Last week, Google unveiled the all new Pixel C, their take on the premium convertible tablet which follows in the footsteps of the Pixel line of Chromebooks when it comes to build quality, design, and specs. While some may have been suspecting the launch of a new tablet, most were not expecting a new Nexus tablet so there was no reason to think Google had plans for a different type of tablet in the works. In any case, it makes more sense now than ever why Google chose to go with two Nexus smartphones, and focus their tablet efforts to produce the Pixel C. By all accounts, this is going to be a powerful tablet that is quite possibly going to be unmatched in the Android tablet space, at least, not easily. Google has taken the same kind of attention to detail from the Pixel Chromebooks and applied it here, and they’ve spared no expense on hardware. On paper, the Pixel C is going to be one heck of a device running Google’s latest Android operating system version, Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It also carries a sleek metal body and slim design with optional keyboard dock, making it a decent competitor to the iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface.
Right off the bat, there is lots to love about the Pixel C. It comes housed in a slim and sleek metal body familiar to the Pixel laptops, and it houses some seriously powerful specifications. It’s sporting NVIDIA’s Tegra X1 processor on the inside, yes, the same one NVIDIA put inside of the new SHIELD Android TV units, which means the Pixel C is going to be a serious powerhouse not only on the graphics front, but with generally anything. It also sports 3GB of RAM and options for either 32GB or 64GB of storage depending on how much the user needs. As for the display, it’s a 10.2-inch screen with a Quad HD resolution so there should be no complaints here. The display is clean and crisp and should provide an enjoyable experience for anyone no matter what they’re doing.
While we’ve already mentioned the metal build of the design, this is something worth drawing a little more attention to, as noted in our Hands On video of the Pixel C, the build quality is quite superb. The tablet alone just feels solid, but it’s the keyboard dock that makes the Pixel C a convertible which really deserves some praise here. The magnet is extremely powerful which results in a significantly secure hold when you attach the tablet in any orientation. This should bring some peace of mind to anyone worried about things coming apart. Rest assured, unless you’re actively trying to detach the Pixel C from the keyboard, things are staying nice and snug.
Another really ingenious design decision with the keyboard is the way it charges, or at least, one of the ways it can charge. The keyboard is powered by Bluetooth, so it does have an internal battery and will run into situations where it needs to be juiced back up. Thanks to the attention to detail from the team at Google though, the keyboard actually charges inductively when attached to the tablet in a closed position, making it possible to always have power as long as the tablet itself has power. Then again, if it didn’t you wouldn’t need the keyboard to be charged up anyway. Of course, the Pixel C also supports USB Type C so you could always charge the device this way too.
The Pixel C is a solid device and having said that, there’s likely little to be found here that can rightfully be viewed as a bad feature or design element. Perhaps one of the only things that some people would view in any sort of negative light is Google’s decision to use Android 6.0 Marshmallow over Chrome OS which may have allowed the Pixel C to be a little more productivity oriented. Nevertheless, with the keyboard attachment and the wealth of available apps, anyone needing to get something done with docs, spreadsheets, or other work related tasks can do so with ease, so even the lack of Chrome OS may not matter to most.
There’s also the issue of storage, which some may feel should be expandable past the initial 32GB and 64GB options Google has given to consumers. While this isn’t exactly a deal breaker for everybody, there are those out there, power users to be exact, who wouldn’t mind a little extra internal storage space for a device like this. A simple microSD card slot could solve this issue.
RAM is another potential issue for some users. While 3GB is more than enough for most and will certainly be able to help the Pixel C handle whatever users throw at it, 4GB of RAM to accompany the extremely powerful NVIDIA Tegra X1 may have been a better choice. Of course, this all depends on your perspective and what you plan on doing with the tablet, as 3GB is more than capable. This is also helped by the fact that the OS is Android Marshmallow instead of Chrome OS, which might have needed more RAM.
While most everything about the Pixel C is great, the ugliest, or perhaps the only ugly thing about it is the price tag. Without the keyboard dock (which is a focused feature of the device, although optional) the tablet starts at $499 for the 32GB model, which already puts it in a higher tier and will be much too much for a decent number of users. With the $150 keyboard, that raises the price to $650 and that’s no small fee for a tablet. As the keyboard is mainly meant as a productivity tool, most people would likely just consider buying a full-on laptop. That price jumps up even more if you opt for the 64GB option (which is $599 by itself) which comes out to $750 if you grab the keyboard along with it.
These days, if you aren’t looking for something in the gaming category, a fairly powerful laptop can be had for right around the same cost as the Pixel C, even many of the Chromebook options would be a great solution to someone’s computing needs and these mostly come in under the base price of the tablet. Considering this, it makes you wonder whether the Pixel C will be worth it. Only the user can answer that question for themselves and it would probably depend on what you plan to do with the device.
This of course isn’t to take away from the fact that the tablet will be a phenomenal product. It comes with a sleek design, it’s powerful enough to handle the most demanding games Android has available, and it can surely handle multitasking without issue. The keyboard even makes it more functional and a viable option for work use, while staying more portable than a traditional laptop. It’s too early to tell if the Pixel C will be a huge success for Google as it isn’t even available to purchase yet, but it won’t be long. Google has stated the Pixel C should launch in time for the holidays.