Pixel C: Google’s In-House 10.2-In Nexus With Laptop Aspirations

Pixel C: Google’s In-House 10.2-In Nexus With Laptop Aspirations

Google announced an entire hardware fleet during today’s Nexus event, but the Pixel C stands out as a convertable with roots in multiple dissimilar worlds. On the surface, this 10.2″ Android slab with Google branding, the latest OS, and guaranteed updates appears to be a refresh of 2012’s Nexus. However, it’s the vision and stewardship of a design team that ultimately turns a hunk of specifications into a product, and this Pixel is clearly of the Chromebook pedigree. Can Google’s 100% in-house team and the Pixel C go head-to-head with other hybrid heavyweights? Is this tablet/laptop mix a response to the Surface Pro 3 and iPad Pro, or does it fill a different niche entirely? Let’s dive into the spec for a first look at Google’s upcoming release.

Under The Hood

Specifications
Display 10.2-Inch 2560 x 1800 screen (308 ppi)
1 : √2 aspect ratio, same as a sheet of A4 paper
500 nits
sRGB color gamut
Internals Nvidia Tegra X1 CPU
Maxwell desktop-class GPU
3GB of RAM
32 GB or 64 GB ROM
Battery size TBD
Audio Stereo Speakers
Four microphones for far-field audio
Connections & Ports USB Type-C
Bluetooth
Operating System Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Price $499 (32 GB) or $599 (64 GB) through the Google Store
$149 for keyboard

These line-items are what we have come to expect from high end tablets this year, and ranking the Pixel C against its peers is several months and many hours of testing away – release is not expected until later this year. But suffice it to say that this device holds its own on paper.

So what truly sets one tablet apart from the next? Build quality, features, and price.

The Pixel C follows in the Chromebook Pixel’s polished footsteps – high resolution screen, premium metal body, quality keyboard with excellent key travel, and USB Type-C. Every component appears to be finly tuned and built to exacting standards, and the Chromebook team made sure to harp on these points in their presentation. After all, the benefits of controling the entire pipeline from idea to production are frequent talking points from Apple. Turnabout is fair play, and we shall see how the rhetoric falls when reviews arrive.

Features are a slightly harder beast to tackle. Android tablets are plagued by stretched smartphone layouts from lazy devs (including those at Google), and perks like multi-window have yet to make their way into AOSP. Ordinarily, these omissions wouldn’t be a big deal. Tablet users tend to favor media watching over productivity, or so the argument goes. However, this time the Pixel is being pushed a laptop first and a tablet second. It’s a device on equal footing with the business-focused Chromebook.

Glimpses of multi-window surfaced well before Google I/O, but even the latest Marshmallow builds lack split screen polish or official recognition. Can Android truly compete with the Windows split screen and stylus or the recent Apple clone of the same?

Keyboard Cover

The Android world is no stranger to the tablet keyboard. In fact, the Nexus 9’s Keyboard Folio bears a striking resemblance to what we saw announced today. However, there are a few key differences this time around.

  • Comparable feel to the Chromebook Pixel
  • Center-to-center key spacing roughly identical to the Chromebook Pixel, thanks to re-organized symbol keys and on-screen buttons
  • Inductive charging from the tablet itself while closed
  • Two month life between charges (not that you need to wait that long)
  • Strong magnetic attachment. Seriously. Grab the Pixel by its keyboard and shake. The tablet is safe.
  • Attach the keyboard as a cover, as a back, or as a laptop-like stand – it makes no difference to the magnets.

The keyboard itself will run $149, which is a steep price, yet still $20 cheaper than the similar iPad Pro Smart Keyboard.

Conclusion

Google has a reputation for producing some of the best looking (browser-based) laptops on the market, and now the same team is trying its hand at a productivity tablet. As expected, the slab looks great on paper. If you’re in the market for a 10″ Nexus buit in-house by Google itself, then definately keep the Pixel C on your radar. With that said, the new Pixel is not a Nexus, it’s positioned as a laptop replacement. Chromebooks have enjoyed tremendous success in this area, but the real question that remains to be answered is “which platform makes for a better laptop – Chrome, Android, iOS, or Windows?” As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Google’s Pixel C is not ready for pre-order yet, but you can sign up to be notified on the product’s official site and subscribe to the brand new Pixel C Forum here on XDA.

In the mean time, check out the convertable tablet in all of its glory below, and stay tuned to XDA for updates as these Google-made, non-Nexus marvels hit digital shelves.

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