Google’s Pixel lineup of devices which started with the Chromebook Pixel has now moved into tablets with the Pixel C Tablet. These devices combine solid premium hardware with Google’s software.
But Google is trying to aim the Pixel C tablet as a premium tablet that can also be used for productivity which is where it sort of falls flat.
I’ve been using Google’s Pixel C tablet for a few weeks now and the Pixel C is one of my favourite tablets to use even if there are some minor annoyances.
Normally in my product reviews, I would cover design & hardware, software and camera but for this Pixel C review, I won’t be covering the camera as much because let’s face it, cameras on tablets aren’t as great as a smartphone camera or a dedicated camera like a DSLR.
In this review, I will cover the following areas:
- Design & Hardware (hardware and specs)
- Software (all about that Android)
- Camera (a picture is worth a thousand word right?)
Design & Hardware
The most prominent feature of the Pixel C tablet is the display. It is a 10.2-inch display with a resolution of 2560×1800, which is 308 pixels per inch. It is a beautiful display to look at.
The display looks good from all angles, no matter how you look at it. Videos especially look great (especially 4K videos) on it but I wouldn’t stare at this screen for more than an hour or so.
The Pixel C tablet has an anodised aluminum body and it feels great in the hands but it is a full-size tablet and it is made to hold in two-hands and in landscape. So it can sometimes feel uncomfortable to hold in your hands.
Along with that, the build quality of the Pixel C is great. The volume and the power buttons have a great feel to them. That metal design feels great in the hands, it makes feel like a premium device. The Pixel C definitely feels like a premium device.
The Pixel C tablet is sporting a quad-core Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, along with 3GB of RAM. It comes in one colour, Aluminium (aka silver) and two capacities, 32GB or 64GB. There is no MicroSD card slot for expandable storage, so you’ll have to rely on getting the bigger capacity or the using Google Drive.
The battery in the Pixel C also is enough for everyday tasks as well as playing games and can easily last all day with the help of Android 6.0’s Doze.
The Doze feature in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which puts your apps to standby so then they aren’t using your battery when you aren’t using your device.
You won’t need to charge your Pixel C as often or in the middle of the day because of the Doze feature.The Pixel C also has a USB Type-C port as well as plenty of microphones and you’ll find a standard headphone jack and stereo speakers as well.
The Pixel C was also introduced with a detachable keyboard that comes at an additional cost. It connect to the tablet via bluetooth and attaches via the strong magnets that the Pixel C tablet has. The magnets on the tablet are so strong that you could easily stick the tablet to your fridge.
When the keyboard is attached and it sticks to the tablet so well that you could easily flip it over while attached and it wouldn’t come off because the magnets are so strong. The keyboard charges wirelessly via power coming from the tablet itself when the tablet is face down on the keyboard.
When attached, you can set the tablet to the keyboard, anywhere from 100 and 135 degrees which can make it easier to when typing to the keyboard or just using the keyboard as a stand for media consumption.
The keyboard for the Pixel C tablet feels a bit cramped but it does the job, and for this review, I typed most of this using the Pixel C tablet keyboard.
Just like the Chromebook Pixels before it, the Pixel C tablet also features the same lightbar on the device. It glows in the same colours (the Google colours of blue, red, yellow and green) also when the tablet screen is off and when you knock on the device, it light bar glows yellow to show you the battery life on the device without turning the screen on.
However with the Pixel C tablet, it comes at a cost. The Pixel C tablet starts at $649 for the 32GB model and $799 for the 64GB model. The optional PIxel C tablet keyboard costs $199. These prices are in Canadian dollar and are before taxes (if applicable).
The Pixel C is the first tablet running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. This update is more of a minor one and not as major as 5.0 Lollipop (which had a complete overhaul). The 6.0 update still continues the design language, ‘Material Design’ that was introduced in 5.0.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow seems like a more stable version of Lollipop. Some of the new features in 6.0 such as Now on Tap are great but I didn’t end up using as often as I thought it would. Also in 6.0, are custom app permissions, improved microSD support, granular app & memory management and better battery performance.
Even thought the Pixel C isn’t a Nexus device, it still has the same software experience as one which is both good and bad. The good is that you’ll get software updates in a timely manor but the bad is that just like other tech writers have said, this tablet feels like the Pixel C should have come with Google’s Chrome OS but Google made a last minute change to Android. We don’t know why Google might have made this decision but they did.
You’ll be getting your updates straight from the source (Google) and you can expect updates for at least two years once the device is released.
Also with the Pixel C, Google introduced a new layout for the Home, Back and Multitasking buttons. Normally, on Android tablets like the Nexus 9 or Nexus 7, the three on-screen buttons would be in the bottom center of the display. With the Pixel C, the Back and Home buttons are to the left bottom side while the Multitasking button is on the right bottom side. It’s a little disorienting at first but I got used to it over time but I think it would have been fine if the buttons were in the center like previous Nexus tablets.
Android has had a lack of tablet apps for a long time and now is no different. Apps do support tablets but there are some apps that will automatically turn to portrait even though the Pixel C is meant to be in landscape.
Take for example Google’s Androidify app, I’m holding the tablet in it’s natural landscape position and when I open the app, it will automatically shift into portrait mode, this shouldn’t be the case and the app should support landscape naturally especially if the app is made by Google.
Since the Pixel C is the first 10-inch tablet since the Nexus 10 was came out in 2012, Google could have added some more multitasking features into Android 6.0 to launch on the Pixel C but they didn’t. Even the Apple introduced a split screen option on their iPad Pro in iOS 9 which also works on the iPad Air 2. The Pixel C really could have used this type of feature to make it a more productive device like a Surface Pro 4 or iPad Pro.
I’ve had some issues while using the Pixel C, for example when I was typing on the and the keyboard would lag a bit and it would take a second to load the letters it would show multiple letters like ttttttttttttttttttthis and I would have to backspace and it would sometimes lag on that.
But since I got my review unit of the Pixel C, there has been a software update that has seemed to fixed this issue. Also when I first used the Pixel C, the touch screen would lag and it would take longer swipes to go through homescreens or closing apps in the multitasking menu but after restarting the tablet, it seemed to fix the issue.
Also there have been a few times where the Pixel C would disconnect from Wi-Fi while my Nexus 6 would still be connected and there was no other issues with my home Wi-Fi.
The Pixel C’s rear-facing camera is 8-megapixels which is capable of taking 1080p video while the front-facing camera is 2-megapixel which is good for video calls and not much else.
Just like other tablets, cameras on them aren’t that great and shouldn’t be used that often. You don’t want to be that guy who uses their tablet to take photos. Use your smartphone or a dedicated camera instead of using a tablet to take pictures.
If you are looking for a great Android tablet that would be a great replacement for Nexus 10 or to upgrade from the Nexus 7 tablets, the Pixel C is a great option but if you are looking for something do more than just purely tablet things, you should look elsewhere (maybe a Surface Pro 4 or a laptop).
However, with the Canadian dollar as it is, it made the price of the Pixel C that much more expensive and with that the Pixel C starts at $649 CAD and that’s not including the price of the Pixel C keyboard which costs an additional $200 CAD. It isn’t as expensive as the iPad Pro which starts at about $900 CAD not including the keyboard or the Surface Pro 4 which costs over $1000 CAD.
The Pixel C tablet would be much more appealing if started at a lower price (especially in Canada), if it was $399-499 CAD, I would recommend it even more. Right now, it’s sitting in iPad Air 2 pricing and it’s not worth it at that pricing.
There are plenty of other Android tablet options that costs less especially in Canada.
Another thing to point out is that the Pixel C tablet only comes with a USB Type-C charger that cannot detach like smartphone chargers. It doesn’t come with a USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable like the Huawei Nexus 6P does.
It really should if you want to load some videos and other media onto to your Pixel C. I would recommend buying a USB Type-C to Type-A cable, or an adapter that make a standard micro USB cable into a USB Type-C cable.
+ Great screen
+ Solid performance
+ Stock Android experience
+ Great camera
+ Excellent battery life
+ Premium design
– Price may be too much for some
– Software: landscape tablet, portrait apps
– Lack of proper landscape tablet support for apps