Google

Google Pixel Slate Review


Now I’m actually a really big fan of Google myself. I absolutely love what they are doing as a company. Pretty much all of their software products are entirely free to use, their Google Home products are definitely the best ones overall and although the Pixel’s had some issues, for the most part they’re brilliant!

But Google has recently released a tablet, well kind of. The Pixel Slate is Google’s new 2 in 1 and it’s not that great at all. Here’s why.


HARDWARE

The Pixel Slate comes with a 12.3” display, the same as on the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. It’s a 3000x2000 resolution LCD panel at 293PPI, so it’s actually sharper than an iPad Pro’s display. I would say that the display was better than that of the Surface Pro 6 as it’s brighter and the colors just pop. However, it’s not as color accurate as the iPad Pro’s display, nor does it have the 120Hz refresh rate. Overall though, it’s a great display.

The difference in bezels between the Slate (Left) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Right)

The difference in bezels between the Slate (Left) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Right)

Whilst it is a better design then the Surface Pro 6, having smaller bezels and thinner frame, the iPad Pro is even better with noticeably thinner bezels, and a much thinner, smaller form factor too.

I like the fact that there’s no camera bump and there is 0 branding aside from a slight ‘G’ logo in the top left corner. Speaking of cameras, the Pixel Slate comes

with two of them. The one on the back is an 8MP f/1.8 aperture and 1.12μm, that can record 1080p video at 30fps max and the one on the front is an 8MP f/1.9 aperture larger 1.4μm pixels. So yes, the front camera is better than the back one, but overall they’re both only ok.

The Pixel Slate also comes with dual front stereo speakers which are also ok, but they do crackle at high volume, which is something I would expect to see in a $100 tablet and not one that starts at $600. 

But something that I do really like about the Pixel Slate, is that it comes with 2 USB type C ports, one on each side, which means you can charge it whilst also connecting it to an external monitor for example.

 

SOFTWARE

So instead of the Pixel Slate running Android, it runs on ChromeOS. Now I personally prefer this over Android, because it’s a bit more capable and it also supports all the Android apps that your phone or Android tablets do, so it’s a win-win in my books. You can play your favourite games, you can download Photoshop and Lightroom CC, and any app that you use on your Android smartphone or tablet. Overall ChromeOS is more desktop-like than iOS is on the iPad, which does not support external HDD’s at all or extended monitors in extended mode.

However there are 3 very big issues with ChromeOS on this specific tablet.

The first is the app layout. So if you have an Android tablet you probably know how poorly Android is optimised for tablets. I found that most of the apps on the Slate would not scale properly and I ended up with a massive UI.

The second big issue is that even though ChromeOS is a more similar to a full desktop OS rather than a mobile one like iOS and Android are, there are still no high end professional apps. There is no Adobe Premiere, no Photoshop, no 3D modelling apps literally zero of the high-end tools that you would get on Windows or macOS. So while ChromeOS can do more than iOS on the iPad Pro can, most Android apps have a completely unoptimized layout and the only version of Photoshop that you can get is the mobile version.

And finally the third big issue in terms of ChromeOS on this tablet, is the performance.

You see, the Pixel Slate comes in a ton of configurations.

You can get; a Celeron CPU with 4 or 8GB of RAM, an Intel Core m3 variant with 8GB of RAM (which is the one that I have), an i5 with 8GB of ram and an i7 with 16GB of RAM.

The i5 and i7 are still m5’s and m7’s, it’s just Intel’s naming scheme which is very misleading, so these are still those low power Y series processors. 

Now performance wise, you would expect these to be really good but honestly, even the highest end Pixel Slate (the i7 model with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage) which costs a whopping £1,550 in the UK scores less than an iPhone X from 2017 in both Single-Core and Multi-Core!

Comparative Single and Multi-Core scores between the Pixel Slate and iPhone X

Comparative Single and Multi-Core scores between the Pixel Slate and iPhone X

So now you’re probably wondering if the top of the line £1,550 i7 model is so weak, how weak is the baseline £550 Celeron model?

Well we’re talking 1,941 for the Single-Core and 3,045 for the Multi-Core. 

Nope, that’s not a joke, this is for real! The Celeron Pixel Slate has a worse performance score than an iPhone 6S from 2015! It’s just a tiny bit more powerful than a 2014 iPhone 6, but weaker than a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

Now, Google sent me the m3 model, not the Celeron. But I have to say even the m3 lags like crazy! The lag on this thing reminds me of my Samsung Galaxy S4 running touchwiz and a ton of bloatware, definitely not something you should be seeing on a stock Android tablet made by Google that costs £750.

On top of all of this it also has bugs, and a lot of them at that. The Pixel Slate is the glitchiest, buggiest device I’ve had in years! For example, I was stuck on the app drawer and the Slate would not go to the desktop, no matter what I did. The back button wasn’t doing anything and neither were the gestures. I had to restart the Pixel Slate in order to fix it and guess what? It started happening again shortly after!

So why hasn’t Google included a Qualcomm processor, like the Snapdragon 845 that we have in the Pixel 3 XL to get a significantly better performance. I don’t know, honestly I have no idea. If any Google engineers are reading this, I would love to hear why you didn’t go with ARM processors as you would’ve gotten significantly better performance on this.

There’s also a couple of other things that the Pixel Slate didn’t get right, like the fact that there’s no double tap to wake on this which is a must on such a large tablet. It also doesn’t have a home button, so the only button to unlock this is the power button which also acts as the fingerprint sensor, which is cool but this means that unlocking this thing is a pain!  

ACCESORIES

By now you can probably tell that I would not recommend the Pixel Slate to anyone. But are the accessories good enough to make me change that opinion? 

Well, kind of.

The keyboard itself is much better than what you get with the iPad Pro. The keys are actual physical keys that you can feel, and typing on this isn’t bad. Aside from this, it is backlit with brightness and volume controls which you don’t get on the iPad Pro’s keyboard.

It also has a trackpad which works great, but probably the best part about is it the magnetic back which gives the Pixel Slate unlimited adjustability so you can place this at any angle that you want. This makes it light years ahead of what Apple’s offering on the iPad Pro which is not backlit, has no volume or brightness controls, no trackpad, no actual physical keys and only two adjustable angles.

The Pixel Slate Keyboard does costs £190 compared to the £179 that the Apple one costs but I personally feel that that’s okay considering that the Slate Keyboard is so much better.

The comparison in design between the Pixel Slate Keyboard (Left) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Keyboard (Right)

The comparison in design between the Pixel Slate Keyboard (Left) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Keyboard (Right)

However, when you compare it to Microsoft’s Surface Pro keyboard, the one that only costs £100, it doesn’t hold up. The Surface Pro’s keys feel better, the trackpad is more sturdy, and you can raise it if you want, rather than just having it lay flat like the Pixel Slate one . 

There are also no magnets on the bottom of the Pixel Slate keyboard so it doesn’t even close properly. It just slides around which isn’t the best design.

But what about the Pixelbook Pen? Is this Pen better than the competition?

The 2nd gen Apple Pencil magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad and the Surface Pen does the same. The Pixelbook Pen however, does not do that. The Apple Pencil charges automatically when it’s connected to the side of the iPad. The Pixelbook Pen, as well as the Surface Pen, both require an actual battery which I’m not a fan of at all. And the Surface Pen has a eraser on the top, whereas the Apple Pencil and the Pixelbook Pen does not.

Surface Pen (Top), Pixelbook Pen (Middle), and Apple Pencil (Bottom)

Surface Pen (Top), Pixelbook Pen (Middle), and Apple Pencil (Bottom)

So you can probably tell that the Pixelbook Pen offers the least amount of features of the three. It’s quite chunky, it doesn’t attach to the Slate, it has no eraser, and no automatic charging, it’s worse than both and whilst it costs less than the Apple Pencil it is more than the Surface Pen.

 

CONCLUSION

So in summary, the top of the line Pixel Slate cost more than an iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 6 whilst also being the worst one out of the three! It’s glitchy, slow, and has such a messed up app layout system going on. Sorry Google, I usually like what you’re doing and if this was £200 I could maybe overlook the issues and recommend it. But considering how expensive this is and all the issues that is has I wouldn’t recommend you pick one up.

I am hoping that Google makes the 2nd gen Slate better by putting in a better processor, a Qualcomm one and optimises ChromeOS, fix all the glitches, improve the accessories and heavily drops the price.

If you need a 2 in 1 the best one out there is still the Surface Pro 6, and if you need a great tablet, the best one out there is still the iPad Pro.