Google Surprises with the New Pixel Slate Tablet

Much has been written about the Pixel 3 even before its October 10 launch due to an embarrassing barrage of leaks. So, despite being the headlining product of the recently concluded event, there's nothing much to write about the phones that haven't already been written or vlogged about. This makes the surprise launch of the Pixel Slate even more buzzworthy.
Essentially, it copies the same design philosophy of the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro, two of the main players in the productivity-oriented tablets in the market. The Pixel Slate is a 12.3-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard. Like most of the other tablet-laptop hybrids that came before it, this one does not come with the keyboard out of the box. The pen is sold separately, too.
The device itself is unimpressive especially because the peripherals that are essentially must-haves if you intend to make the most of the device does not come with the device. What truly makes it interesting, however, is what it means for Google and the suggestion it’s making in terms of where mobile computing as a whole is going.
Android tablets have struggled to keep up with the iPad across the board. Google’s lack of a tablet release in the immediate past seemed to indicate that the company is all but done on the tablet sphere. This is why, more than anything, the announcement of the Pixel Slate is an indicator that Google is still not out of the ballgame when it comes to the tablet form-factor.
But, much like the iPad Pro and Surface Pro, the Pixel Slate is a tablet that wants to be a laptop. By the looks of the heated competition between Microsoft and Apple in this particular segment, it looks like it’s going to be the driving force of the tablet market in the years to come. Google's entry with this extremely well-balanced machine will surely make things more interesting.

Externals: Build Quality and Ports

The hardware is pretty much on par with the best of them. By the best of them, we mean Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pros and Microsoft’s Surface Pros. It’s large even for a tablet but the excellent weight distribution across the entire housing makes it easier to handle than one might initially imagine.
The best part of a tablet’s hardware is always the screen. The Pixel Slate’s 3,000 x 2,000 pixels on a 12.3-inch screen definitely does not disappoint. Images are crisp with excellent contrast and great viewing angles. It also introduces us the tech world to the more power-efficient LTPS screens.
Ports-wise, the device is modern with two much sought after USB-C ports for pretty much everything you’d like to connect to the tablet and some magnetic pogo pins for the folio keyboard. However, what’s most interesting when it comes to ports is what it doesn’t have – the headphone jack.


Tapping intel to power the Pixel Slate is a bold choice that goes against the grains of other already relatively successful Android tablets. But then again, this isn't a regular Android tablet geared toward content consumption. Google is hoping that consumers see this as a productivity-oriented machine that happens to have tablet-like capabilities.
At the base model, it starts with an Intel Celeron and can go all the way up to a Core i7 with the highest-tier slate. This incredible range of CPU options makes choosing which one to buy a highly personalized decision. Consumers, therefore, need to buy the tablet with the right capacity for what they intend to use it for. The base model’s Celeron processor, for example, might be good only for content consumption and light computing while the higher tiered devices are better suited for more intense workloads.

User Experience

The apps on a Chrome OS device is just not as polished as Android. That’s saying a lot because even Android tablets pale in comparison to the dominance of the iOS in terms of the tablet form-factor.
There are, however, some redundancies that Google needs to fix before it can compete with them. For example, there are duplicates of apps on the Chrome Web App and on the Google Play Store. This duplicate causes confusion as each version of the app has different useful functions in their own right.
While the keyboard does not come with the tablet, it’s still an essential part of the whole experience. The most interesting part of it is that the team decided to go with round keys instead of the traditional square. The Pixel design team claims that it helps increase accuracy by reducing the overlaps between each key. Whether that statement is accurate in relation to your own keypress habits, however, is better experienced on your own rather than just read about it.
The keyboard comes in a folio that serves as a protective case and a stand for the whole device.


In a way, this is a first generation product because all of the tablets that came before it ran on Android OS. Sure, the company has had flirtations with 2 in 1s with the Pixelbook but that isn’t exactly a tablet because it has a built-in keyboard. This newly released tablet is a slate that just so happens to have a keyboard specifically built for it. That may not seem much of a difference but, the ability to leave the keyboard and bring just the tablet is a huge plus for some users.
It’s an extremely versatile device that can handle even extremely intensive tasks such as content creation. But when it comes to leisurely activities such as watching movies and playing games, it’s just as immersive as well.
The redundancies in the software, however, is holding this thing back. Google needs to find a way to better implement the tablet side of the device as Chrome OS already works great as a laptop.
In the end, Google's entry into the productivity-oriented tablet is experiencing almost the same problems as the leaders in the segment. The iPad Pro suffers from being a tablet-first device while the Surface Pro suffers from being a PC-first machine. The Pixel Slate on the other hand probably has the best balance between the two, whether that's a good thing will be decided when the sales numbers come.