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The tablet market has never had more choice, and now, the line between tablets and laptops is becoming increasingly blurry. Almost all of the major manufacturers have a tablet that also doubles as a laptop, and Google has joined the fray.
This is the Google Pixel Slate — a super-portable but ultra professional full size tablet. I had a chance to spend a couple of days with it… and here’s what I learned.
The 12.3” Molecular Display is a touch screen, and it gives you a tonne of screen real estate for everything from watching movies, to gaming, and to actually working, since you can maximize space or use a split screen effect to increase your productivity.
Actual dimensions are about 7mm thick and about 20 x 29 cm. The weight is 1.6 pounds.
Spec nerds: Choose from the 8th Gen Intel® Core™ m3, i5 or i7 Processor, or Intel® Celeron® Processor or Choose from 4-16gb of RAM and 64- 256gb storage.
It runs the Google Chrome OS operating system.
The Slate appears to come with the full G-Suite of apps installed, like Chrome browser, Gmail Docs and Photos. But on closer inspection, these are actually web shortcuts, and if you use them, they’ll take you to the online versions of these sites.
If you want the real apps, you’ll need to download them via the Play store. That goes for YouTube, Gmail, Sheets, and Drive.
I prefer to work directly in those apps as opposed to online, so I spent a few minutes downloading everything I needed.
The Slate is made to work as either a tablet or as a laptop, and for this you’ll need the Slate Keyboard, which comes in at an additional $159 cost.
The keyboard is pretty cool, though, with rounded lowercase keys—backlit, of course—and a nice quiet and soft feel. There’s shortcut keys for the home screen, to maximize a window, and to get you quick launch settings menu up.
There’s also a big trackpad that’s handy and responsive too, though the clickiness does feel a bit hollow to me.
The keyboard’s other key purpose is to work as a stand; and you can slide the back flap up and down to get just the right angle. It’ll stick anywhere, along the back of the tablet, so you can get the perfect viewing angle.
You can also get the PixelBook pen for use on Slate. Folks who’ve used it with a Pixelbook will remember it, and now it’s available in a Midnight Blue shade tom compliment the Slate.
One aspect of the Slate that blew me away is the sound quality. Tablet speakers are notoriously tinny and often provide a soundscape that feels about as wide as a pair of chopsticks, so when I heard the sound from the Slate, it was really surprised. It sounds fulls, clear vibrant and very strong. It almost sounds like the audio is emanating from behind the screen.
You can automatically pair or tether your Pixel Slate with your Pixel phone when WiFi isn’t available; this does make using it on the go a bit more seamless…
You’ll get about 12 hours of battery from the Pixel Slate. I’ve only had this for a couple days so I haven’t had a chance to try to wear it down.
I have not yet has the chance to review or get hands on with a Microsoft Surface product, so I can’t compare this to that. But in reading up on each of their specs, the Slate has more pixels in the screen, they have a similar battery life.
There’s no headphone jack on the Slate, but there is on the Surface Pro 6.
Some reviewers have crowned the Surface Pro 6 the winner when it comes to power and speed, but again, I’ve not tried it, so I’ll pass on weighing in there.
This tablet would be idea for a commuter who might want to read news via Wi-Fi on the tablet during ride into work, then click on that keyboard and get down to business.
When it comes to price, a surface Pro 6 starts at $1179 in Canada, and the iPad Pro starts at 1249 for the 12” size. That puts the Pixel Slate’s $849 starting price within much better reach for people looking to buy something in this market. It goes up to about $2000 CAD for the top end model.
The battery life is impressive, and the sound quality is going to blow away all those other restaurant diners if you’re the type that likes to play your content on high volume in public places.
I’m still working through the downsides…. Maybe the weight and the size, just for me.. but that’s hardly a complaint for the masses, because if you’re wanting a full size tablet you’re definitely getting what you pay for with the Slate. Check back with me in a couple of weeks to see what else I’ve learned. Like the Facebook page for updates….