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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  • kurkosdr - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Split-screen is a problem devs aren't at fault, but Google.
  • jbelkin - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Because android only sells when it's subsidized or discounted heavily. That is why android tablets sell fine at $99 but not beyond that. The facts are that android is only fit for low end products - look at Nest now, stops working periodically - an annoyance for a phone or a tablet but deadly when in cold climates when you need the temperature maintained ... but what does Google care* - as long as the tracking info arrives back, the rest - who cares? What, you want your "free" money back?

    * one reason why google is changing its name tio alphabet, non assiciation with google branding.
  • Speedfriend - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    Android only fit for low end products? I use iOS and Android products on a daily basis and my Android phone is far more stable than my iPhone, many of my Android apps work better too. And don't get me start on iPhone reliability. The number of hours I have wasted in my life trying to get an iPhone repaired because the touchscreen or fingerprint reader has broken again. We use iPhone as our work phone and the reliability is awful compared to our laptops and PCs.
  • vanilla_gorilla - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    I've got right at 480 iOS devices registered in Air-Watch so my anecdote > your anecdote, and we don't have any of the problems you're describing. The only time an iPhone breaks is when someone drops it or the rash of iPhone 5 we had years ago with the battery issue (for which Apple had a replacement program).
  • fastfreddy68 - Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - link

    jbelkin I read your stupidity and cant hold back . Tablets dont sell much because the "niche" they had is gone. Phablets replaced it. Apple six plus is a direct result of the popularity of Samsungs NOTE 4 and f,,,, Android. The Google pixel isnt sold to the poor Rube it cost more then some Iphones.Obviously you are some FANBOY. I'll put my LG V20 up against your Iphone any day.
    People like Android because of the creativity it allows.
    NFC and Waterproofing a direct result of Androids popularity. Claiming Android is only for the poor is so 5 years ago. Maybe instead of buying another Apple product you should buy a clue.!
  • extide - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    While I agree the Asian desire for CORESSSSSSS is a bit off, I don't think it really has anything to do with it. Ultimately most people don't care what processor is in the tablet. They care is it slow/crappy? If not, its ok.
    The software ecosystem, on the other hand, is the big deal. Android is well known for not having many good tablet focused apps. That is a much bigger issue than the cpu and stuff. I mean obviously this thing has great build quality, that's not holding it back.
  • easp - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    The lack of good Android tablet software is a problem, but the fact that the Android tablet and phone market is dominated by SoCs with too many cores and too little single-thread performance is a big problem.

    I don't think its fair to place blame solely at the feet of asian customers. Plenty of spec-obsessed western customers have taken the bait too.

    The poor single core performance means that javascript web apps are slow, because Javascript engines are single threaded.
  • jbelkin - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    it does matter. high spec high cost android tablets do not sell - just like $1,500 chromebooks or WIN PC's. The max price for an android tablet is $99 and $299 for a chromebook.
  • johnnyzleong - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    "The Google ecosystem is focused on ignorant third-world consumers that think more cores are somehow better than faster individual cores."
    Holding a iPad makes you feel so good isn't it?
  • McDuncun - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    That`s the problem man, the Apple Market is so heavily condensed... Not with rational people or a well rounded product line but with the smug bastardized self righteous fumes that all Apple owners exude from their well bleached orifices. Stigmas are there for a reason and yes I can be petty and still make a good argument.

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