During the Google Event at the end of September, alongside the official release schedule for Marshmallow and the unveiling of the brand new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P smartphones, there was another announcement that fans have been waiting for – a brand new tablet. While the Nexus 7 and Nexus 9 are still supported and remain core products for Google, we finally saw the unveiling of the new tablet device for the Nexus line, and things are a bit different this time around. Just how different, you might wonder? Well, read ahead to find out!
While the Nexus 5X and 6P were very welcomed announcements, they were on par with expectations – upgraded specs, a new price and a few Nexus-specific features to wrap the whole thing around. However, the new tablet really shook things up. Despite effectively being the successor to the Nexus 9, this new tablet is called the Pixel C, and more than a Nexus device, it falls more in line with Google’s Chromebook devices – but powered by Android.
What we mean when we say it is more like a Chromebook device, we are talking about more than just the name. Pixel is Google’s Chromebook line, consisting of laptops meant to introduce Chrome OS to the general population and able to act as easy to use work machines. However, the Pixel C is not a laptop – it is a tablet first and foremost – and it doesn’t come with Chrome OS. Instead, the Pixel C tries to kind of split the difference, by making a Android-powered tablet that is designed for more serious work and media consumption. This becomes immediately apparent when you first take a look at it in action – it has a wireless detachable keyboard accessory that the tablet snaps onto, that turns it into a work tool that you can easily type on:
The keyboard portion, as we said, is completely detachable and wireless. It effectively acts as a cover to the tablet, and when you want to use it, you attach the tablet to a magnetic stand on the keyboard cover that places it in a traditional laptop configuration:
If that is not your thing, however, you can just use the tablet as usual, interacting through touch and voice. It’s just a regular Android tablet, after all:
In terms of specs, don’t worry, this little guy can do the trick. It comes with an nVidia Tegra X1 SoC, coupled with 3GB of RAM and a 10.2″ display with a resolution of 2560×1800. It will ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and it will be available in 32 and 64GB configurations, starting at $499. The keyboard is purchasable separately and not included by default, however. These specs alone make it a worthy successor to the previous Nexus tablet, and the new 10″ size fills in a nice little gap that the Nexus 10 no longer competes with. The focus with this tablet is definitely the keyboard attachment though, and that becomes evident not just because of the amazing engineering, but also the fact that the keyboard is meant to be a core part of the whole experience while still being able to use touch to navigate around and make selections on the screen.
It’s not trivial to make a tablet that can truly be a convertible device – if you’ve ever used one of those, you know just how unreliable the whole thing is. It starts with the specs, which are usually a compromise, but also the engineering of the hinges and connectors with the keyboard cover, the heat expelled by the device and the irregular keyboard configurations that make touch-typing near impossible – assuming they come with physical keys at all. This device attempts to fix those shortcomings by offering a lightweight OS, a full-sized keyboard, and an attachment that is wireless and doesn’t rely on a connector. While this probably won’t make Android the work-oriented OS that Google probably hopes it can one day be, it’s an important first step – and a device like this is necessary to encourage developers to make more serious work and office apps.