Pixel Slate, Google’s first Chrome OS tablet. It should be able to do everything – run a full desktop web browser, Android applications, tasks. It will be able to replace your computer and do things that the Apple iPad Pro can’t do. There are possibilities, but Dieter Bohn shows us why the bug experience spoils.
I don’t even know where to start with this thing. This is the new Pixel Slate, it’s not quite the first Chrome OS tablet ever but it is the firs tone that signals Google is really trying to make Chrome OS its big screen computing platform of the future.
It’s a tablet that runs the full desktop Chrome web browser, web apps, and Android apps. It can cost as little as $600 bucks but the one that I’m testing right here costs a thousand plus $200 bucks for this keyboard right here.
This thing is weird. It’s somewhere between a tablet and laptop and it’s not great at either. It feels like an experiment in the future of computing but not the actual future.
So, in a lot of ways I dokind of love it but sometimes, I really hate it. Let’s just get into the hardware. The Pixel Slate has a 12.3inch, 3,000 by 2,000 screen that Google calls a molecular display but it pretty much just lookslike any other LCD to me.
It’s good. It has some fairly sizable bezels, partly because there are two front-facing speakers that sound great on the front of it. It is blue and it picks up fingerprints really easily but overall, it’s pretty nice in terms of quality.
You can login with your fingerprint right there on the power button. There are a couple of cameras that do camera things pretty well. There’s no headphone jack and there are two USBC ports and I’ll get to those USBC ports in a minute, don’t you fret.
Anyway, as tablets go, it’sbig but it’s still manageable. It’s sort of like that 12.9 inch iPad Pro but unlike that iPad Pro, this has an Intel chip inside it and that’s where things start to get weird.
Google decided to offer four different processor options and three different RAM options in five different price points, so picking out a Pixel Slate is complicated. You can spend as little as $599, but it won’t do much more than open up a few tabs and run the Netflix app.
Or you can can kid itout with the max specs and a keyboard and pen and spend $2,000 dollars. I think the only one really worth considering is the Core i5 model that I’m using right here but I think that because I know how Chrome OS works and I know that I want to do more than just use it as a basic tablet.
And that’s the thing, you need to know a lot about what you want out of Chrome OS just to figure out which one to buy.
In fact, you need to know a lot about Chrome OS to get most outt a the Pixel Slate no matter which one you buy.
So, let’s talk about ChromeOS and more specifically, let’s talk about how it works on this hybrid Pixel Slate. When you have the keyboard attached, it works just like any other Chromebook.
You’ve got a mouse and resizable windows, you can open up Chrome tabs and Chrome windows, and web apps and Android apps, and move them around, the whole works. It’s all really familiar right on down to Android apps, working but still feeling just a little bit different than the rest of the OS.
I gott a say though, I don’t love this Folio keyboard much. It’s not the rounded keys, they’re fine, they’re quiet and they’rebackl it, and it’s pretty nice. And it’s great that you can use it in almost any angle thanks to this really neat magnet trick that puts it up at just the right spot.
But the keyboard deck isconnected by this floppy flap and it flexes so much that you can actually click the trackpad by accidentally resting your palms on it when it’s on your lap,just like it flexes.
No good. Brydge makes a Bluetooth keyboard specifically for the Pixe lSlate that’s way better and it’s $40 dollars cheaper. Anyway, when you detach the keyboard or when you flip it under like this, it goes into tablet mode.
All your windows go full-screen, but you can do some split-screen by dragging down from the topand then over to the right. And there are some neat touches here, I really love that if you want, you can have this little thumb-swipe keyboard over on the right instead of having the full-screen keyboard taking up half the screen. It’s kinda neat.
But the thing is, in tablet mode, the animation feels really kinda janky, it’s in elegant and it’s pretty stuttery. And performance overall is a mixed bag, it’s not bad most of the time, I can have like 20 tabs and a few apps going at the same time.
So, that’s good but some times I get really bad lag where I feel like I shouldn’t. So, for example in the Google Keep app, some times I pen with it and it’s totally fine other times it lags really bad. And other times, thingsare just kind of unstable.
There are bugs. The first review unit that Google sent me, straight up crashed into a boot loop and it had to be replaced. The second one, luckily,hasn’t had that issue but I’ve still had problems with Bluetooth disconnecting and since there’s no headphone jack, that’s kinda just a killer.
Now let’s say you trust Google to fix all those bugs, there is a new version of Chrome OS out every six weeks after all. That brings us to the next question, really the most important question, can you make this your main computer? It’s the same question we asked about the iPad Pro.
I don’t know if you noticed, but I started this video with the exact same line that Nilay used in his iPad Pro video because in a lot of ways, these devices are trying to do similar things but from different directions. –
Either you have to completely understand the limitations of IOS so well that you can make useof these little hacks all over the place to get things done, or you just deal withit and accept the fact that you have to goback to a real computer from time to time because it’s just easier. –
Yeah, it’s the samething with the Pixel Slate but for different reasons. Most people should not makethis their main computer but Chrome OS experts could.
There are a million examples I could cite here, so I’m just gonna pick one and yeah, it’s finally time to talk about those USBC ports. So, let’s just plug some stuff in. (quiet upbeat music) Check, check, check, ha. Oh no, ah, woop woop! So the Pixel Slate isn’t restricted like the iPad Pro, there’s a real file browser that sees drives and if you plug a microphone in, it’ll work and any app can the oreticallysee whatever you plug in.
It’s not really limited by the OS, instead it’s limited by the apps that you can get on it. So, for example, when I plug in an SD card, it just pops up the files app. So far so good.
But the Adobe Lightroom Android app was designed to work with phones and doesn’t work with Chrome OS’ file browser, so you have to injust thep hotos into the file app, then go looking for ’em in Lightroom, and then go back and delete them in the files app.
Now look, I don’t wanna just pick on Adobe here because this Android app weirdness is kind of all over. It’s nice that you have access to the full Google Play library of Android apps but most of the stuff you’re really gonna wanna use instead of web apps are stuff like video streaming apps and games. I mean, I don’t know, Spotify just looks silly here for example, it’s just like a tacked on phone app.
The trade off though, is you get a real desktop-class web browser, you can’t get that on an iPad. So, I’m able to get more work done on this than I can on an iPad Pro based on my particular needs. Just the thing is, I gotta admit, this is way less fun to use. So look, I’ve been hardon this Pixel Slate but I think it’s time to start expecting more from Chromebooks.
This thing is in the same price range as the iPad Pro, the Microsoft Surface, and tons of high-end Windows and Mac laptops. I honestly think the only people who should buy this are Chrome OS diehards, and you know what? Even for them, I don’t think this makes sense.
Last years Pixelbook is still right there and it’s getting discounted all the time. Sure, it’s last years processor and you can’t attach the keyboard, but otherwise, it’s basically the same thing and it weighs a quarter pound less than this tablet with the keyboard attached.
I still love my Pixelbook and I’m sticking with it. Now, the Pixel Slate has a lot going for it but I think it’s just too experimental. The bummer of it all is I really do like what Google is trying to do here, I just wish it was less trying and more doing.
Hey, thanks so much for watching and let me know in the comments,what would it take for you to consider a full Chrome OS tablet? I’m really curious and you know? I’m obsessed with these new kinds of computers and I have a video that’s a good introduction to what I think about ’em it’s the very first processor episode where I try to answer the question, what’s a computer?