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Google Pixel C review

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Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Decent keyboard
  • Super-sharp screen
  • Robust design
  • Killer performance and battery

Cons

  • Lack of optimised apps
  • No touchpad
  • Expensive

Key Features

  • Optional keyboard
  • Nvidia CPU
  • 10.2-inch display
  • Android Marshmallow OS
  • Manufacturer: Google
  • Review Price: £479.00

Pixel C long-term review

When the Pixel C was released it was one of the only Android tablets worth buying. In 2017, for better or worse this remains the case. Despite being over a year old there haven’t been any other decent premium Android tablets to hit the market.

Luckily the Pixel C has aged fairly well thanks to the arrival of Android Nougat. Nougat’s new features massively improve Android’s user experience on a tablet. The split-window mode and improved notifications are particular highlights.

Multi-window support isn’t anything new – Samsung added the feature to its TouchWiz skin many moons ago – but its appearance on Nougat is great nonetheless. This lets you open two applications at once on the Pixel by holding down the right-hand, on-screen square button.

The feature is a little hit and miss on third-party applications, which need to have code added to work in the new screen setting, but it’s still very useful, as nearly all of Google’s own apps have been optimised for it.

Since this addition I’ve found myself grabbing and using the Pixel C instead of a laptop when travelling. The improved battery life and the fact that I can have two apps opens is particularly useful for work. On regular occasions I’ve found myself writing articles at press events in Google Docs, while chatting with the Trusted team in Hangouts using the split-screen mode.

The expanded notifications system further streamlines the user experience. In Nougat the notifications are expandable. This means you can do things like replying to incoming messages and social media alerts from the notifications bar, without having to fully open the application. A drop-down menu also lets you expand notifications to get a list view of things like all your recent emails.

The additions again make the Pixel C feel a lot more like a hybrid device and a more valid option for students, or office workers looking for a truly portable backup laptop.

All this is great, but the behind-the-scenes upgrades are a little less useful on the Pixel C. The main changes in Android are a streamlined version of Doze, Vulkan support and the readdition of a JIT compiler.

Doze is a battery-saving feature introduced in Android Marshmallow that works to reduce power consumption by turning off anything but critical processes when the phone or tablet isn’t being used. The new version in Nougat is, in theory, able to save power when the device is on the move by making it only access data in intervals. Given the fact that the Pixel C doesn’t have a SIM slot, the feature doesn’t make a blind bit of difference.

Vulkan support is awesome on paper, but again isn’t directly relevant to the end user. Vulkan is a graphics API designed to replace OpenGL ES, which was used on older Android versions. It aims to make it easier for developers to make prettier-looking games that are less power intensive, by giving devs more granular controls over devices’ hardware. This, in theory, means games should be able to access, or take better advantage of, the Pixel C’s tech, but it doesn’t have any direct impact on the tablet’s overall performance.

The addition of a JIT compiler is more interesting, but again not really relevant to the Pixel C. The compiler changes how the OS installs, loads and runs apps. Specifically it makes it so Android compiles application data as and when it’s needed, rather than doing so beforehand like an AOT compiler does. This sounds great, but on the Pixel I didn’t notice any marked performance improvements. This is likely because the Pixel is already fairly powerful, featuring an Nvidia CPU and 3GB of RAM. The only time you’ll notice a marked change in performance thanks to the shift is when using lower-powered devices, with less memory.

Long-term verdict

The Pixel C has aged very well and remains the best Android tablet around, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy it. Despite it having aged well, it’s currently overpriced, with pricing starting at a hefty £479.

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 MWC, which is right around the corner. 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

What is the Google Pixel C?

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.

However, with Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 already jostling for prosumers’ interest, the Pixel C is facing pretty stiff competition.

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

Google Pixel C – Design

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.)

Pixel C

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

Google Pixel C – Display

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.

Pixel C

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.

mark choletti

December 8, 2015, 9:05 pm

The Geekbench 3 multicore score for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is 4304.

Dead Words

December 8, 2015, 9:51 pm

It seems decent. The design is pretty good compared to some of the other Android tablets this year.

John

December 8, 2015, 11:52 pm

Looks pretty good but including the keyboard and the price is around £650-£700. That sort of pricing is insane when you can pick up a 11.6" Chromebook for £150 (the Acer 720 for example is superb). Android is great for phones and simple tablets but it simply doesn't scale well as a 'desktop' power OS - no split screens, no adjustable windows, poor multitasking, vast number of Google Play apps not optimised for tablets etc. Google trying to push it to power users is just a big, big mistake.

Great hardware design but Surface Pro 4 wipes the floor with this device from a software/hardware perspective and is just as good from a design perspective.

Tiago Bettencourt

December 9, 2015, 11:28 am

The Nvidia X1 is a Octa-core chip not a Quad-core one.

Apis Bull

December 9, 2015, 3:58 pm

It's £399 for the tablet 32GB or £479 for the 64GB + £119 for the keyboard so £598 for top spec with a Keyboard.

schriss

December 9, 2015, 4:26 pm

"Android doesn’t have inbuilt onscreen cursor support" - are you sure?? I once connected USB mouse to my phone with USB host cable and mouse cursor simply appeared and I could use the mouse, as simple as that.

John

December 9, 2015, 10:36 pm

You're going to need the storage and a keyboard, so that's £600 for a tablet with an OS unsuited to a power user. Nice hardware design, but it's massively let down by the OS (and the vast number of non-optimised apps). Android is simply too basic to scale well.

John

December 9, 2015, 10:54 pm

I think ArsTecnicha summed this up almost perfectly:

"Good

- A big, high-res screen [for a tablet]

- The all-aluminum body is a big upgrade from the squishy Nexus 9.

- A huge battery gives the Pixel C a very long runtime.

- The keyboard, if you can keep it connected, is rather nice to type on while still being compact.

Bad

- No tap-to-wake. This was on the Nexus 9.

- No always-on voice commands. What's the point of those four microphones again?

- Our unit had tons of issues. The touch screen didn't work correctly, and the hardware keyboard kept disconnecting.

- No split screen support. Android can't stand up to iOS and Windows when it comes to productivity.

Ugly

- This tablet’s entire reason for existing—to run Android—is also the worst thing about it."

Ian Cornelius

December 10, 2015, 11:36 pm

The Android OS does have support for mice. On multiple devices I've attached a Bluetooth mouse and the cursor has appeared.

John

December 11, 2015, 7:58 am

It makes you wonder with Alistair Stevenson even reviewed this machine properly. Weird that they give it a 'recommend' rating when all the other heavyweight review sites have identified hardware/software glitches and problems with this device. I don't think I'll trust this particular 'Trusted' Review.

Steve

December 13, 2015, 11:58 am

8/10? Recommended?? Are you scared of annoying Google? Most trustworthy review sites have panned this device yet you give it a glowing recommendation in this appallingly written review.

Trusted Reviews used to be one of my 'go to' places for open and honest reviews. The last 2-3 years however have seen a massive decline in quality with the scores awarded not really reflecting what has been written. It seems your reviews these days are aimed at the clueless consumer who probably buy-in to the comical scores you award rather than enthusiasts.

toboev

December 13, 2015, 4:55 pm

The Pixel C runs Android, not Chrome. So the C stands for Android, not Chrome. Got it.

MyCountryMyPrideMyGuns

December 14, 2015, 5:59 pm

Well... technically, it stands for "Convertible"

Martin Lane

January 18, 2016, 1:40 pm

I have a Pixel C and I would gladly recommend it, nothing wrong with the review.

Martin Lane

January 18, 2016, 1:54 pm

No you don't.

It's tablet first and foremost, so most users will just buy the tablet by itself and not bother with the keyboard.

You can get by with 32GB, wouldn't recommend it for the tablet, it is the bare minimum these days,.

Martin Lane

January 18, 2016, 3:16 pm

Never heard of them, seems like a very biased review,

Tons of issues? I haven't had a single issue with my Pixel C.

The negative points are subjective, a few of them could be removed.

Why no positive points for the great performance, especially graphics, or the brightness of the display? Both far exceed other devices in this price range.

Martin Lane

January 18, 2016, 3:42 pm

That's odd, maybe there was a compatibility issue with the device he tested, it happens

Martin Lane

January 18, 2016, 3:46 pm

Surface Pro 4 is twice the price and is more of a hybrid device, will spend most of it's time with it's keyboard dock rather than in your hand.

I already have a High End PC, I don't don't need a laptop and I certainly don't need a Surface Pro 4

Pixel C on the other hand is a great device for media consumption on the move, which is what tablets are traditionally used for.

Martin Lane

January 18, 2016, 3:48 pm

Pixel C is around 4400 multi,

But who cares, the GPU in the Tab S2 is rubbish compared to the PIxel C.

Michael Hildebrand

May 6, 2016, 3:35 pm

Seems like you're an unsatisfied customer? Why not bash the product and point out flaws, points of the review you disagree with.

Or, do you not even own one? I'm sure you know better than someone who'd paid to review them and actually spent time with it?

Which one is it?

Americasgone

June 1, 2016, 6:05 pm

Sounds good to me. I never play games and have absolutely no use for a keyboard. That is what my laptop is for. So what I will get is a fast device with a big screen and excellent graphics. More importantly, NO BLOATWARE. Bloatware is why I have turned my back on Samsung. This should be great for latrine duty or laying in bed. Will also take it when visiting friends or relatives instead of using my phone with only a 5.7 inch screen. So I am going to buy one in a day or two and if it sucks I'll just return it.

calden74

July 23, 2016, 9:31 pm

Spoken by someone who doesn't own one, has never even used one or has actually even seen one in person. I simply just don't understand why people feel the necessity to pan things they have no interest in owning. It's simple, don't like it, don't buy it. I happen to own one, bought it after my iPad Pro was unable to do those tasks that I required. I'm not saying the iPad Pro is a bad device, just that it didn't fit my needs. These negative reviews you've spoken of by the way have mostly been completely wrong. Every single negative point they've listed has turned out to be nothing but a person writing about something they didnt know how to use properly, with easy workarounds for every single issue. As the Pixel C runs Android, if you thought of it most likely it exists for it, why, simple, Android is open sourced, there are solutions for everything.

This notion that Android doesn't have any decent Tablet apps, must stop, I found and installed 95% of the apps I was running on my iPad Pro onto my Pixel C, with the other 5% being satisfied easily with just as good alternatives, in most cases, even better apps were found, such as Office HD. Though really and honesty here, how many apps does a person actually need, if you were to look at your personal app usage I would bet a $1000 that it would say you use on average, less than 10 apps. This statistic can be said about everyone, so, as there are at least 10,000 decent tablet apps for Android, if you can't find what you need, you're either not looking or are an idiot.

I also found that the apps I needed just ran better on the Pixel, why, I have access to a real file system with global search, I can mount all of my cloud, NAS and FTP sites as local folders in which every app installed can access directly without a bunch of useless Sharing functions. I can run multiple apps in the background while working on another or two or three or four, etc. In the foreground using Android N's FreeForm feature. I can connect my 4K touch monitor to it, in which not only is the resolution, aspect ratio fully supported but I can choose a custom desktop DPI to make it look more like a traditional desktop OS, the iPad Pro just looked, well huge, comical even. Extend the desktop instead of just mirroring it, which meant I could use both the Pixel C's display and monitor at the same time, with different context being displayed. My iPad Pro supported nothing. I can connect a 4 TB external HD, Wacom Intuos Drawing Board with Stylus and it's supported fully, a keyboard, mouse and HP AIO LaserPrinter in which even the scanner worked. Again, the iPad Pro supported none of this. I've installed MySQL, Perl, PHP, PyThon, Ruby, CUDA in which I wrote a custom encoder for that encodes videos almost 5x faster than my iPad Pro did.

The amount of customizations and tasks that I can do with this device is astronomical.

So, I honestly don't care what you buy or what you like, but stating that the Pixel C is a piece of junk in public has to be backed up by facts and not by what other people have said, who have agendas. Form your own opinions about products by actually using them first, as everything else is just blah, blah, it sucks because , I don't know. It just does, blah, blah, ......

The Pixel C is a fantastic product and anyone who buys it will absolutely enjoy it. Though it has it's issues..... apps, stability, speed, connectivity or looks aren't any of them. I am so convinced by this product that if you actually had one in your hand right now, you wouldn't have said anything that you just did, not a word.

calden74

July 23, 2016, 9:39 pm

Amen brother, the Pixel C is a fine product that I would recommend honesty to anyone looking for a decent tablet. The Pixel C is a fantastic alternative to the iPad, saying it sucks is simply a misguided opinion written by someone who has never actually used one before.

calden74

July 23, 2016, 9:42 pm

Not weird at all, there are trusted reviews and than there are reviews with agendas. Anyone and I mean anyone, who has actually usesd a Pixel C for a long period of time has enjoyed it. I absolutely adore mine, try it yourself before believing anyone.

Adam Bagnall

August 2, 2016, 2:08 am

looks appealing but cannot justify the price, especially in Australia, so I'll stick my Nexus 10, does everything I need it to, but does take an age to charge :(

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