcore multimedia editing, but it’s not built for that in any case.
While the price point (especially when you add in the extra accessories) might be a bit of an issue, what you’re getting for that amount of money is pretty decent value, especially if you’re in the market for something like the Surface line.
A bit expensive, and you’ll need to spend extra for accessories you definitely want (like the keyboard Type Cover and the Surface Pen) but what you’ll get in return is a workhorse that is flexible and capable enough to deliver on multiple fronts.
– Sleek looks
– Great display
– Decent battery life
– Capable hardware
– Lacking ports (USB 3.1, Type-C)
– Need to spend extra for accessories.