When I reviewed the Google Pixelbook, I thought it was a great and premium Chromebook. But the same can’t be said with Google’s latest Chrome OS device, the Pixel Slate.

Design & Hardware

The Pixel Slate is the company’s first Chrome OS tablet that comes in at just 7mm thin and weighs 1.6lbs. It also comes with a 12.3-inch Molecular LCD display with a resolution of 3000×2000.

The Pixel Slate’s screen looks great, is fairly bright and colours pop. The body is made from aluminum and feels really solid and comes in a nice Midnight Blue colour.

The back of the tablet portion is where the 8-megapixel camera is, which isn’t all that great. The left side is where you’ll find the volume buttons and a USB-C port. The right side has another USB-C port. There is also an 8-megapixel front-facing camera which can be used for Duo calls.

What’s disappointing is that because of the Pixel Slate’s thinness, there is no headphone jack but Google does not include an adapter in the box.

The power/lock button the top also doubles as a fingerprint sensor. On either side of the Pixel Slate’s screen are stereo speakers which sound good but could be better.

The Pixel Slate can be optioned an 8th Gen Intel Core m3, i5 or i7 or Intel Celeron processor with either 4, 8 or 16GB of RAM. For storage, it comes with either 32, 64, 128 or 256GB.

In terms of battery, the Pixel Slate has a 48Wh battery and can last about 12 hours and has fast charging which can get 2 hours of battery life in 15 minutes.

I was also able to test out the Pixel Slate with the Pixelbook Pen (which now comes in a Midnight Blue colour option) and the Pixel Slate keyboard. The keyboard attached just like the Type Cover for the Surface Pro using a connector on the bottom of the tablet.

To help prop up the tablet while using the Pixel Slate keyboard, you fold the back of the keyboard back which doesn’t work that well and hard to use on your lap. The keyboard has a good amount of travel and each of the keys is circular instead of being square.

The Pixel Slate keyboard is backlit and has the same layout as the one on the Pixelbook with a Google Assistant button and Chrome OS shortcuts.

One thing to note is that both the Pixel Slate keyboard and Pixelbook Pen are sold separately from the Pixel Slate. Instead of buying the Pixel Slate keyboard, I would recommend getting the Brydge G-Type keyboard which makes the Pixel Slate into a more traditional laptop and connects to the tablet over Bluetooth.

The Brydge G-Type keyboard is also about $40 cheaper than the Pixel Slate keyboard.

The Pixel Slate has stylus support in the form of the Pixelbook Pen (which should just be called the Pixel Pen at this point) and has 2,000 pressure points and 10ms of latency. The pen worked fairly well.

The Google Assistant can be used with the Pixelbook Pen, the pen has a button that you can hold and circle images and text on the screen and you’ll be able to get more information or take action.

The Pixelbook Pen worked really well, it’s just as smooth as the Apple Pencil and the Surface Pen.

The Canadian pricing for the Pixel Slate is as follows:

  • Intel Celeron, 4GB of RAM, 32GB SSD – $849 CAD
  • Intel Celeron, 8GB of RAM, 64GB SSD – $949 CAD
  • 8th Gen Intel Core m3, 8GB of RAM, 64GB SSD – $1,049 CAD
  • 8th Gen Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, 128GB SSD – $1,299 CAD*
  • 8th Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD – $1,999 CAD

*The model that I tested

The Pixel Slate is available now from the Google Store and BestBuy.ca.

The Pixelbook Pen is sold separately for $129 CAD and comes in two colours, Silver and Midnight Blue. The Pixel Slate keyboard costs $259 CAD and the Brydge G-Type keyboard costs $219 CAD.

Software

The Pixel Slate is running Chrome OS version 71 which brings some improvements and a slight design tweak. All the menus and screen have a more rounded design.

At first glance, the Chrome OS homescreen looks like a Windows homescreen with a home/start button on the bottom left, pinned apps next to it, and the time and other system functions on the bottom right.

Chrome OS is essentially Google’s Chrome browser but expanded to be an operating system. You can run the usual suite of Google apps like Google Calendar, Google Drive, Gmail, etc. But you can also run Android apps on the Pixel Slate. The device is capable of running most Android apps and games, there was a few that I couldn’t run, mostly because they weren’t properly optimized.

Everything you run on Chrome OS is run from the cloud, so you’ll need an internet connection to take full advantage of the OS but there are some apps and services that you can run offline such as Google Docs and some Android apps you may have installed.

Chrome OS has its own file manager, video player and easy access to your Google Drive. Google Assistant is nice to have on the Pixel Slate but I didn’t find myself using it all that much.

When you to activate the Google Assistant on the Pixel Slate, it appears in the small windows and looks similar to how it appears on your smartphone.

Even though Google said they tried to make Chrome OS more tablet-friendly that’s not the case. Chrome OS just doesn’t work well as a tablet interface.

Final Thoughts

The Pixel Slate is a good attempt at a Chrome OS tablet by Google. But with issues with not being able to run some Android apps on it and cost of the device and accessories makes products like the iPad, Microsoft Surface Pro or Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 much more appealing.

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Beautiful display
  • Good battery life
  • Slim design
  • Great speakers
  • Pixelbook Pen is great and useful

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other Chromebooks and tablets
  • Chrome OS doesn’t work well as a tablet OS
  • Not all Android apps work
  • Pen and keyboard sold separately
  • No headphone jack (and no adapter included)

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