Google Pixel Slate Review: A Bizarre View of Your Computing Future

Personal computing is usually in an angsty place. With the rise of Frankensoftware comes the promise of an effortless computing future, one in which mobile apps along with “regular” apps co-exist peacefully on shiny glass displays along with there isn’t so much debate about what a modern computer is usually. which’s the promise, anyway. yet right at This particular point, we’re still very much within the in-between. Things are weird.

Google knows This particular. The company features a vision for what This particular effortless computing future should be, whenever This particular arrives. which vision includes Chrome OS, the web-centric operating system This particular first introduced in 2009, as well as Google’s mobile Android ecosystem, along with its all-knowing Google Assistant voice platform. All of these technologies are available for you to swipe along with tap along with shout your way through on the Pixel Slate, Google’s newest computing device. Android apps? The Slate can run those. An infinitely touchable Chrome browser? You got This particular. A voice-prompted restaurant recommendation? OK, Google; holler ’til your heart hurts.

This particular brand new Pixel Slate goes on sale today. Bizarrely, This particular ranges in cost by $599 to $1,599. At the high end, you’ll get a design of the Pixel Slate which’s beefed up with 16 gigabytes of RAM, a 256-gig solid state drive, along with an eighth generation Intel Core i7 processor.

Just a few years ago, those could be laptop specs. at This particular point you can get these specs in a tablet which attaches to a keyboard, whether This particular’s the Pixel Slate, Apple’s iPad Pro, or Microsoft’s Surface Pro. All of these companies have created interactions which let you feel like you can be as productive as you are on a regular PC, even though you’re using a tablet. On Microsoft’s Surface devices, you can toggle between Tablet mode along with, well, Windows 10. On iPad, which runs on iOS, you can work in Split View along with drag-along with-drop multiple files or photos at once.

The people building the future down in Mountain View saw This particular, along with they basically said, “OK, Google: Hold my beer.”

The accessory keyboard attaches to the Slate magnetically. This particular also draws power by which magnetic connector, so you never have to charge This particular—just like an iPad Pro’s keyboard.

Google

The Pixel Slate’s hardware was built to stand out. This particular’s larger along with weightier than the Pixel C, Google’s last attempt at a premium tablet, along with even slightly heavier than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. This particular features a bright, high-resolution touchscreen display, coated in Gorilla Glass (Google markets This particular display under the name “Molecular”). Its diagonal size is usually 12.3 inches, so This particular’s significantly bigger along with more immersive than the 10.2 inch display on the ol’ Pixel C.

The Slate is usually made of anodized aluminum. This particular ships in one coloring, an almost-black midnight blue. Its edges are curved, one of those tiny design decisions which can transform a slate by weaponized metal into something the kids can play with. Google had said last month which This particular focused a lot on generating This particular tablet holdable; I get which, yet This particular is usually still large. I mostly used the Pixel Slate in landscape mode, with its accessory keyboard firmly attached.

As with many tablets masquerading as laptops, the bit of hardware design which will cause the most pain are the ports—or lack thereof.

On the top left edge of the Slate, there’s a recessed power button which doubles as a fingerprint sensor, which Google calls Pixel Imprint. You can store up to three fingerprints, which helps eliminate any awkwardness which comes with using different grips to hold the tablet—even if you won’t end up holding This particular vertically which often.

As with many tablets masquerading as laptops, the bit of hardware design which will cause the most pain are the ports—or lack thereof. Ports! We’ve entered a computing era of 7-nanometer mobile processors along with software which guesses what you want to do next along with does This particular for you, yet we’ve lost the simplicity of 3.5mm headphone jacks along with SD card slots. The Pixel Slate has two USB-C ports, along using a connector for the keyboard. I tried using a dongle to attach a USB 3.0-equipped external drive; This particular didn’t work for me. Google says the tablet should recognize an external drive, so I’ll have to keep trying different dongles.

On the upside, the front-facing camera on the Slate is usually a wide-angle, 8-megapixel shooter which’s designed for group video calls. If you end up on video calls a lot, they look great here. along with the two front-facing speakers on the Pixel Slate sound flipping fantastic. Which is usually not bad, considering which’s how you’ll be listening to your audio while you wait for your Bluetooth headphones to pair with the tablet, or while you look for your headphone dongle. Because, again, no headphone jack.

Battery life is usually also excellent. Google estimates a fully charged Slate will last up to 12 hours; after 6 hours of use This particular past Sunday, I went to bed with the Slate still holding 56 percent of its charge along with an estimated 4.5 hours of life still in This particular. (The Pixel Slate’s dynamic battery monitor, though, often spits out brand new numbers, jumping by 9:52 to 3:29 to 5:22 hours left, without any real explanation.)

This particular’s worth noting which the review period because of This particular product was delayed by a couple weeks because of bugs, mostly around touchscreen responsiveness along with the fingerprint sensor. I didn’t experience any of the issues Google described, along with Google says they’ve been resolved. The Pixel Slate I was working on, the $999 Intel Core i5 configuration, crashed on one occasion. yet otherwise there were no noticeable glitches.

Unleash the Keys

Some people are definitely going to hate This particular, yet I like the Pixel Slate keyboard cover a lot. Like the accessory keyboards made by Apple along with Microsoft, This particular attaches magnetically to one side of the tablet This particular’s In a Relationship with along with sucks all of its power by the tablet, so This particular never needs to be charged. This particular’s a backlit keyboard using a healthy amount of key travel for an accessory keyboard, along with This particular features a nice glass trackpad with multi-gesture support.

One of the reasons why some people might hate the keyboard is usually which This particular’s not bundled into the cost of the Pixel Slate. This particular costs an extra $199. yet they also might hate This particular because This particular has round keys. This particular is usually consistent with Google’s overall product aesthetic; its app icons are round, the G logo on the back of its Pixel products is usually nearly a full circle, along with even the word “Google” features a lot of roundness in This particular. I like the round keys, along with had no problem typing on them. yet some people might prefer having the edges of square keys, which can help imprecise typists hit their target key.

The stylus features a dedicated Google Assistant button: press the button, draw a ring around an object or chunk of text on a page, along with Google will try to provide more context for you.

My least favorite thing about the Pixel Slate keyboard is usually which This particular doesn’t provide an adequate counterbalance to the tablet itself. The whole assembly is usually not especially stable on the lap, along with you certainly can’t pick up whole thing by the keyboard, which you can do using a traditional clamshell. yet! yet! The part of the cover which props up the screen slides along with magnetically attaches to almost any part of the tablet’s back, which means its angle is usually infinitely adjustable. This particular is usually a beautiful thing.

The Pixel Slate also works using a $99 stylus pen, one which’s also compatible with Google’s Pixelbook laptop. This particular’s a solid, half-aluminum, half-plastic stylus. This particular felt natural to write along with draw with in SketchBook. The stylus features a dedicated Google Assistant button: press the button, draw a ring around an object or chunk of text on a page, along with Google will deploy its search skills or its image recognition technology along with try to provide more context for you.

This particular worked well when I wanted to learn more about the make of a wristwatch I saw in a picture. This particular worked not-as-well when I was just trying to draw something along with kept accidentally triggering the Assistant button.

Of course, a computer is usually more than just its hardware. This particular is usually a Chrome OS tablet. This particular also supports Android apps along with features a design of Google Assistant built in. You can do whatever you want on This particular thing! which’s the promise, yet reality is usually a little bit different.

Things Get Weird

On paper, there’s a lot you can do with the Pixel Slate, thanks to its multi-platform approach to software. Its UI has been designed as such to ensure which when This particular’s attached to an accessory keyboard, This particular looks like a “laptop” desktop, with lots of empty space along with an app “shelf,” or dock, at the bottom of the display. Detach the slate by its keyboard, along using a familiar mobile interface appears—one which’s cluttered with app icons along with features a back button. Google’s search bar, along with its Chrome browser, are never far by reach. Neither is usually the Assistant.

yet the question is usually whether these functions are intuitive along with, perhaps more importantly, whether you’re gaining control or losing This particular with these kinds of “smart” interfaces. This particular’s great which you can manipulate windows on the Pixel Slate, yet you still can’t drop a JPEG or some other type of file on Pixel Slate’s “desktop.” This particular goes straight into the local My Files folder (or you can put This particular in Google Drive, natch). This particular’s not dissimilar by the experience on an iPad, along with This particular’s one of the things which drives me nuts about working on a large-screened, keyboard-bedecked device with mobile OS constraints.

along with This particular’s great which the Chrome browser has giant tabs, designed to be dragged with your finger; yet This particular’s awkward which you still have no idea if an app you’re tapping on will open as a mobile app or as a tab in a Chrome browser.

Tap on Google Docs, Photos, or YouTube, along with This particular will open as a browser tab in Chrome. The Google Play store opens in a separate window like an app. Instagram along with Kindle run as Android mobile apps. Kindle is usually somewhat optimized because of This particular device, while Instagram absolutely is usually not. Netflix is usually optimized for Chrome OS, too, yet defaults to a full-sized window when you first open This particular.

Some of these quirks are the fault of the apps’ developers. yet Google also defines the app behavior based on what This particular expects users will want, so This particular will open apps in Chrome tabs when This particular thinks which interface is usually better for multi-tasking.

which’s where This particular all comes back to which vision of the future, the one in which all This particular doesn’t matter. This particular won’t matter what kind of app you’re opening as long as long as you can accomplish what you need to, right? along with This particular won’t matter where you store local files because, well, This particular’s all moving to the cloud anyway, right? You won’t need to connect external devices like a hard drive within the future; everything you need will be accessible through your internet connection.

which’s true, yet only to a point. along with This particular hasn’t stopped the Pixel Slate by trying to usher us in which direction. This particular’s still a little weird, though, here within the land of in-between.

Google Pixel Slate Review: A Bizarre View of Your Computing Future