Pixel C review—New hardware ignores an Android tablet’s core problem: software

SCREEN 2560×1800 10.2" (308ppi) LCD
OS Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
CPU Eight-core Nvidia Tegra X1 (four 1.9 GHz Cortex-A57 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores)
GPU Maxwell
NETWORKING Dual Band 802.11b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS
PORTS USB 2.0 Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
CAMERA 8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
SIZE 242 x 179 x 7 mm
WEIGHT 517 g
BATTERY 9000 mAh

$149 for keyboard

Google is back with yet another Android tablet. The latest hardware effort, the Pixel C, comes from an odd place inside Google: the Pixel team. Usually a "Pixel" is the latest, fancy high-end Chromebook, but with the Pixel C, the traditionally Chrome OS-centric team decided to make an Android tablet. It's not just a tablet, though, there's also a clip-on keyboard base making it a Surface-style convertible.

While the Pixel team brings a great all-aluminum body and minimal design, our unit had a ton of quality control issues. The touchscreen frequently failed to register taps and scrolling was unreliable. We also often had the keyboard disconnect from the tablet, which caused typing to go crazy. Many have wondered what was taking the Pixel C so long to come out, and we wonder if issues like this contributed to the late launch. While our review unit didn't come in a retail box, as far as we can tell, we tested a retail unit.

Even on paper, the Pixel C doesn't seem like a great idea. The company keeps iterating on hardware for an iPad competitor, but hardware was never really an Android tablet's big problem. The problem has always been software—mainly, the lack of tablet apps and the lack of an OS that really takes advantage of a big screen aren't fixed by new hardware. While we've seen hints of a split screen mode that would greatly help things, it's not present here. That makes the Pixel C tough to recommend when iOS and Windows are both much more capable on large screens.

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