Sunday, May 22, 2022

Hands on with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6: The new tablet is easy to use, confusing to buy

If you were hoping for a dramatic change with the new Microsoft Surface Pro 6, you’ll be disappointed—unless you love black.

In what many Surface fans see as a throwback to the days of the original Surface, the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is indeed available in a retro “black is back” color. But for those hoping that Microsoft evolved to next-generation USB-C ports—sorry. You’ll have to be happy with a new 8th-generation Intel Core processor under the hood. (The Surface Laptop 2, also announced Tuesday, also gets an 8th-gen Core CPU. Learn more in our hands-on of the Surface Laptop 2.) 

If you’re at all familiar with the Surface Pro series of tablets, the Surface Pro 6 will hold no mysteries—physically, at least.  It measures the same across all three dimensions, weighs just about the same, reclines to about the same angle, and its display retains the same resolution as the Surface Pro (2017). Yes, the keys felt a tad springier than those on the Surface Pro (2017) I brought along for comparison, but I’ll chalk that up to the prolonged period of time I’ve used the older Surface tablet.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Mark Hachman / IDG

Hiding behind the kickstand, as with all Surface tablets, is the microSD card slot.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 specs:

  • Display: 12.3 inches (2736×1824, 267ppi) multi-touch PixelSense
  • Processor: unspecified Intel Core i5/i7
  • Graphics: Intel UHD 620
  • Memory: 8GB or 16GB
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD
  • Ports: USB 3.0 Type A, Surface Connect, MiniDisplayPort, microSD card reader, headphone jack
  • Cameras: 5MP (front, Windows Hello-compatible), 8MP (rear) 
  • Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.1
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home (consumer) / Windows 10 Pro (business)
  • Colors: Silver or black
  • Accessories: Surface Pro Signature Type Cover ($160); Surface Pen ($99)
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches; 1.71-1.75 pounds
  • Price: Starts at $899

One spec—operating system—should give you pause, because it signals an odd new way Microsoft is going to sell the Surface Pro. But first let’s talk about how it feels to use it.

In general, the Surface Pro lineup is designed to be used on a desk, although you can make it work on your lap in a pinch. Like its predecessors, the Surface Pro 6 sits even more comfortably when attached to the Type Cover that’s almost, but not quite, a requirement. While you can buy the Surface Pro 6 only in black or gray, you can choose between Burgundy, Cobalt, Platinum, and black Type Covers. When you buy the Type Cover as part of a Surface Pro 6 Essentials Bundle from the Microsoft Store, the black Type Cover costs a discounted $100 (down from $130), while the others cost a discounted $130 (down from $160). (More on this bundle later.)

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Mark Hachman / IDG

Unfortunatelly, that’s a MicroDisplay connector, not a USB-C connector.

As with the Surface Pro (2017), you can recline the tablet nearly flat, so that it doubles as an easel for the Surface Dial. Power and volume rockers sit on top.

Don’t worry too much about the lack of USB-C ports. If you’ve owned a Surface before, you may have invested in Surface hardware like the Surface Dock; otherwise, Microsoft has a Surface to USB-C adapter to sell you. 


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