Google Pixel Slate
Google Pixel Slate

Google Pixel Slate-Google has officially announced the new Pixel Slate “Pixel Slate” tablet,

which is a tablet running Chrome OS that can be converted to a “laptop” or laptop, through a built-in keyboard cover,

Google said it redesigned the Chrome interface to be more suitable for use on the go, whether at home or at work.

The Pixel Slate comes in a full design of “aluminum” metal with rounded edges

and a layer of curved glass from the 2.5D edges,

This is to facilitate the device to hold the hands with two hands,

in addition to the presence of two stereo headphones on the front of the device

and a fingerprint sensor built into the power button on the top end

Google Pixel Slate Design

Google Pixel Slate Design
Google Pixel Slate Design

On the outside, the Pixel Slate is about as simple as Google Pixel Slate gets.

The front is filled with a crisp and beautiful 12.3in high-density LCD screen

that’s as good as you’d find on top-end laptops.

A relatively wide and uniform bezel frames the screen and houses a webcam in the top

and a pair of fairly powerful stereo speakers in the left and right sides.

The screen’s Gorilla Glass 5 rounds off into an aluminium body,

which feels comfortable to hold for extended periods.

Flip the tablet over to find the dark blue aluminium back is oddly featureless,

marked only by a subtle “G” logo in top left corner and a camera in the top right.

The bottom of the Google Pixel Slate has a magnetic connector for slotting into the keyboard case,

while the power button in the top left doubles as a fingerprint scanner and works well.

The Pixel Slate is 7mm thick, which is 1.5mm thinner than Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6,

but 1.1mm thicker than the new 12.9in Apple iPad Pro. The Google tablet weighs 726g,

which is 50g lighter than the Surface Pro 6, but almost 100g heavier than the iPad Pro.

The Pixel Slate is thin and light for a PC, but bigger and heavier than most media tablets.

Google Pixel Slate Specifications

  • Screen: 12.3in Molecular Display LCD 3000×2000 (293 ppi)
  • Processor: Intel Celeron or Core m3, i5 or i7 (8th generation Y-series)
  • RAM: 4, 8 or 16GB
  • Storage: 32, 64, 128 or 256GB
  • Operating system: Chrome OS
  • Camera: 8MP front facing and 8MP rear camera
  • Connectivity: Wifi ac, Bluetooth 4.2, 2x USB-C
  • Dimensions: 202 x 290.9 x 7mm
  • Weight: 726g

PC hardware Google Pixel Slate

The model tested had a 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 (8200Y) processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

The point of Chrome OS is that it provides a good experience on cheap,

low-end hardware. Give it relatively powerful components and it absolutely flies.

Core i5

The Core i5 version tested handled everything you can do with Chrome OS with aplomb.

No amount of Chrome tabs brought it to a crawl. Heavy-duty web apps,

such as content management systems and other tools, flew.

You can run as many extensions as you like with Chrome with no noticeable performance impact.

All the Android apps ran as fast as they would on a modern smartphone too,

including games such as Shadowgun Legends, although the tablet reached around 50C

at its peak and felt pretty hot to touch.

Google Pixel Slate Battery and Ports

Battery life was excellent for a work tablet, lasting close to 10 hours between charges

when used as a laptop, with 10 or so Chrome tabs open alongside various chat, imaging, and media apps.

Opening up the machine at 9am, the Pixel Slate would last all the way through the heaviest of work days

and still have enough charge for a movie on the way home.

It’ll charge via either of the USB-C ports on the left and right sides and took about two

and a half hours to fully charge from flat while being used.

Chrome OS

On the face of it, the predominantly mouse and keyboard-driven Chrome OS appears an odd choice for a tablet,

but over the past few years, Google has pushed Android app integration

and made lots of touch-centric tweaks

Chrome OS on the Pixel Slate has two modes: a desktop experience enabled

when you attach a keyboard and mouse, and an Android-like tablet mode when used on its own.

Google Pixel Slate Keyboard

Google Pixel Slate keyboard
Google Pixel Slate keyboard

As a desktop the Pixel Slate behaves like any modern Chrome OS device.

A shelf at the bottom of the screen shows your pinned and running app icons,

there’s a start-menu-like “launcher” button in the bottom left and a system tray in the right with an Android-like notification shade.

Apps open as windows, and can be arranged however you like.

Press the launcher button and up pops a search box and some AI-powered app suggestions

for what you might need at that moment.

Swipe up or press the up arrow to see all your apps, or just start typing to find an app,

file or to search the web. It’s a familiar experience for anyone who has used Windows 10 or MacOS.

As a tablet

Grab the tablet on its own and the interface switches to look like Android

with the launcher becoming the homescreen filled with apps and folders.

A back button appears in the bottom left and the overview button in the bottom right.

Tap an app from the homescreen and it launches in full-screen.

The dock stays at the bottom of the screen with pinned and currently running apps.

Hit the overview button to zoom out and see running apps in a screen

that looks like the multitasking view from MacOS or Android,

which is where you can jump into another app or run two side-by-side in splitscreen.

Scrolling with your finger is super smooth, as are the animations, while bigger tap targets

and familiar swiping gestures make it feel much more a mobile tablet.

But this is still full Chrome, not a cut-down mobile version, giving you the best, most powerful

browsing experience on any platform. It’s a joy to use.

Android apps

Android apps are a bit more of a mixed bag. Most run as they do on a real Android tablet

but some have quirks, such as Citymapper and Wire refusing to run in landscape.

Netflix works fine, but even it has oddities such as failing to recognise an ethernet connection

as akin to wifi, meaning you have to uncheck “download only on wifi” to store shows offline.

Sky’s Q app also crashes while streaming TV, sending you back to the media select screen periodically.

As far as Android app support on Chrome OS has come, it’s still a work in progress.

The keyboard attaches to the bottom and back of the Slate via reassuringly strong magnets,

holding it at a relatively large range of viewing angles – far better than most other folding folio-style tablet stands.

Unfortunately when closed the keyboard side slides around against the screen,

which might end up scratching the display and feels less than reassuring when carried.

Google Pixel Slate Pixelbook Pen

Google Pixel Slate pen
Google Pixel Slate pen

The Pixelbook Pen is the same stylus that launched with the Pixelbook last year,

with Google Assistant features and a solid on-screen writing experience with low lag, tilt and pressure sensitivity.

It’s a bit thick and unbalanced for my liking, but is useful for signing documents

or making quick sketches. I don’t think it’s a must-buy with the Pixel Slate,

but then I’m not trying to use it for illustration or design.

Annoyingly there’s nowhere to reliably attach it to the tablet or the folio keyboard, so the potential for losing it is high.

Observations

  • The USB-C ports handle any number of peripherals, including external monitors, storage and headphones with an adaptor (there’s no headphone jack)
  • Chrome OS lacks spell check in most Android apps and there’s no autofill capability using apps such as LastPass
  • The Pixel Slate’s balance point is right in the middle of the tablet, which is also where the hot components are making the tablet feel cool while being held

Price

The Google Pixel Slate comes in various processor and memory configurations

starting at £549 with an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage

or £649 for 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Variants with eighth-generation Intel processors start at £749 with a Core m3, 8GB of RAM,

and 64GB of storage, £969 for a Core i5, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage

and topping out at £1,549 for a Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

The Pixel Slate Keyboard costs £189 and the Pixel book Pen £99.

For comparison, the Microsoft Surface Go starts at £379, the Surface Pro at £879, and Apple iPad Pro at £769.

Verdict

The Pixel Slate makes a very convincing argument for the death of Android tablets.

Turning the desktop-class experience of Chrome OS into a mobile, finger-friendly operating system brings the best of both worlds together in one neat package. At least in theory.

Most of it works really, really well. But it is a case of trial

and error for Android apps to see what works and what doesn’t.

Experience

If you need to get stuff done, and you primarily do so in a browser with additional little bits of software such as Evernote, chat apps,

or the like, the Pixel Slate is a productivity powerhouse when in laptop mode.

The Keyboard Folio is therefore an essential purchase adding £189 to the cost of the machine.

But I was pleasantly surprised by how good the tablet experience was on the Pixel Slate.

There are quirks, a few apps need a bit of work, and a few things are missing from the standard Android experience,

but having a thoroughly touch-adapted desktop-class Chrome at your fingertips is wonderful.

The Pixel Slate offers the best, most powerful browsing experience of any device.

Chrome OS is still a work in progress and there will be the occasional thing you’ll still need a

full Windows PC to do, but what the Pixel Slate offers already is worth buying if you want to be on the bleeding edge.

Just don’t expect every app and game to offer the most polished experience despite the premium price.

Pros: 

long battery life, the best browsing experience, great screen, good keyboards, frequent software updates, USB-C

Cons: 

some apps behave weirdly, Chrome OS still can’t do everything a Windows PC can, expensive

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