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The best laptops and tablets for creative minds

The new Pencil on Apple's iPad Pro is

The new Pencil on Apple's iPad Pro is a huge step forward in design and charging. Credit: CBS Interactive

If you're in a creative field, you definitely need a machine that has both ample power and performance, with maybe a little style for good measure. CNET has tested these four models, which stand out for their performance, design and features for drawing, painting, designing, rendering, photo and video editing, and other creative tasks.

Apple iPad Pro

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD A gorgeous new all-screen design, Face ID and scary-fast performance make this upgrade sing. The new Pencil is a huge step forward in terms of design and charging.

THE BAD The Keyboard Folio Case and Pencil jack up the already-high total price. Old iPad accessories will not work, including the original Pencil. The headphone jack is gone.

THE COST $759 to $799.99

BOTTOM LINE The new iPad Pro is in many ways the pinnacle of tablet hardware design.

Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD The latest 15-inch MacBook Pro offers major internal upgrades to the CPU, RAM, storage and display. The Core i9 version delivers a worthwhile speed boost on processor-intensive tasks.

THE BAD The basic design hasn’t been updated, keeping the same advantages and flaws. Adding the new high-end options drives the cost way up.

THE COST $2,179 to $2,399

BOTTOM LINE It delivers the serious computing muscle that power users and creative pros crave.

HP ZBook x2 G4

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD Its Adobe RGB-accurate DreamColor matte screen is far more usable than the typical glossy panel. It’s also powerful for its size, is relatively full-featured and the detachable Bluetooth keyboard is comfortable for typing.

THE BAD You’re limited to the one, single-button stylus. It’s also relatively heavy and the battery life won’t get you through the day.

THE COST $2,523.64 to $2,849.00

BOTTOM LINE The HP ZBook x2 G4 DreamColor delivers accurate color and smooth sketching with workstation credibility.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD The Surface Pro 6’s jump to new quad-core processors pays off in big performance gains. The new black color option looks cool. Still the best kickstand and keyboard for Windows tablets.

THE BAD Be ready to shell out extra for the keyboard cover, stylus and even the new matte black design.

THE COST $782.90 to $899

BOTTOM LINE The Surface Pro 6 doesn’t make any radical design changes, but the performance jump makes it viable as a mainstream performance laptop replacement.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: section editor Dan Ackerman and senior editors Lori Grunin, Scott Stein and Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit


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