First, a dirty little secret about product reviews: you would like to integrate each product into your daily use, but that's just not possible. Especially when dealing with the volumes we are dealing with here. From time to time, however, the stars line up. You end up several days after a two-week trip to Asia, when Google spends the night at Pixel Slate.
In the end, it's the best way to put a product to the test, to find yourself stranger in a foreign country, forced to struggle with an unknown product. The new Google convertible has crossed two countries and one autonomous territory, from the illuminated neon streets of Mario Kart to the gadget-lit markets of Shenzhen, to the crowded hostels of the Hong Kong Chunking Mansions, where showers are the toilet the owner knocks on your door after midnight, demanding payment.
This is not the kind of experience for which I would have suggested playing guinea pigs a few years back. Google's operating systems are often slow and Chrome OS is certainly no exception. The first Chromebooks were, at best, novelties, underpowered machines with little to differentiate themselves from previous generation netbooks. Except, of course, an operating system barely working offline.
But even if the mere existence of the category had been (rightly) questioned by experts, Google continued to flee. The company has continued to add features to Chrome, turning the browser-based operating system into a near desktop operating system system. In 2013, the company unveiled the Chromebook Pixel, a high-end notebook designed to show what Google "could do if we really wanted to design the best possible computer at the best possible price," according to Sundar Pichai, then senior vice president. .
Even though the Chromebook ended up dominating the classroom in the next few years, Google still had something to prove. The company has never been pleased to see its operating system relegated to the fore. The Pixelbook of last year was a great success. At the top of Chrome's features and exclusive design, the device pushed the boundaries of what a Chromebook can do.
Last December, Google quietly pulled out the Pixel C. Google acknowledged TechCrunch: "Our recently launched Google Pixelbook combines the best features of a laptop and a tablet with those looking for a laptop . versatile device. "
In March, however, the company teamed up with Acer to launch an educational Chrome tablet just before Apple's big educational event. And then, last month, he launched the Pixel Slate. More than anything, the Slate feels like a sister device of the Pixelbook. In fact, from the point of view of specifications, it would be very difficult to distinguish the devices.
The lack of distinction between the products really stood out during my time with the device. The detachable elements are excellent from the point of view of versatility, but how often do you end up using them? After almost two weeks of traveling with the Slate, I can not think of one occasion that deserves to be removed from the keyboard dock. Hell, the dock is even better for watching videos – I would rather use built-in support than having to hold it for the duration of a movie.
It's a reality of life. If you opt for a convertible computer instead of a dedicated laptop, you will sacrifice some. The gap between the two seems to be decreasing over generations, but the same goes for Slate. The Pixelbook is simply the best typing experience of both devices. That said, Slate is without a doubt one of the best typing experiences I've had on a keyboard.
Keyboards are one of the most important ways to keep me from seriously considering the use of a hybrid tablet on a daily basis. The round keys of the Slate case fit perfectly, and I did not take too long to get into the rhythm. Halfway through my first story, I could imagine myself sorting everything out on Slate.
Chrome OS has also improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. In 2016, Google announced a clever solution to Google's problem. problem of application. The company would bring the Play Store to the operating system. At the time, the company told TechCrunch that it was a "powerful way to bring these two worlds together." But more than anything, it's a smart workaround.
I found myself downloading several different apps from the Play Store, and in a number of cases, I had the same complaint that I had on Pixelbook. Try to download and load a less common application, and it will open with the dimensions of the smartphone displayed on your screen. Try to get the normal size and the following window appears: "This application needs to restart to resize and may not work properly when resized."
Another app gave me the simplest (and honest): "Sorry! This device is not compatible. "
The last time I went to China with the Pixelbook, I ran into a lot of these problems. I had a great ambition to edit my podcast on the 14-hour plane ride, but I finally gave up looking for a decent Audacity replacement after downloading and installing half a dozen different apps. These issues are understandable for a new operating system, but Chrome OS has been running for about seven years now. This can always give the impression of a frustrating mixture of full operating system and user experience insufficiently cooked.
As with the iPad Pro, Pixel Slate software defects can be particularly frustrating when paired with high-end hardware. I could still do most of what I needed on the Slate, but the inability to fully connect some points made me wonder why I would not just choose a full laptop, nine times out of 10.
Price is a factor, certainly. The slate starts at $ 599, which puts the 12.3-inch device well below the $ 799 entry of the 11-inch iPad (although it comes with 64GB of storage space ). This price includes a superb screen of 3000 x 2000 pixels, surpassing the 2400 x 1600 of the Pixelbook.
The customization is really the name of the game here. The Slate has more configurations than the Pixelbook, which allows you to meet the $ 1,599 specifications for a 16GB model of RAM, 256GB of storage (half of the maximum Pixelbook) and a Core i7 processor. Of course, if you want the keyboard and the pen, it will also cost you $ 199 and $ 99, respectively. It should be noted that the keyboard brings the total weight of the device to 2.7 kg, more than the Pixelbook (2.6 kg) and the MacBook 12 inch (2.03 kg).
The keyboard is really essential because the operating system is put in Desktop UI mode as soon as it is docked. Of course, you can also continue to drag from bottom to top to display the Applications pane. As a daily driver of my Mac, it's mind-boggling that Apple did not bring the full functionality of the touch screen to the office. The touch bar really does not replace this feature and after using the Slate Pixel for a few days now, I always find myself reaching out to touch the screen. "One day, I whisper softly before returning to the task at hand.
Other small touches such as the split screen and tabs that can be slid into their own windows are also nice, which gives the device a little more credibility as a working machine. The pen is a good complement, although I found a lot less use during my day.
In the end, I would probably choose not to spend that extra $ 99 – especially without an easy way to store it in the iPad Pro. Rather than rechargeable batteries, these are AAAA, which are quite rare, a shorter and thinner version of AAA batteries. They're around if you look – I was a little surprised to see them stocked at my local Walgreen.
The Pixel Imprint fingerprint reader / power button combo is a good idea. The loss of the headphone jack, meanwhile, is a blow. I found myself immersed in the use of my helmet. It's just a fatality in 2018, I suppose. I also like the fact that Google left with a USB-C connector on each side, rather than sticking them both on the same board as the MacBook Air. This gives you a little more leeway on the front of the accessories.
I do not regret having packed the slate Pixel. I have far worse travel companions, humans and gadgets. Like the Pixelbook, the tablet is intended to be a showcase of what Chrome can do on solid hardware. And again, this is the case of hardware that surpasses the software, even as it blurs the Google Chromebook strategy.
As an operating system, Chrome has made giant strides in recent years and it is no wonder that it is becoming a pillar of the classroom. However, if it is a serious desktop operating system for businesses, there is still much to be done.