First Look at Google’s Pixel C tablet

Surprise, Google’s Pixel C tablet is here! And just in time for Christmas.

But this isn’t a tablet for the kids. No, this is going to be waiting under the tree for Mom and Dad to unwrap. The Pixel C is Google’s answer to other recent tablet releases that pull off a laptop imitation – Microsoft’s Surface, and Apple’s iPad Pro.

My first impressions of the device are that it’s a very solid Android tablet. But I’m not convinced that Google has gone far enough to make this something you’d be happy to replace your laptop with.

When Google unveiled the Pixel C at the end of September, it spent a lot of time hyping up the keyboard. To be a real productivity device, you just need a keyboard. Google promised this particular tablet keyboard would be better than others already available.

Why? Magnets, that’s why.

You attach the Pixel C tablet to its keyboard dock simply by laying it down on its back. It firmly sticks in place. The best part is that you can adjust the exact angle of the screen’s tilt. The magnetic connection is super solid, but it’s not too hard to detach the tablet when you want too.

The keyboard feels great to type on. While it’s super slim, the keys offer a satisfying tactility as you hammer on them. In fact, I’m writing this script on it right now! It’s just the right size for the 10-inch screen, but the keys feel like a good size. Google says it moved five rarely-typed symbols from the physical keyboard to the on-screen keyboard. I haven’t figured out what they are yet.

The keyboard can also attach to the front of the tablet as a cover. While in this mode, the keyboard recharges its battery, drawing power from the tablet. That way, you only have to worry about plugging in one device.

The hardware looks great. It’s a solid, stainless steel rectangle from the back and the bordering around the screen on the front is jet black. The sides are spartan, offering only a USB-C port, a headphone jack, and a volume rocker. Along the top you’ll notice four holes for microphones on the tablet. Also noteworthy – the display offers a high resolution of 2560 x 1800. Plus there’s 3 GB of RAM.

While it looks good, and the specs are very high end, I have some doubts on whether Android is really a great tablet platform. Whereas Microsoft’s Surface was made to showcase Windows 10, this is just another device that can run core Android. There’s some clunky interactions. For example, using it docked with the keyboard is great until you inevitably launch an app that only works in profile orientation.

Also, developers just haven’t taken to making premium tablet apps on Android like they have for the iPad. So you wonder where all that Nvidia Tegra processor power is going to get used. Honestly, this device seems best for people who do most of their work in a web browser.

The price may be where it has an advantage. Starting at $649 for the 32 GB model, it undercuts the iPad Pro and the Surface by a good margin. Then again, it’s on the high end for Android tablets.

Here are the official Google Pixel C specs. 

Operating System Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Display 10.2 inches
2560 x 1800 (308 PPI)
500 nits
√2 aspect ratio
sRGB color gamut
1500:1 contrast ratio
In-cell touchscreen
Dimensions 242 x 179 x 7 mm
Weight 0.517 kg
Material Anodized Aluminum
Color Silver
Processor NVIDIA Tegra X1 with Maxwell GPU
Memory RAM: 3 GB LPDDR4
Internal storage: 32 GB or 64 GB
Cameras Rear: 8 MP
Front: 2 MP
Audio Stereo speakers
Quad microphones
3.5 mm audio out
Battery 34.2 Wh
Power 15W USB Type-C adapter
Wireless Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac², 2×2 MIMO, dual-band (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz)
Bluetooth 4.1 + HS
Ports USB Type-C, 3.5 mm audio
Sensors Gyroscope
Ambient Light Sensor
Proximity Sensor
Hall Effect Sensor

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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