The Pixel Slate leaked right before the official Google hardware event today, managing to fly mostly under the radar while the Pixel 3 leaked left and right. But now Google has taken the wraps off of everything, and we’re getting a good look at the Chrome OS powered tablet that wants to be your mainstay computer.
No Android here, unfortunately, but it does look like Google’s crafted something pretty remarkable.
The Pixel Slate does seem to be positioned as an addition to, but not a replacement for, the Pixelbook. It still combines the standard Chrome OS flavor of Linux with emulated Android applications, but the keyboard is separate and the interface is specifically designed to be a tablet, not a laptop or phone pretending to be a tablet, as Google puts it.
Tablet meets desktop class hardware
The hardware on the Pixel Slate is nothing to sneeze at, with a crisp, high-resolution 3000×2000 screen with 400 nits of peak brightness, a detachable keyboard, and 12 hours of battery life, but the rest of the hardware has a really, really large swing in capabilities. Google is selling versions of this tablet with anywhere from an Intel Celeron CPU up to an 8th-gen Core i7 , and RAM swinging from 4GB to 16GB. That’s going to be excellent for price conscious consumers, but keep in mind that you’re not going to get stellar productivity from a Celeron CPU with 4GB of RAM in 2018.
But the biggest thing that’s going to catch your eye will be the reimagined Chrome OS interface that’s actually built for a tablet form factor, not a laptop. Google Assistant is present along with a launcher that’s made for a touch screen, but you still get the desktop version of websites so it still works as a bona fide productivity machine. Touch interfaces on desktop sites can lead to some pretty mixed results, so hopefully Google knows what they’re doing here.
You’ll still get Google’s excellent suite of Chrome OS apps and programs, plus everything that Chrome already offers, but the Play Store is fully baked in. You can download your favorite apps and games and actually use them with the Slate’s touchscreen, which makes for a much better experience than most everything else on the market. Oh, and there’s a fingerprint scanner on the side in the power button that utilizes Google’s new Titan security chip.
Pixel Keyboard, Pixel Pen
This is where the Pixel Slate really steps into the Surface Go’s territory; if you want to use this thing as a full productivity machine, you’re going to need the separate keyboard and pen, and those will cost extra. The pen is the same Pixelbook Pen from last year, and it’ll still hit your wallet for a cool $99, while the keyboard is new and runs $199.
With all of that being said, the new keyboard actually looks pretty slick. Google has crafted this thing to work specifically with Chrome OS, so the keys all correspond with Chrome OS navigation options and there’s even a dedicated Google Assistant button. It’s backlit and uses Hush Keys, which Google claims are incredibly satisfying to type on without making a ton of noise. As someone who religiously uses mechanical keyboards I felt personally attacked by that part of the keynote, but that’s a conversation for another time.
Pricing is painful, honestly. That base $599 model gets you a Celeron CPU with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. If you only need it for light usage that makes sense, but that price makes it a not-so-compelling option. Getting a legitimate Intel Core processor automatically starts you at $999, and things only go up from there. It’s legitimately one of the nicest Chrome OS options on the market, though, so if you just can’t stand MacOS or Windows 10, I guess you can’t complain.
The Pixel Slate will be available later this year through Google.
Read more: Google