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Google Pixel Slate hands-on: An iPad Pro competitor?
Editor’s note: Hey! We’ve published our full Pixel Slate review, which you can check out right here.
The rumors are true: Google unveiled the Google Pixel Slate, a new tablet-laptop hybrid, at the company’s Pixel event today. This is the first tablet we’ve seen from the company since the Pixel C. Unlike the Pixel C, though, the Pixel Slate runs on Chrome OS instead of Android.
Read more: Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL hands-on
Chrome OS makes the Pixel Slate more like an ultra-portable Chromebook than a tablet. It also allows for better productivity, while still giving you access to Google’s entire library of Android apps. The detachable keyboard and Pixelbook Pen also make it a direct competitor to the Microsoft Surface and Apple’s iPad Pro.
The Slate is mostly flat with rounded corners and the body is constructed of metal for a sturdy design.
The Pixel Slate has a look and feel like what we would expect from a Pixel product. It’s mostly flat, with rounded corners and a sturdy metal construction. When in landscape orientation, the Pixel Slate features a USB Type-C port on the left and right sides, a volume rocker, a Google G logo in the upper left corner of the backside, and a power button on the top left. The power button also doubles as a fingerprint sensor.
The bezels are fairly thin (for a tablet anyway), but still big enough for dual front-facing speakers and for resting your thumbs. The device is impressively thin, giving it a sleek appearance, albeit at the expense of losing the headphone jack which some may not like. On the front and rear are 8MP cameras. The front camera is a wide-angle lens and both cameras utilize the same machine learning algorithms found on Google’s Pixel phones to produce portrait mode photos.
Like last year’s Pixelbook, the Pixel Slate carries a 3:2 aspect ratio screen with a 3,000 x 2,000 resolution. The LCD display measures 12.3 inches in size and is, of course, a touchscreen. Google calls it a Molecular display, which is just a fancy way of saying it’s very sharp and vibrant.
Android apps are fully supported on the Pixel Slate, giving you more productivity and entertainment options.
Chrome OS on the Pixel Slate has been optimized to be tablet friendly, but also gives you a full desktop experience when you need it. The interface offers up an app drawer, app dock, and a Google search bar like a phone or tablet, but apps like Google Chrome will you give the full desktop version when you need a better workstation. Underneath the Google search bar are recommended shortcuts that will change over time based on your usage and apps you open frequently. Web pages you browse on your Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL will also appear here, so you can keep browsing from one device to the other. The Pixel Slate also fully supports Android apps, giving you more productivity and entertainment options.
The keyboard for the Pixel Slate is very different from last year’s Pixelbook. Instead of being attached on a 360-degree hinge, the Pixel Slate’s keyboard is detachable. It connects via copper pogo pins and magnets and effortlessly snaps into place. Similar to the Microsoft Surface, the back portion can fold to prop the tablet up when sitting on a desk or lap.
The keyboard does not need to be paired over Bluetooth and draws its power from the tablet itself. It instantly works when connected to the tablet. From the short time I spent with it, the keyboard was very comfortable to use. The circle keys are a bit odd visually at first, but they were great to type on. There’s plenty of separation between the keys, and travel and feedback were very satisfying. They weren’t overly shallow or noisy.
The trackpad was very spacious considering the overall size and provided good feedback when clicking. The keyboard is also backlit, which means it won’t be rendered useless when typing in the dark. Along with the keyboard, the Pixel Slate comes with support for the Pixelbook Pen for jotting down notes, creating drawings, or use as a laser pointer.
The Google Pixel Slate comes in four prices and configurations. The base model of the Pixel Slate starts at $599 which gets you an Intel Celeron processor 4 or 8GB of RAM and 32 or 64GB of storage, respectively. The highest end model costs $1,599 and comes with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. These prices don’t include the $199 Slate Keyboard or the $99 Pixelbook — you’ll have to buy them separate. Even the base model’s price can add up very quickly. Without at least one of these accessories, you won’t get the most out of the Pixel Slate.
Google didn’t mention any specific availability other than “later this year,” but you can jump on the waiting list starting today if you feel this is the perfect productivity or multimedia machine for you.
Check out our other related Pixel 3 coverage below:
- Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL officially announced: Camera improvements galore
- Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL specs: This is no Galaxy Note 9
- Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL: Where to buy, when, and how much
- All the official Google Pixel 3 accessories we could find
- Google Pixel 3 vs Galaxy Note 9, LG V40, and HUAWEI P20 Pro
- Google Pixel 3 / 3 XL vs Pixel 2 / 2 XL: A tale of four flagships
- Google Pixel 3: Here are all the new camera features
- Google Pixel 3 cameras: Here’s what they can do
- Google Home Hub: Google’s in-house smart display announced