After it was teased at the Nexus event a few months ago, I’ve been dying to get my hands on the Pixel C tablet hybrid to see if it’s any good. The Pixel C is part of the Pixel lineup of the device where Google controls the hardware and the software, whereas the Nexus lineup of devices features pure Google stock Android software running on hardware that isn’t necessarily controlled by Google.
The Pixel C is certainly something special as it is designed entirely by Google. If we take a look at the packaging, you will see that it is incredibly simple and all we will need to do to get inside the box is simply slice and peel off the protective plastic wrap and slide off the top of the box. You will then see the Pixel C sitting right on top. I’m going to go ahead and put the device off to the side for a moment and take a look at what lies underneath. We have a piece of paper that says “Let’s get started”. It connects to a charger, turn on, find network, and login or sign up. And you will find more setup details on the back if you flip this piece of paper over. In terms of the accessories, we have one USB Type-C to US wall wart underneath everything and that is it for the contents of this box.
Now if we take a look back at the Pixel C and unwrap it from the protective plastic ever so carefully, we’ll start to appreciate how well of a device this is. So first of all, it’s crafted with aluminum throughout the entire body. Aluminum on the back and aluminum on the sides of the device. You have that very cool to the touch feel which I always enjoy. If you take a closer look around the device, we’ll find nothing on the bottom. There are four microphones on the top of the device to pick up all of your “Okay Google” commands from wherever you might be in your room. On the left hand side of the device, we have a USB Type-C port, a speaker grill and a volume rocker. On the left hand side, we have another speaker grill and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
As I was setting up the Pixel C tablet, I kind of fell in love with the beautiful display. It features a 10.2-inch LCD display with a 2560x1800 resolution and a 308ppi index. It has a 500 nits brightness and sRGB color gamut, 1500:1 contrast ratio, and in-cell touchscreen. It’s one of the best tablet displays I’ve laid eyes on and certainly one of the best of 2015.
So what else is new about the Pixel C? Well, it runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box and this means you get access to Google Now on tap and the battery dose feature among may other things. One thing I’ve never seen before was that the back, home and multi-tasking on screen buttons were split up. So you have the back and home buttons on the left hand side and the multi-tasking button on the right hand side. What this allows for you to do is easily navigate the device with your thumbs as you’re holding the tablet. It’s a pretty unique approach to navigating the device. I really hope to see more tablet-specific features like this in this build and future builds of Android.
The Pixel C also features an NVDIA Tegra X1 256 core Maxwell GPU and 3GB of RAM. My unit has 32GB of onboard storage. You can however upgrade to 64GB of onboard storage if you so desire. I believe it’s around $50-$100 extra. It’s really no surprise though that the Pixel C is blazing fast and buttery smooth. It runs stock Android Marshmallow and has a powerful processor backing it all up. I’m not even going to talk about the cameras beyond mentioning the fact that there is a 2MP front and 8MP rear-facing camera sensor. The speakers are pretty decent. They’re not front-facing speakers but they do get very loud. To be honest, they didn’t blow me away on first impressions but they’re honestly not bad. They’re stereo speakers but sound quality is just okay.
Based off first impressions, the Pixel C is an extremely well-built device. It runs very well, thanks to largely in part to stock Android Marshmallow. The Pixel C is a tablet and it is sold with a $149 Bluetooth keyboard that will essentially turn it into a dumbed down laptop. I ordered both versions of the accompanied keyboard to test for all of you so please stay tuned on PhoneDog.com for coverage. My only concern going forward is how optimized this software is for a large tablet. For around $500 or $650 with the official keyboard, it needs to be able to at least scratch the surface of what a fully functional and dedicated laptop can offer.