Google does not want to be left behind in the race of 2-in-1s, so it is making the Pixel Slate. Launched at Google’s annual hardware refresh event in New York, the Pixel Slate targets the same market as Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6.
The Pixel Slate is essentially a Chrome OS device, but it is unlike a laptop or a regular tablet. The idea is to offer a “completely new experience”, with a mobile-driven operating system taking a central role. It’s a productivity machine at the end of the day, featuring a desktop-grade chipset inside. This new type of device supports a keyboard as an add-on option that turns the Pixel Slate into a more traditional computer.
But you have to pay a hefty price to own the Pixel Slate as it doesn’t come cheap, with the base model costing upwards of $599. Mind you: the cost of accessories (keyboard and stylus) will make the Pixel Slate as expensive as a high-end laptop.
The question remains, will you spend $900 on the Pixel Slate? I spent a few minutes with the Pixel Slate to see where it stands in the crowded 2-in-1 market. Here’s everything you need to know more the Google Pixel Slate.
Google Pixel Slate first impressions: Design, keyboard
The Pixel Slate looks like the Galaxy Tab S4 from the design point view. It is 7mm thick and weighs 1.6 pounds, making it is a bit heavier than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The edges are slightly curved — though I actually enjoyed holding the Pixel Slate. The anodised aluminium chassis gives a premium feel to the tablet, something I expect given this machine costs a lot of money.
The display is not edge-to-edge, and that’s okay. On its front, you’ll notice twin dual-speakers that the company claims “are custom tuned to deliver industry leading audio”. However, I did not get a chance to try out the speakers during my limited time spent with the Pixel Slate.
Taking cues from the Pixel 3, the Pixel Slate has a wide-angle front-facing camera. It’s called the Duo Cam, which Google says is designed to make a video calls even in low light. The device charges via USB Type-C, and has a fingerprint sensor built into the power button in the top left-hand corner of the tablet.
Perhaps the highlight of the Pixel Slate is the keyboard. Yes, the keyboard comes with circular backlit keys, featuring a dedicated Assistant and control panel keys in the top row. The keyboard magnetically connects to the tablet through a docking mechanism, and it draws power from the tablet’s internal battery. Is it any good? Pretty neat, if you ask me. It feels great to type on.
Google Pixel Slate first impressions: Display
The Pixel Slate uses a 12.3-inch LCD panel with a resolution of 3000 by 2000. Google claims it has the highest pixel density of any device in this category; even though I haven’t extensively used the tablet for a longer period of time, it does appears to be bright and sharp.
Google Pixel Slate first impressions: Performance, battery
Google has cut no corners in making the Pixel Slate a powerful alternative to the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 6. It’s shipping with four different SKUs, and the base version is running a lower-end Intel Celeron chipset. It starts at $599 and has 4GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. That $599 price doesn’t include the $199 Pixel Slate keyboard and $99 Pixelbook Pen.
The top-end model is priced at $1599, and it features Intel’s 8th generation Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage. Battery on the Pixel Slate will last 12 hours on a single charge, claims Google.
Google Pixel Slate first impressions: Software
The tablet runs Chrome OS which we all are familiar with, but, Google says it has tweaked the operating system to suit a device like the Pixel Slate. Speaking of the user interface, it is completely redesigned for the Pixel Slate. Instead of showing used icons to the lower-left corner of the screen, Chrome OS now displays them in the bottom of the screen. It’s reminiscent of the iOS dock. Also, the Pixel Slate switches between tablet mode and “laptop” mode depending on how you want to use the device.
Google Pixel Slate first impressions: Early outlook
Pixel Slate is undeniably a cool device and there is no doubt about it. With the Pixel Slate, Google once again puts focus on Chrome OS as the go-to operating system for work and productivity. Will Google succeed in its ambitions this time around? Only time will tell.
Disclaimer: The author was in New York at the invite of Google India