Google Pixel Slate vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Is the Google Pixel Slate just a Surface Pro 6 knockoff?

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With Google just revealing its Pixel Slate tablet, there’s plenty to wonder on how it stacks up against the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. From the design, keyboards, or operating systems, there is a lot that is initially similar—but also different— between the two.

In this side by side comparison piece, we stack the two newest tablets against each other helping you decide which one is best for you.

Design

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google’s Pixel Slate is thin and light, crafted with rounded corners and coming in at 1.6 pounds. The Surface Pro 6 keeps a similar simplistic design but is slightly heavier at 1.7 pounds without the keyboard. Google wasn’t specific on what material the Pixel Slate is made with, but it looks to be a solid piece of midnight blue aluminum, whereas the Surface Pro 6 is magnesium.

Just as with the iPad Pro, the other key differentiating element between the two devices is the kickstand. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 has a fully articulating kickstand with movement up to 165 degrees, but the Google Pixel Slate depends on its keyboard cover to stay propped up. In both cases, the keyboard is separate, $199 for the Pixel Slate, and $159 with the Surface Pro 6.

Finally, with the display, both Google and Microsoft are packing in plenty of pixels for an impressive viewing experience. Google promises that you’ll get a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 with the 12.3-inch display on board the Pixel Slate, adding up for 293 PPI. The same size screen on the Surface Pro 6, though, gets you 2,736 x 1,824 resolution, for 267 PPI. Both are at a 3:2 aspect ratio, but Google is packing more pixels into the Pixel Slate screen, so it wins out there.

Performance

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

All similarities between the Pixel Slate and the Surface Pro 6 end with the performance, specs, and operating systems. Google’s Pixel Slate is powered by a new touch-focused version Chrome OS which looks a lot like Android. The Surface Pro 6, on the other hand, is powered by Windows 10 and comes in different processor and RAM configurations for better performance across the OS.

The entry-level $599 Pixel Slate comes with an Intel Celeron Processor, with 4GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. That sounds great, but in the long term, those specs might not hold up and the processor will slow you down when multi-tasking. On the other hand, the entry-level $899 Surface Pro 6 starts with an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage. Picking those same specs on the Pixel State would cost you $999, so it’s obvious that the Surface Pro 6 wins here.

Pricing aside, Google does look to get a lot done with Chrome OS on the Pixel Slate. There are the millions of apps on the Google Play Store, and Google promises they are working to get more apps optimized for Chrome OS. A revamped launcher, full-blown Chrome browser, multi-tasking, and Google Assistant integration also make the budget level Pixel Slate worth considering as well for casual tablet usage.

Both the Surface Pro 6 and the Pixel Slate come with pens that are separate $99 purchases. The Google Pen has an Aluminum rear body, poly-carbonate front body and button, and glass-filled  tip. Google didn’t share any new information about changes to the pen, so tech jargon aside, both look to be good for the price.

Portability

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Coming down to portability, both the Surface Pro 6 and the Google Pixel Slate are equally portable. The Pixel Slate comes in at 11.45 inches x 7.95 inches x .27 inches. The Surface Pro 6, on the other hand, is 11.5 inches x 7.9 inches x 0.33 inches. The slate is somewhat shorter, but the differences are very subtle. Both look like easy devices to throw in a back and travel around with.

As for battery life, Google is promising that you will get up to 12 hours with mixed usage. Microsoft also sings the same song, saying that you’ll get 13.5 hours of battery. We haven’t yet tested either number yet, but a small difference in battery life won’t be a reason to turn down either of the two devices.

Keyboards are also considered for portability too, and again, both look to be similar across the two devices, down to the way they connect with POGO-like ports. The Surface Pro keyboard is one of the best, but Google is giving that a challenge with the Pixel State Keyboard. That keyboard comes features circle rounded keys, and an extra large trackpad and Googe teased that it is pretty silent when typing.

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Coming down to connections when on the Go, the Surface Pro 6 offers up mini-Display Port and USB 3.0, and the Google Pixel Slate gives you two USB-Cs for charging 4K display output and quicker data transfer. That’s much newer tech than what is on the Surface Pro 6, but it also means you’ll have to embrace dongles in order to connect older accessories.

Asides from that, the Surface Pro 6 has a microSDXC card reader, and a headphone jack, all of which are not there on the Pixel Slate. Though you’ll need a dongle or Bluetooth to enjoy headphones with the Slate, it does feature dual-firing speakers for better surround sound. That makes for some amazing audio, whereas the Surface Pro 6 has a 1.6W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium.

Finally, with security, you’re getting a Fingerprint Sensor onboard the power button on the Pixel. On the Surface Pro 6, you’re getting Windows Hello, which uses your face for login. Both are solid options and make your device secure.

The Surface Pro 6 wins on paper

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Surface Pro 6 looks like the better option on paper. It offers more power at a slightly lower price, and Windows 10 is a more compelling operating system than Chrome OS (in most situations, at least). We think most people will lean towards the Microsoft device for those reasons.

Yet the Pixel Slate isn’t hopeless. It has a better display resolution and will likely be the better tablet overall, due to its redesigned Chrome OS and compatibility with Android apps from the Google Play Store.  You might prefer it if portability or tablet use is your primary concern.

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