Google Pixel C review: Now with Google Assistant
Google Pixel C review: The tablet
In all, the Pixel C is a triumph of design. Quite apart from the usability of the keyboard and the flexibility of the hinge design, its metal-clad, cool-to-the-touch chassis is as classy as it gets. And, as with the Pixel team’s fabulous Chromebooks, it has the famous segmented LED light bar on the rear.
This serves two purposes. When you’re using the tablet, it lights up in Google’s trademark rainbow colours, identifying the Pixel C clearly as a Pixel product. When it’s in standby, the bar indicates battery status. Simply double-tap the back of the tablet and it gradually fills up, turning different colours for different levels of charge. This might not sound particularly special, but take it from me, it’s little touches like these that lift the Pixel C above the average.
And without the bar, there’s little to distinguish Google’s flagship tablet from its rivals. It’s roughly the same shape and size as an iPad Air 2 – the 10.2in display has an aspect ratio of 3:2, is finished in smart-but-familiar matte, sparkly silver, and the design is studiously minimalist. You won’t find multiple ports and sockets scattered around the edges of this device, just a single USB Type-C port, used for charging and attaching peripherals, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a volume rocker and power button.
That’s your lot, apart from four tiny pinpricks situated on the top edge of the tablet (these betray the presence of an array of four microphones, for the best possible audio quality during video calls), and a pair of speaker grilles set into the right and left edges. The latter deliver clear audio at a decent level of volume, but the sound is slightly thinner and noticeably less warm and rounded than that delivered by the iPad Air 2.
Google Pixel C review: Display quality
The quality of the Pixel C’s screen, however, is beyond reproach. Google has chosen to employ an IPS panel here, just like Apple has done with its iPads, and it’s as close to flawless as I’ve seen. Brightness peaks at a usable-outdoors 450cd/m², the contrast level of 1,550:1 ensures images and graphics leap from the screen, and colour accuracy is very good, with the panel covering an impressive 97.3% coverage of the sRGB colour spectrum.
If this is mumbo jumbo to your eyes, just know this: the Pixel C has a more accomplished display than the iPad Air 2, it isn’t far behind the brilliant iPad Pro’s, and it beats both tablets for maximum brightness. It isn’t quite as colourful or punchy as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2’s AMOLED display, but, once again, it does go brighter than that screen. In no uncertain terms, it’s a fantastic screen.
Slightly less important is the resolution. Like the iPads, there’s Retina-class resolution at play here, which means for all practical purposes, you’re never going to be able to see the pixels unless you use a magnifying glass. For those interested in pointless numbers – and I mean pointless – the Pixel C’s absolute resolution is slightly higher than that of the iPad Air 2. It has a pixel density of 307ppi, whereas the iPad Air 2’s display has a pixel density of 264ppi. Practically speaking, though, it’s impossible to tell the difference in sharpness between the two.
Google Pixel C specifications
|Processor||Nvidia Tegra X1|
|Screen resolution||2,560 x 1,800|
|Storage (free)||32GB or 64GB|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||No|
|Dimensions||242 x 7 x 179mm (WDH) without keyboard; 242 x 14 x 179mm with keyboard (closed)|
|Weight||520g without keyboard; 924g (with keyboard)|
|Operating system||Android 6 Marshmallow|