Google Pixel Slate Review – Chrome OS Tablet that runs Android / Linux
This is a tablet running Chrome, OS that also happens to run Android apps and Linux apps, and they have kind of followed the surface design here, where you’ve got a tablet that detaches from a keyboard case and the keyboard case also acts as a stand. We’Ll be taking a closer look at this device and what makes it tick in just a second, but I do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that I paid for this with my own funds, all of the pieces of it as well. All the opinions are about here are my own. Nobody is paying for this review, nor has anyone reviewed or approved what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what this device is all about. So let’s take a closer look now at the hardware. I went with the least expensive version because I always like to buy the low end and see how it performs, and that gives us some idea as to how maybe the higher end devices might work and I’ll tell you what this is a very overpriced device. All in here with the tablet, the keyboard and the pen we’re looking at about 950 dollars in change for what you see and that again is the low end version with a pretty low powered Celeron chip. A3. 965. Why it’s a dual core Celeron four gigs of ram and 32 gigabytes of storage? It’S, not upgradeable.
Now the other configurations differ in their RAM storage and processor, but everything else is the same as what you’ll be seeing here in the video. So they do have a core m3 version that sells for 7.99, with eight gigs of RAM and 64 gigs of storage. That one might be the sweet spot for this. You can also get an i 5, with eight gigs of RAM and 128 gigs of storage for 1000 or the i7 version, with 16 gigs of ram and 256 gigs of storage for about 1600. These are not inexpensive and I’m having a really hard time. Finding the value proposition for the high price point here really does not offer what an iPad or a surface device might offer. Insofar as software is concerned, and then on top of the tablet price, you have to factor in the keyboard and the pen to get the complete package here. So the keyboard is 200 we’ll talk more about its functionality in a minute, and the pen will run you a hundred bucks, so you can see where things really start escalate and how the entry level version ends up costing you 900. Now the tablet is very nice. It’S got a very nice, build quality to it. It is a 12 inch tablet, so it’s a little larger than some of the 10 inch Android tablets you might be familiar with so be prepared for that. It weighs about 1.6 pounds or 700 grams on its own, but adding the keyboard to the mix adds about a pound, and that brings you to 2.
7 pounds or at 1.21 kilograms, but it is very thin and light. It’S got Gorilla Glass 5 on it. So it’s a latest and greatest there, the display itself is ultra sharp. It looks really nice it’s, a 3000 by 2000 resolution display really crisp, especially for reading text and watching video and also relatively bright at 400 nits, but the iPad pro can go brighter than this. Can but I was very satisfied with the brightness out of it, both in dark rooms and brighter rooms, but, of course running the display brighter will impact battery life battery life on it will get you about. Am i testing about 7 hours with the display on a decent level of brightness? You can probably squeeze another hour or two out of it. If you turn that brightness down and, of course, what you’re doing with the processor will also have an impact on it. The speakers are on the front here. They are really nice. They sound great a lot of a lot of range to the sound given the relative thinness of the device overall. So I was pleased with that. You’Ve got dual eight megapixel cameras on the front and back not spectacular, but good enough for conferencing, and that sort of thing they only do a maximum of 1080p at 30 frames per second for video recording. So the iPad does a little better on that front. Now, if you are a fan of headphone jacks, you will be disappointed.
There is no headphone jack on this large device. They do give you a USB type c to headphone adapter in the box. If you want to hook up your headphones, you can also, of course, hook up Lou tooth to it if you need to, but they do have two USB type c ports which was nice to see there’s one on this side and another one on the other side And these are full service ports, so you can get power in along with display and data out and we’ll plug something into this in a little while to test that. So that was nice to see. But those are the only two ports – the device just two multifunction USB seaports. You have a volume rocker here on this side. The power switch doubles as a fingerprint reader. So I can just put my finger on there and get my fingerprint most of the time to recognize and it does a pretty good job of getting that recognition to work, no matter which way my finger goes so that sits there at the top. I get the impression that they really want you to use it most of the time in landscape mode, given how they oriented the speakers and the power switch and the camera there’s. No other ports, though, on the other side just at USB C port, and that is pretty much it so a pretty Spartan device from a port perspective and then you’ve got the Pogo plugs here on the bottom for the keyboard.
Now the keyboard isn’t bad. In fact, I do like the typing experience and I’m surprised that I do because it has these different, looking rounded keys, but they’re well, spaced there’s, decent tactile feedback on them. Really. Nice travel actually considering the relative thinness of the keyboard dock as a whole, but it does seem to function quite well. My problem, though, is just with how fluid it all is. You can see the display here just kind of moving around on its own when I’m picking it up that same experience is what I have when it’s on my lap. It just feels disjointed, and not all that rigid one of the things that the surface devices do is allow you to kind of lock the keyboard into the tablet, to give it some rigidity. This doesn’t have that so your display is always kind of floating around here, and that was something that I did not like. The keyboard is backlit. I do believe you have to activate that backlighting manually you’ll hold down the Alt key here and hit your brightness keys and that will turn up or down the backlighting on the keyboard it’s, decent and it’s nice that they were able to work that in there. And I would expect nothing less out of a two hundred dollar accessory to at least be able to do that now. There is a problem, though, with the Flex on the keyboard, especially related to the trackpad, on the surface of a desk.
Here, the trackpad is nice. It’S very responsive it’s got a nice clip to it. It also has surprisingly good travel. The problem, though, is that, if you flex the keyboard at all, especially when it’s on your lap you’ll register false clicks from time to time, so you can see just by doing a little bit of that we were able to actually click the mouse button from the Bottom here it actually registered a click. I could do it again just by doing the same thing here, so you want to be careful when it’s on your lap. If you tend to be a heavy type ER, you might have inadvertent mass pushes because of how thin it is and how easy it is to trigger the trackpad here, just by flexing its so be aware of that now to adjust the display. All you have to do is just kind of slide it up and down which works pretty well. Actually, you’ve got a lot of different options for where you place the display. As a result of that which was nice, I did find occasionally, though, if you put too much pressure on it, it will kind of move down on its own. So, if you’re really banging on the display or something you might have it slide down on you a little bit, especially as you have it down in one of these modes here now my particular one doesn’t feel like it’s docking, all that well, I can still see Some of the Pogo plugs kind of poking through here on the bottom and occasionally as I’m, adjusting the display it’s running in and out of tablet mode.
But what I really don’t like about the keyboard case is how it feels when you have it folded up it. Just slides around here on the top, as you can see, it’s really not a good experience, especially when you’re trying to walk around with this thing, and it keeps moving under your hand that is not cool out of a 200 dollar device. There should be something to kind of hold it in place so that it feels like a regular notebook. Not this. This is not a 200 dollar experience right here, so let’s take a look now and see how it performs we’ll take a look at some web browsing. First and jump around on a few pages on the nasa website, so things seem to load up pretty quickly and pretty snappy on here. Even at the high resolution, I have noticed when I’m jumping around into different tabs and whatnot that there’s, sometimes some sluggishness with it. I did have some things locking up on me within the browser as well. Hasn’T happened a lot, but there have been a couple of things here and there a few other people who’ve been reviewing. This have noticed similar issues with it YouTube playback, isn’t bad on here either we’ve got my 1080p 60 video running here. We are getting dropped, frames here and there, especially in high motion scenes like this one, but only a few so it’s not as good as it should be, but it’s also not terrible.
But again we are seeing a few drop frames with this 1080p 6. The video running here that you may or may not notice, but generally the overall browsing experience was acceptable and on the browser bench org speedometer test, we got a pretty low score of forty two point: seven for the Google pixels slate again powered by the Celeron processor. That puts it slightly below what we saw out of two devices powered with a MediaTek ARM processor, both of those the lenovo c 330, and the Acer Chromebook r 13 cost a lot less than what you’re going to pay for this one. And that was a pretty remarkable result there. So this is a rather high price to pay for performance that you can get out of a 200 or 250 dollar Chromebook with an ARM processor. That was very disappointing there and a lot of what you’re going to see when we jump into Android, and Linux is indicative of some of the issues you’re going to face with the 599 entry version of the device. Now, when you detach the tablet from the keyboard, the Chrome operating system switches into tablet mode, and when it does this, you saw we had two windows up before the other browser window. We were looking at goes away, it doesn’t disappear. You can gain it back. Just by clicking on this little button down at the corner, likewise, you can also drag down from the top to get that same interface, and then I can run these in split screen.
If I want so, I can have one on one side of the screen here and another on the other side, so it works. You can put some other apps into this as well, so you could, for example, maybe load up an Android app in that space, but not all Android apps support this split screen mode. So some will let you do it some won’t. The iPad has a similar problem. There, but you can see just how sluggish this feels on this lower end, Intel, processor and I’m. Sure the four gigs of ram here is having a role to play as well. So again, I think avoiding the 5.99 version would be appropriate. One thing I wish they would do with Chrome OS is to allow you to still have it work in desktop mode. When you are in fact attached the windows surface devices, let you do that and actually that’s how I use my surface go. I rarely have it work in tablet mode, just because I like having the ability to move windows around chroma at the moment. Doesn’T. Let you do that. Maybe at some point they’ll make a change to allow that if you want your windows and the ability to kind of arrange them any way you want, you have to get it read acht in order to do that and that’s one of the challenges that I think A lot of these devices face is that if you’ve got a desktop operating system, how do you make it work best in a tablet form factor, and it looks like they’re kind of taking Microsoft’s approach to it without giving the user the choice between how they want To use it and that’s one thing: I give Apple credit, for they have a computer and they have an iPad and that’s it.
You can’t make one work like the other, you buy the one that you really want to use, and I think this is one of the issues you have when you’re trying to adapt a desktop operating system into a tablet. One and I have found it to be a bit ungainly and heavy when you’re holding it in your hand, primarily because you have to keep your thumbs on the bezels. So what happens here is that if I just happen to rest my thumb in between the bezel and the display, you can see that when I go to scroll here, it kind of gets confused as to what my intent is and thinks. I actually have two fingers down on the display and that’s one thing: the iPad is really smart about that. If your thumb is resting on the display, it just completely ignores it and knows that you intend to scroll here. You really have to keep your thumb away from the screen if you want to be able to interact with the display – and this puts a lot of strain and pressure on this part of my hand again. This is not all that heavy it’s one point six pounds, but it’s a lot more comfortable to maybe have a your thumb extended a bit more but again as you do that you can’t actually interact with the display is freely now again. You’Ve got an option for a 99 pen. The pen is powered by a quadruple a battery, so it’s, not rechargeable there’s, also no place to really put it.
It doesn’t dock to anything on the tablet, as it might, with the iPad or with the surface devices, but you can do some cool stuff with it. So if you’re just browsing a website, for example, you can use the magnifying glass feature here, for example, to zoom in on a portion of the screen, that’s kind of neat there’s, a laser pointer option as well. So if you have this hooked up to an external display, you can draw on things as you present to point out things to folks. They also have this cool thing that if you hold push and hold the button here, you can draw a circle around something. So, for example, if I want to maybe get more information about what I see here, drawing a circle around, it will pull up information on both NASA and SpaceX, which is kind of cool. It uses the Google assistant for that. I found, though, that it’s relatively limited I’ve tried to circle. Some random stuff and didn’t always get a result, but if it can read text or see a photo that it is familiar with, it will get you results that can maybe more quickly allow you to search for something. So I thought that was kind of cool. Now the pen will also work as a text input device. So if you’re on a website or using a word processing application or something normally, the keyboard will pop up when you are in a text input field.
But you can just tap on the little squiggly icon here and then start writing things out by hand, and it will recognize your handwriting as you go and I found to be fairly accurate. If you let it sit here for a second, it kind of fades away and assumes that what that’s what you wanted, but it does give you some other options here as you’re writing as it’s, detecting what you’re doing so. The handwriting recognition on Chrome OS is pretty decent, actually a lot better than my Newton was back 20 years ago. There’S. Not much, though, in the way of apps that really make use of the pen, the pen does have pressure sensitivity, it’s very similar to what you might have on the surface. It’S not as good though as the Apple pencil, which I think is the best in the market and unfortunately, there’s not a lot to really demonstrate what you can do with this pen on Chrome, OS or Android. At the moment it looks like Google’s really pushing the Google key path, as the note taking app of note here on the platform, so you can get some idea as to how the pressure sensitivity works here. So I can do a very light line here or push down harder and get something thicker. It does have fairly decent risk detection, but I found that if my pen is just a little bit far away, it starts to move around again it’s, not until the pen gets really close to the screen that it kind of locks in and lets you keep writing.
So from the standpoint of its functionality versus its competitors, it does seem to do okay. I think the risk detection needs a little bit of work, but it does have pressure. Sensitivity like you might find on the Apple or Microsoft pens, but there’s, just no software out there that really takes advantage of this platform. Yet this is really the only device in the Chrome OS lineup that does this at the moment. So you really won’t have much to do with this pen if you bought it. So if you are a creative professional looking to do your work on a tablet and I or a surface is a much better buy than this is going to be right now now, given this is a flagship Google device we do have the assistant built in. So I can say, hey turn on my couch lamp and you can see there. It was able to turn on my couch lamp. Just like you might use a Google home assistant force, so it does have all that integration. Now, if you don’t want to have it always listen, you can turn that off, but still use the assistant with the keyboard, which I think was kind of cool so down here at the bottom. There is an assistant key if you type on that you’ll see it’s, not recognizing any text. That I’m saying I have to type it in, but I can basically tell it to turn on my couch lamp here with just a key command, and it will do that.
So that was kind of neat for people that want to use the assistant, but don’t want their microphone listening all the time now, if you are using other Google listening devices in your home, the slate here will defer to them. So I have a Google Home Hub upstairs and even though this was right next to me, it was deferring to the Google home hub on the other side of the room, when both devices heard me issued the trigger word. So it was smart enough about working with other things and figuring out what your intent might be there. One note, though, is that when you do push the key your only option when you do push it is to type you can’t start speaking unless you tap on this microphone icon down here, but overall I thought they did a nice job, integrating Google assistant with this Device now, like most Chrome, OS devices you might buy today it does run Android apps, but it still feels a bit disconnected. Google has come a long way in this integration. It is getting better and better. Apps, like the Google Play Store here, can be resized any which way you want. So you’ve got some of the basic functionality. You would expect out of a desktop operating system, but have your favorite mobile apps running with it, but it still feels slower than the native stuff. Is you can see here when we redraw the screen? It takes it a little bit longer to get everything re rendered, whereas the Google Chrome window here is very fast because it is a native application running on Chrome, OS versus what they’re doing with the Android apps here and even Google keep, which is the main note.
Taking app on the device, that’s kind of integrated into the interface it’s, actually an Android app, and it runs pretty slowly to when you’re trying to resize windows. Or do you can see? Sometimes, when you do a resize like that, there is a bit of a delay in redrawing the screen for you. So this is the kind of stuff you’ll encounter. You’Ll also have that happen where the thing will crash on you and that’s. The other problem I’ve had with it is that it’s been feeling very glitchy, I’m getting crashes I’m, getting lock. Ups on the browser, as I mentioned, I was hearing some weird clicks out of the speakers and it’s also not going to be something I’m recommending to gamers. It does play a lot of the games. You’Ll find in the Google Play Store, but they are sluggish on here. I’M. Definitely not getting the full frame rate that I would get out of an Android tablet, for example here with Crossy Road. So your gaming performance will not be spectacular on it and I think you’re better off looking at an iPad or a surface device for that now, a few months ago, Google added the ability to run Linux applications on your Chrome OS devices, even some of the low End devices do it this one does as well, so I’ve got the command line up here I can load up. My favorite text editor Nano that our friend Chris alligretto had a big part in, so you can see that working, but you can also load up other Linux applications.
So I’ve got the installed on here too, so I can do actual photo editing with it and again this is not a Android app. This is a Linux application and I’m just going to load up a quick image here, real, quick and edit it, and we can see how that works. It’S not going to be the fastest experience on here. This would certainly run faster even with this same chip on a dedicated Linux computer, but I can do things here with the pen, for example, I can actually manipulate the images with the pen make selections with the pen, so you do have the ability to do some. Pretty cool stuff using Linux applications on your Chromebook once you activate this feature, I did another video on this, where you can see exactly how to get it up and running and find software for it all right. One last thing to check out, and that is the USB type c functionality on the tablet. You’Ve got two USB C ports and again these are full service ports for data, video and power, and I’ve got this card reader plugged in with some files on the card. There and you can see it pulls up a file manager, so I can move files around and manipulate them. I don’t believe this will work with Android at the moment. I do know that’s on the road for Google’s, so at some point, you’ll be able to access this directly from your Android apps.
In the meantime, they do have a section of my files called play files where you can move things in and out of your Android environment. The same is true with Linux. You can move files into the Linux application space by dragging them from your external storage. To that, although this has to get moved to the internal storage of the tablet here first but again, they will be adding some functionality later for gaining access to that external storage there, and I also connected it up to an external display with a display port adapter And it worked just fine at the full resolution, so that worked, but I found my portable display here, which is this a Susan screen that works just through a single USBC cable did not work. It wouldn’t even power up. So I wonder if there’s a limit to how much power comes out over those ports to power the display. This did work on the iPad and on the surface, go, but not on the pixel slate here. So there’s going to be potentially some limitations as to what you can do with these ports, but at least insofar as the basics are concerned, we were able to get external storage connected external displays, but not self powered external displays like this one. But overall I am not pleased with the pixel slate. I don’t think it has solved any of the problems we’ve seen on other attempts at Chrome, OS tablets. Android is still a little flaky on here, more so than it should be on a flagship device and if you’re looking at this or the iPad or the surface, those other two products are much better.
They are much more polished, they’ve been out for a longer period of time. There is a greater software library that takes advantage of all their features. This thing really doesn’t do more than a 200 Chromebook does yet it has some very nice hardware that is largely underutilized, and the price here is just a lot to ask for what it really is, and hopefully we’ll see more development on Chrome OS over the next Couple of months that might improve the situation, but right now this is not something I am comfortable recommending until next time. This is Lion Simon, thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the lon TV supporters, including gold level supporters, Chris Allegretto, the four guys with quarters podcast Tom Albrecht, Gerard Newberg, in Kellyanne Kumar. If you want to help the channel you can, by contributing as little as a dollar a month Music head over to LAN TV, slash, support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe visit.