Josh's Thoughts

While I haven’t been deeply involved in the review of the Pixel C, I also happened to receive the Pixel C tablet for evaluation. My initial impressions of the device were relatively positive as the keyboard docking mechanism is relatively smart and novel, although not perfect. The use of a magnetic flap which rotates with a high amount of tension to keep the tablet upright is a very smart way to avoid including a kickstand, but it definitely takes a bit of time to get used to the actions required to separate the tablet and keyboard, flip the tablet to the right orientation, and connect it. The design and construction of the device are also quite competitive with the best tablets on the market.

Unfortunately, pretty much any praise I have for the Pixel C ends once you look past its physical aspects. As soon as I attempted to do some initial setup using the keyboard accessory, the experience completely fell apart due to contention by other communication on the 2.4GHz frequency space. A casual scan of the networks in the area shows a pretty significant number of SSIDs from neighboring apartments, and while it isn’t quite at the level of a convention center, I had a significant number of connectivity issues that still haven’t gone away after multiple days. This manifests as either the keyboard not registering at all despite showing up as connected, repeated key strokes, or significant input latency on the order of multiple seconds.

In addition to these issues, the Pixel C tablet also seems to be have some significant touch screen latency and registration issues. It felt like I needed to use multiple taps to get anything to register, and even when it registers there can be a shocking amount of latency before anything happens. This really shouldn’t be happening on anything remotely high-end in 2016, so this alone makes me reluctant to even consider recommending it to anyone.

Even when one puts these concerning issues aside, there's no way to ignore how the software really holds back this tablet. In terms of usability, this is arguably somehow below the iPad Air 2 in practicality, as pretty much every app is just a larger version of the phone application without much in the way of proper utilization of the larger display size. There’s also no multi-window functionality, which is shocking when you consider how Samsung, LG, and numerous other OEMs have implemented some form of this functionality for years at this point. Even Apple’s iOS, which started out with basically no ability to adapt to varying aspect ratios, display sizes, and pixel densities, has decent multi-window functionality working at this point. It’s deeply concerning that Google has taken so long to implement functionality that clearly has demand given how many OEMs have implemented it in their Android skins, especially given that Android was designed from the ground up to support multiple device resolutions and sizes.

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.

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  • ImSpartacus - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    How disappointing. I hope the iPad can some day see some actual competition from something other than an x86 tablet.
  • vFunct - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Not going to happen. The Google ecosystem is focused on ignorant third-world consumers that think more cores are somehow better than faster individual cores. It's a problem of Google's making, where they have the mistaken belief that targeting the poorer class will somehow make their products superior against those that target the upper-class, like Apple.

    Apple will reign supreme as long as everybody else has no clue how to market to the upper class.
  • ImSpartacus - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Yeah, Asia's obsession with core count is quite curious.

    It's particularly depressing that non-apple arm tablets don't take off because it really kneecaps any incentives for anyone to make high performance SoCs with tablet-tier thermal budgets. They have to adapt phone SoCs for that purpose because the tablet market isn't big enough to justify its own SoCs (unless you're Nvidia and you can't make anything smaller). So it means that stuff like the a9x can just sweep the floor and it's only challenged by x86 stuff because that's the only other source of legitimate high performance tablets.
  • Murloc - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    In Spain apple has a 9% marketshare.
    Maybe they're ignorant third-worlders, or maybe it isn't as simple as you say.
  • Sttm - Monday, January 25, 2016 - link

    Spain has almost 50% youth unemployment. As such its not hard to see why their tech preferences favor cheaper hardware originally destined for the 3rd world.

    But then again if Spain does not start to turn around its employment situation, it will be the 3rd world before too long.
  • WinterCharm - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    Exactly. You have to look at purchasing power of a nation. Apple markets to the young and wealthy upper class.

    There's a reason Apple only has 5-6% of the market share. But 90% of profits, and 90% market share in the $1000+ computer category is because they refuse to pander to the lower segments of the market.

    If you want the best and you can afford it, you buy Apple gear.
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - link

    If you want the best, can afford it, and are tech savvy, you get a Surface Pro or similar top-tier device.

    In the case of the Pixel C, even a "lowly" non-Pro Surface 3 is a better value. Mostly due to the superior Cherry Trail SoC.
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - link

    Oh, except in 3D graphics. Intel still sucks there on their lower power chips. So I guess if you're buying one to play high-graphics games that would be stupid. But for other tasks Cherry Trail is great, I set one up with a dock for someone that uses it as their tablet and "desktop" PC and general purpose performance, multitasking etc is pretty decent. Even has HEVC hardware decoding support. The NAND is even reasonably fast, has enough RAM and they have the 128GB model plus a USB SSD attached to their dock so storage isn't an issue (has SD slot for easy mobile storage expansion too).
  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - link

    I think he's speaking more broadly about laptops and the whole nine yards.
  • Lolimaster - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - link

    Problem is youre not paying for the best, just bragging rights while getting scammed and locked in their ecosystem, the perfect fool.

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