Last month I published my review of the Pixel C. While I thought it was a very interesting tablet, in the end I was unable to give it any sort of recommendation due to the severe software bugs that were present. To me, this was quite surprising, as Google has a relatively good track record when it comes to the software on the Nexus devices. During the review process I reached out to Google to voice my concerns about the issues. What both concerns me and gives me hope for the Pixel C is that Google was readily aware of most of the problems I brought up. It concerns me because I think the appropriate decision would have been to delay its release, but it gives me hope that these issues will be fixed. 

During my discussions with Google, I was offered the chance to test a new unit that would run a new unreleased build containing fixes that Google planned to release to the public in the future. Given the fact that the Pixel C has solid hardware that's only let down by buggy software, the chance to see Google's improvements before they are officially released presented a great opportunity to revisit the Pixel C and determine if Google's upcoming changes can change my original verdict about the device. It seems that instead of releasing a large patch, Google has instead included these fixes with their February security bundle for the Pixel C. With it, the build number has changed from MXB48J to MXB48T, and we're looking at a slightly newer version of the Linux kernel.

Before getting into my testing and experiences with this updated Pixel C, it's worth going over the major issues that I identified during my initial review. By far the most significant problem was the dysfunctional touch input. Taps wouldn't register, swipes wouldn't register or would register as taps, and in general the touch screen was just not usable. This is something that Google was aware of, and has claimed to address in this new firmware. The second big issue was the stability and performance of the software. I encounted so many app crashes and entire OS crashes that I ended up losing a page of the review that I was writing on the Pixel C, and I was forced to abandon any attempts to do so due to the high likelyhood of it occurring again. 

While the app and OS crashes seemed to happen at random, there were two very important applications that consistently had problems. The first was PCMark, and the second was our build of GFXBench with an infinite battery test. PCMark consistently crashed at some point during its battery test, leading me to abandon my attempts to get a final result after having the test crash several times. GFXBench presented an issue where the detection of charging would cause the test to stop. I suspected that this related to the inductive charging used for the keyboard, but I couldn't confirm it.

The purpose of this article is to take a look at the new Pixel C unit provided by Google, and compare it to the one sent for the original review with the launch firmware. The main area of focus will be Google's work to fix the performance, touch input, and connectivity problems, along with some comparions that we rarely get to do due to the nature of single device sourcing. After looking at the areas where Google has made improvements, along with the areas where work is still needed, I've be able to reevaluate my original verdict on the Pixel C, and hopefully the changes will be enough to make it a tablet that is worth recommending.

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  • tuxRoller - Thursday, February 18, 2016 - link

    It's still a lot more than either windows or iOS.
    You can test this if you have a high frame rate camera.
    Reply
  • Jumangi - Thursday, February 18, 2016 - link

    Until Google puts real effort into making Android usable on large screen tablets and major apps get updated its going to stay a flawed experience. Reply
  • Kattz - Thursday, February 18, 2016 - link

    Why are we, as consumers, accepting this from device manufacturers? I just finished reading that the MS Surface Book & Pro are full of bugs. The Pixel C is an expensive device and the MS devices are even more expensive.

    There is a solution. If you buy an expensive device and it behaves like the Pixel C, return it. Don't wait for an update.Don't root your device and install some sort of software from XDA to solve the problem. If you spend this amount of money on a device, it had better work out of the box.

    The manufacturers have gotten used to being able to release devces with half-baked software and having people just buy it anyway because they want to be the first to get that new device. Why are we waiting until half-way through a device's short lifespan for it to work properly?

    Hit them where it hurts. If everyone who had bought this piece of junk had returned it immediately, I am sure that the problems would have been fixed by now. They might think twice about pulling this off the next time.
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Friday, February 19, 2016 - link

    So far every 'direct' google products are total flops. I don't remember any exceptions.

    I expect micro sd slot, side by side multitasking, easy file transfer, and good value for android products... and this has none.
    Reply
  • UtilityMax - Friday, February 19, 2016 - link

    I never really get the criticism directed at the android tablets, that they supposedly failed etc. They certainly do not fail at being a tablet. First, you need to realize that a tablet is a lousy productivity tool. The screen is too small. The keyboard is too flimsy and small. It will always be a very lousy laptop. The only way to make a tablet into a notebook replacement, is to start with a big screen, like Surface Pro 4 does, but then with such a big screen the Surface Pro 4 is really a lousy tablet, because try holding a 12 inch tablet with one hand, and it is also IMHO a lousy notebook, because you always have to fold and unfold the rear leg and the keyboard bends more than than of a $200 Chinese laptop from Best Buy.

    The real application for tablets is to goof around with the web and social networks, while you're on your living room sofa, in your bed, or in the kitchen. Larger tablets are also good at being your portable entertainment and TV screen on the go, when you're in a hotel or on an airplane. But trying to do productivity things on it? Please. Give me a normal laptop. A Lenova Yoga is a 1000 times better than Surface Pro or whatever tablets can be.
    Reply
  • nbpf - Sunday, February 28, 2016 - link

    UtilityMax wrote: The real application for tablets is to goof around with the web and social networks, while you're on your living room sofa, in your bed, or in the kitchen.

    That's what I have bought my Pixel C for. Unfortunately, streaming high resolution videos while sitting on my sofa does not work particularly well because of the poor wireless performance of the Pixel C. From the same spot, a 3-years old iPad mini achieves 2 to 3 times higher download transfer rates. The Pixel C screen is very bright but unpleasantly reflective. Thus, watching videos or reading newspapaper in slightly less than ideal conditions is no fun. The software keyboard customization is very poor in 6.0.1 and the waste of space, especially in landscape mode, is enormous. All in all, a very disappointing device. Returned after one week.
    Reply
  • shifuteejeh - Wednesday, March 2, 2016 - link

    I purchased my first Pixel C as soon as it was available, and was so excited that I opted for overnight shipping. I want to love the device and keyboard, but it suffered from a myriad of problems. The first one I received had an unresponsive touch screen (extremely). After contacting support, they performed an RMA for the tablet only. The 2nd device received constantly disconnected from the keyboard. Therefore another RMA. The third device had a loud "clicking" noise when touching the left hand side of the screen (more on this later). The fourth device not only constantly disconnected from the keyboard, but would power off randomly and frequently. At this point, since it had been over a month of problems, I could no longer return the keyboard; so I reluctantly accepted a 5th RMA. This one worked fine for a while, but then suffered from the same issues. The device that "clicked;" support had me upload videos to youtube so that they could see it; and then send it directly to Pixel C developers instead of standard RMA. They later replied that "clicking" is to be expected if moderate pressure is applied. I found this odd, considering that none of the other tablets did this. The click was also in conjunction with a noticeable feeling, similar to clicking a mouse or using a button on a keyboard. In dealing with Google support, I was informed by a specialist that devices that were "RMAed" were often replaced by refurbished devices, which may be why I received flawed items. I was outraged at this, because I purchased my product brand new. I didn't pay $800 for a "refurbished" device. A thread for individuals experiencing problems can be found here:
    https://productforums.google.com/forum/?utm_medium...
    Reply

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