Welcome to the new age of Android tablets. The Google Pixel C has designs on being the new touch-plus-type tablet sheriff in town, and Apple’s iPad Air 2 should watch its back. This thing’s coming for its tablet crown.
Having stepped up from the Nexus 7 and stepped down from the Chromebook Pixel laptop, Google’s tried something new, more premium, and, well, more Microsoft Surface Pro 4-inspired. The Pixel C tablet/laptop hybrid is Android’s answer to the high-end tablet space, and pairs a high-end array of innards with a strong battery life and stunning, industrial finish.
With prices starting at £399 – plus another £119 for the keyboard – this is anything but a budget tablet. It’s no more expensive than the industry leaders though, and gives the likes of the Air and the Surface a run for their money at every turn. With the Pixel C, Android tablets have finally come of age, even if the software at their core still isn’t overly tablet-friendly.
- Stunning design
- Brilliant optional keyboard
- Impressive battery life
- Slightly bezel-heavy
- Struggled slightly with heavy gaming
- High-end price tag
Google Pixel C Design: A beaut of iPad-rivalling proportions
There are few tablets that can match the style of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro. This thing, however, looks amazing. The unbranded body is a clean, unadulterated sheet of anodized aluminium. Just 7mm thick and 517g in weight, the Pixel C is a sleek, slim and seriously good-looking bit of kit. There are no garish logos or graphics, just a small camera lens and thin LED strip to break up the rear. This light bar shows the five Google colours during use and doubles as a handy battery barometer.
Even the sides of the Pixel C are clean and uncluttered. There’s no mass of buttons or proprietary charging ports, just a couple of controls, a pair of stereo speakers (solid sound but a little hollow) and the new USB Type-C connection. The tablet is a little too wide to hold through the middle in a single hand, but can comfortably be propped up in one hand while your second one works its way across the stunning, 10.2-inch display.
Its only major design drawback is its sizeable bezels. Apple’s tablets have suffered from the same issue since day one, but the oversized screen border does little to hide the magnitude of the slate. This thing looks and feels every bit its 10-inch form.
Overall, the iPad Air 2’s more rounded corners and slightly narrower bezels give the Apple machine a slight design edge. But the Pixel C is still one of the best-looking slates we’ve ever seen. Fortunately, this isn’t a case of style over substance, either; the industrial design is firmly backed up with a mass of high-end components.
The tablet’s impressive specs sheet is kicked off by its screen. Visually, the Pixel C is hard to fault. The 10.2-inch panel features a 2560 x 1800 pixel QHD resolution. This offers a 308–pixels-per-inch image density, or, in traditional terms, a bloomin’ good viewing experience. Beyond bright, the screen is slightly sharper than the stunning, 264ppi panel on the iPad Air 2.
Text is sharp, pictures crisp and detailed, and video playback fluid and immersive. Colours are bright and accurate without being overblown, and there’s a pleasing subtlety to the black levels. The screen is as easy on the eye as the slate’s lustrous metallic body.
Content really pops on the screen and its unusual 1:1.41 aspect ratio means that while black bars might accompany widescreen movie and TV viewing, the screen is more attuned to a wide array of uses. From enjoying a bit of Netflix to typing out important work documents, the Pixel C screen is a comfortable and good-looking addition.
Google Pixel C Software: Android’s still not a tablet hit
This being an own-brand Google product, the Pixel C runs the latest version of the company’s mobile OS – Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Now, while the smartphone OS of choice for many, Android is still less refined in the tablet space. Not as clean or clutter-free as Apple’s iOS platform or business-centric as Microsoft’s Windows 10 OS, Android is something of a tablet halfway house.