Final Words

Ultimately, the Pixel C ends up being a strange mix of things that may have worked together in a much more cohesive manner had it shipped with Chrome OS like it was clearly intended to. Unfortunately, Android just doesn’t provide an acceptable tablet experience, and Google’s own applications are some of the biggest offenders. Before discussing that, it is worth going over the Pixel C’s hardware, as Google did a great job executing many of those aspects.

The Pixel C’s construction is solid. The build quality is superb, and it fits in well with the existing Chromebook Pixel. I definitely think the body is too heavy though, and the keyboard is far too heavy. I don’t think building tablet keyboards out of aluminum is the right way to go, even though it makes them feel very sturdy and fits well with an aluminum chassis. The mass ends up being too high compared to fabric and polymer keyboard covers, and keeping down the mass of the total package is essential to making a tablet highly portable.

As for the hardware, the first thing to talk about is the SoC. Tegra X1 is very fast on both the CPU and GPU sides, and as far as Android tablets go it offers the best graphics performance that you can get. The display on the Pixel C is also very good, with accurate color rendering and a high brightness as well as deep blacks. The greyscale accuracy could use some work, and Google needs to improve on hiding their digitizer and cutting down reflections in general, but for the most part it’s a very good panel.

Battery life on the Pixel C appears to be very good. It topped the charts in our web browsing, video playback, and BaseMark OS II battery tests. However software problems prevent me from investigating how long the battery lasts in a GPU-bound workload and a mixed workload, but for anything that primarily taxes the CPU or display it appears that the Pixel C provides best-in-class battery life.

Why does this UI show the exact same amount of info as the UI on a 4.5" phone?

Unfortunately, once you start looking at some of the other aspects of hardware and software, the problems with the Pixel C start appearing in great numbers. I’ve said this time and time again, but Android simply doesn’t offer a compelling tablet experience in any regard. With the Pixel C in particular you get a plethora of stability issues and bugs as well. Connectivity issues with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth impact the usability of the keyboard, and the entire software experience is simply unfinished. I can’t use it for very long without encountering touch input issues, freezes, and complete OS crashes. I really don't know how Pixel C shipped with the software in the state that it’s in, and it's just not acceptable. The fact that Josh also received a sample and encountered the same issues that I have confirms that they’re not specific to a single unit, and any single one of the major issues that we’ve noticed should have been enough to delay the Pixel C’s launch.

By this point I think people should know what they’re getting into when buying an Android tablet as far as the application situation goes, but the Pixel C’s problems go far deeper than that. I have been told that Google plans to issue an update that fixes the connectivity problems, touch input issues, and stability. Google has shipped me with a new unit that runs a pre-release version of this update, and Josh will be receiving his soon as well. Once that occurs, I'll be taking another look at it. That being said, the amount of time it has taken to address such show stopping bugs has been far longer than I would have expected, and if I was someone who purchased it I wouldn't be happy at all with the current situation.

At the very least, I think existing buyers should be given some public timeline of when Google plans to issue the much needed bug fixing updates. In its current state, I honestly can’t give the Pixel C any sort of recommendation, even to the biggest fans of Google products. Its software needs a lot of work, and I hope that Google's upcoming patch fixes the major problems. The Pixel C may improve with future updates, but for now it's best to hold off and see how things change going forward.

Josh's Thoughts
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  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - link

    You're paying for something that "just works". You'd be surprised at how attractive that is for a lot of people that are simply incapable of using modern tech.

    So you can either stick your fingers in your ears and demand that everyone spend years of their life becoming experts in modern tech, or you can realize that there's some money to be made. Apple is in the business of making money.
  • Alexey291 - Saturday, January 30, 2016 - link

    No offence to your and your expertness. But do you honestly think that it takes "a few years" to become an expert of playing with touchscreen devices?

    Oh boy...
  • jbelkin - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Well, not ignorant, just an economy that only supports 9% of buyers being able to afford the stnadard bearer.
  • Vlad_Da_Great - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    @jbelkin. EU are not as shallow and easy to manipulate as their USA counterparts. Also, biggest % of iPhone purchases in USA are done from people over 60y old. If you look around the globe the second biggest country with huge engineering population (India) has no interest in the iPhone.
    Asians on the other side love magic, that is what APPL is good of selling.
  • vanilla_gorilla - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    That's mostly related to income. The vast majority of those people would much prefer an Apple device if they could afford it. Most Android devices are incredible cheap devices.
  • the_comment_guy - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    What are you talking about? Apple hasn't been ableto open stores in India due to their laws requiring 30% of their components to be sourced from small to medium enterprises: that's why they've barely made a dent in the Indian phone market. Despite this, Apple's sales in India have been increasing every year. If India relaxes its backwards laws, and Apple is allowed to open their own stores, Apple sales will explode.
  • Alexey291 - Saturday, January 30, 2016 - link

    Sure the sales have grown in india. Shame about the sales in the rest of the world.

    Essentially last quarter's sales have been propped up by the Chinese and Indian sales growth. The rest of the world however...
  • akdj - Thursday, February 4, 2016 - link

    Rest of the world? As in North, South America and a dozen European countries? Apple's BLOWN their OWN records out of the water with iOS device sales. iPads are down ...unfortunately for Apple, they're built too well! Seriously, as I've owned each iPad ...we use them with our business and both original and iPad 2s are still BOTH working & battery life on the first iPad continues beating a dozen hours watching movies. Eight browsing or a good 25-30 listening to music, screen off!
    My iPad '2' purchased on launch day and the kids use it all the time. No issues ...they're replied amid don't die. Apple is continuing support for older devices. Kicking their own selves in the sack! Or ...maybe not.
    While geeks like me justify with my job, personal business and personal 'wants' the purchase of each new iPad that drops, and because of each gen's phenomenal updates. iPad 3 aside, which I owned until 4 dropped - iPad 3 left on Craigslist the following day with its updated performance so obvious. The 'new' iPad 3, IMHO, is the only anomaly to the updates and performance increases, display/resolution updates, shaving weight, maintaining battery life and dramatically boosting its 'guts', sensors, display accuracy and smaller but significant user bonuses like the A/G display stack and their lamination & out of factory calibration ....make each iPad, in my line of work, play & education priceless! Original to iPad 2, the difference was/is obvious. 2-->3, 'Retina' on the iPad, a complete game changer. Oops, same engine as the iPad 2, 4 times the resolution, drop the 4 with its Apple designed SoC monster A8X --- exponentially bettering the iPad w/Retina experience!
    While somewhat less Ferrari, more Subaru ...Air 1 is today a fantastic tablet (I've both Air 1 & 2). It's slower than its younger sibling but its sporting the first 64bit processor in a tablet and mine continues to get a lot usage. My Air 2, there's nothing on the market comparable. Not w/the App Store and its million optimized, all inclusive app/software accompanying options to aggregate and integrate with the home Mac, studio Macs or your phone/tab with Handoff. The continuity Apple's built into iOS and OS X as well as supporting older devices with both desk OS's, it's no wonder folks aren't replacing them as quickly as a phone! They're still selling a quarter more than the rest of the field does in a year! When you take the <$149 tablet choices off the table, iPad in its slump is outselling the entire industry 2-1 quarter vs. year! It's a top 100 in the Forbes 500 business itself! That's crazy IMHO. But the addition of iPad Pro changes things. Doubling the RAM on the iPhone 6s & iPad Air 2 was obvious in use, day to day was just a LOT quicker at everything than my Air 1. They've now doubled to 4GB in iPP and as an owner for 3 months, I've never been happier with an iPad. The iPad A2 still ROCKS! I use it daily and it's as robust and reliable as any predecessor, just a helluva lot faster and finally now, finally being targeted by developers to take advantage of the older products are phased out

    Which left me curious about Josh's final comment/words
    'Overall, I’m not even sure this measures up to the iPad Air 2 which is well over a year old by this point. I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone buy this tablet until the touch screen issues and generally poor performance has been resolved, and even then that recommendation would be to a limited group of people solely interested in a touch-only Android tablet.A
    I read the review a second time all the way through. I went back and read the Air 2 review as well. While a couple of benchmarks seem to have parity or even exceed A2's --- the display performance, also beating A2, it's close in your measurements but EVERY other word strongly suggests not just an inferior experience in comparison (Pixel v A2), but performance destroyed by my iPad 4! Janky, unable to maintain connection, freezes and crashes and.... I can go on, it's not necessary though. Just seems to very much understate iPad A2's performance and without reading the rest, complete overstatement of the 'experience' of PixC as a couple of benches close, neck & neck, means absolutely nothing when it comes down to the user's overall experience. My iPad 2 seems to be a better comparison!
  • lilmoe - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Nice ignorant comment bro. Way to go.
  • id4andrei - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Hardware has nothing to do with Android's problem. Dev support for tablet operation in Android is lacking. Simple.

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