Hands-on With The New Google’s Pixel Slate

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Google is finally ready to get back into tablets, only this time it’s with an operating system that’s up to the task. The Google Pixel Slate it announced and will run Chrome OS, which has matured enough over the past few years to work better on tablets. It could be seen as the company’s answer to both Apple’s iPad and Microsoft’s Surface. The Pixel Slate starts at $599, runs up to $1,699, with an additional $199 for the keyboard and $99 for the Pen.

Google is pitching this as a device that can be used for both work and entertainment, with a particular emphasis on content creators. The display seems to be up to the task – it’s 12.3 inches in size, with a resolution of 203ppi. The result is that everything from YouTube videos to email composition screens looked sharp and vivid. There’s also an emphasis on thinness and lightness. The Pixel Slate has an official weight of 1.6 pounds, and it did feel easy to carry, and to adjust the angle to my liking using the case/stand.

The Slate appeared to move seamlessly back-and-forth between desktop and tablet modes. As the name suggests, desktop mode looks like a more mouse- and keyboard-oriented interface (with capabilities like snapping two applications side-by-side as a splitscreen), while tablet mode is a more standard, touch-friendly interface, along with an on-screen keyboard. The slate is found to be bright, crisp, and have excellent viewing angles.

Despite its success on phones, it has been clear for some time that Android can’t really compete on tablets. So Google considers the Pixel Slate a fresh start, the beginning of the next big push for Chrome OS where it will be more than a platform used in schools and by enthusiasts. As a physical thing, the Pixel Slate looks and feels almost like a giant Pixel phone. It weighs 1.6 pounds, which is in the same ballpark as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro but it’s not as wide or tall.

Google has chosen to brand the screen technology it’s using, calling it a “Molecular Display.” That branding is less of a mouthful than the term for what lights up the pixels: low-temperature polycrystalline silicon, or LTPS. It’s still an LCD, but has some advantages over traditional TFT LCDs – most notably with battery life. Google claims it helps the device achieve “up to ten hours of use” between charges.

There are two USB-C ports, one on either side, capable of fast charging and 4K video output. You’ll also find a custom keyboard connector and two microphones. The power button has a fingerprint scanner on it for faster login, too. Google made this tablet to show that it’s ready to play at that level.