The Pixel C was one of the best Android tablets available when I reviewed it close to a year ago. Having used it as my primary tablet since then I can confirm this remains the case, but that’s largely because noone has bothered releasing anything to challenge it.
The Pixel C’s hardware has aged well. Unlike most of the Android tablets I long-term test I haven’t noticed any serious slow down, or reductions in battery life with the tablet section of the Pixel C.
The Nvidia CPU and 3GB of memory aren’t the most powerful components around any more, but they’re still fit for purpose. The Pixel C still smoothly navigates between menu screens and plays even the most demanding of Android games and applications chug and stutter free.
Thanks to recent updates to its Android Marshmallow operating system, close to all the niggling bugs I occasionally noticed have been ironed out, making the Pixel C one of the most reliable tablets around.
The use of unskinned Android also means it’s almost certain the Pixel C will be upgraded to Android Nougat when the update arrives later this year.
The screen continues to be one of the best I’ve seen on an Android tablet, though it’s not quite on a par with the 9-inch iPad Pro’s. The panel hasn’t degraded at all and continues to offer great uniformity, colour balance and brightness levels.
Battery life for the tablet section remains strong. The tablet still lasts a solid three days with regular use. Regular use entails watching streaming cartoons before I go to work and bed, intermittently browsing the web and checking my social media feeds and the odd gaming session throughout the day.
Intensive tasks have begun to take a slightly larger toll on the battery, however. Streaming video now eats up between 10-15% of the tablet’s battery every hour. Brand new the process only ate up around 9-12%. Gaming also takes a bigger toll on the battery and eats up around 25% of the Pixel’s charge every hour, where before it only drained around 15%.
The keyboard dock hasn’t aged as well as the tablet. The key’s are still comfortable to type on and I have no complaints about the dock’s build quality, but the charging mechanism has become fiddly to use.
To charge the keyboard you have to place the tablet face down on it and connect it to the the mains. When I first started using the Pixel C the process worked a treat, but within the last month I’ve found it a little hit and miss. All to often I’ve left thinking I’ve left the tablet and keyboard charging, only to find the keyboard hasn’t picked up any juice. The connection fail is hit and miss and I’ve found no rhyme or reason to the inexplicable failures.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy the Pixel C at the moment, despite it having aged well as it’s currently overpriced. The £399 price tag was hefty when the Pixel C first came out and the fact Google has cut it means the unit is now too expensive.
There aren’t many rival devices out at the moment, but I expect we’ll see a fresh wave of Android tablets from Lenovo and Samsung at IFA in September. Google will also likely unveil a new tablet, hopefully a Nexus 7, later this year.
I’d recommend waiting and seeing what the new tablets bring to the table before shelling out for a Pixel C.
You can read Trusted’s original Pixel C review below
Google’s touting the Pixel C as “the most advanced Android tablet” ever made, and for good reason. It features a wealth of top-end hardware, including a powerful Nvidia X1 CPU, ultra-sharp 10.2-inch screen, and a latch-free docking mechanism that connects the Pixel C to an optional keyboard cover.
Luckily, Google’s description is on the money, and the Pixel C is one of the best Android tablets I’ve ever seen, if not the best – at least from a hardware perspective.
Watch: 5 things you need to know about the Google Pixel C
The Pixel C is one of a select few devices actually built by, rather than for, Google, following on from the firm’s previous Chromebook Pixel.
It aims to be “the ultimate Android tablet” for both work and play. Out of the box I can confirm it’s a big step up compared to the HTC-made Nexus 9 – Google’s other tablet. It’s got a minimalist metal frame, with the only real design feature being a light line along part of its back.
The tablet’s 517g weight means it’s fairly comfortable to hold and suitably satchel-friendly, although its front edges are a little sharper than I’d like.
The anodised aluminium used to build the Pixel C’s chassis also has a nice premium feel and left me suitably assured that it can survive the wear and tear expected of a daily-use tablet. Having accidentally dropped the Pixel C onto my flat’s hardwood floor I can personally attest to its durability. (Sorry, Google.)
Related: Best tablets 2015
My review unit came bundled with the optional keyboard, which you can pick up for £119. It connects to the tablet using a new magnetic docking mechanism that doesn’t feature any fiddly hooks or latches.
All you have to do is hold the bottom of the tablet close to the keyboard and the two will snap together. This would be great if from there you could type away to your heart’s content. Sadly that’s not the case. Instead you have to pair the tablet and keyboard using Bluetooth.
This isn’t a deal breaker – plenty of competing convertibles do exactly the same thing – but I’m a little sad that the docking mechanism isn’t as simple as the Surface Pro 4’s Type Cover or iPad Pro ones, which works the moment you attach them to the tablet.
The keyboard's occasional input lag, however, is a little harder to forgive. Once in a while the keyboard would stutter and ignore certain key presses, making typing on it a frustrating experience.
Outside these instances, as Android tablet keyboards go, the Pixel C’s is very good. The keys feel a little squished together, though I don’t see how Google could avoid this happening when you consider the Pixel C’s 242 x 179 x 7mm dimensions. They also partially make up for their bunched-up layout by having great travel.
My only serious concern is that, like the iPad Pro's, the keyboard doesn’t have a trackpad. However, with the ability to connect a Bluetooth mouse to this device, this is less of a problem for desk-based work, although still a concern when it's being used as a laptop.
Related: Best Android tablets 2015
The Pixel C comes loaded with a 10.2-inch display. This makes it one of the smaller convertible options on the market. The iPad Pro features a giant 12.9-inch screen, while the Surface Pro 4 packs a similarly large 12.3-inch display.
This may put off people looking for a bigger tablet, but again reinforces the Pixel C’s travel-friendliness.
When it comes to overall screen quality, the Pixel C is excellent. The 2560 x 1800 resolution gives it an impressive 308ppi (pixels per inch) density. This ensures icons and text on the screen are universally sharp and never difficult to read, despite the tablet’s compact dimensions.
Google claims the screen covers all of the sRGB colour gamut, and has a reported 500 nits maximum brightness. I’d take this claim with a pinch of salt – I’m yet to see an Android tablet cover 100% of the sRGB colour gamut. But my naked eye impressions are positive.
Colours on the Pixel C don’t look overcooked or too cool, as they do on many competing tablets. Viewing angles are also excellent and the tablet’s maximum brightness is dazzling – to the point that I had to set it to 60% to comfortably use it.
The screen does have a tendency to become reflective when hit by direct sunlight, but this is an issue on nearly all the tablets I review.