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Pixel C deep-dive review: A terrific tablet that tries to be more

JR Raphael | Dec. 9, 2015
Google's new device sets a new bar for high-end Android tablets -- but as a convertible, it's a bit of a mixed bag.

01 google pixel c
Credit: Google

Remember back when we had clearly defined device categories with bold lines between them? Smartphones were for voice calls and on-the-go communication, tablets were for more extended touchscreen use and laptops were for serious mobile productivity. Ah, simpler times.

These days, the lines have blurred -- and there's really very little separating one type of device from the next. Smartphones are increasingly enormous and all-purpose, while laptops are doubling as tablets and tablets are trying to act like laptops. Any one of them can make calls, given the right data connection. The most meaningful distinction among mobile products at this point may simply be their platform -- and even the implications connected to that are in a constant state of flux.

Enter Google's new Pixel C, a convertible tablet that doubles as a laptop (and yes, can make and receive calls with a Wi-Fi connection). The Pixel C is kind of like a sister product to the Chromebook Pixel -- only rather than running the browser-centric Chrome OS, as its sibling does, the Pixel C runs pure Google Android software. And where the Chromebook Pixel feels like a laptop that happens to have a touchscreen, the Pixel C feels like a touch-centric tablet first -- with an optional keyboard that connects to it.

You can buy the Pixel C starting today for $499 with 32GB of storage or $599 with 64GB. The physical keyboard attachment is sold separately and costs an additional $149.

I've been using the Pixel C and its keyboard for both work and play over the past several days. Let's get into it, shall we?

Getting to know the Pixel C as a tablet

One thing's for sure: Picking up the Pixel C immediately brings the Chromebook Pixel to mind. The two devices share a lot of DNA -- which is no surprise, given that the Pixel brand indicates a product that was designed and made entirely by Google (unlike Nexus products, which are typically joint efforts between Google and a rotating cast of third-party manufacturers).

The family connection is most apparent in the realms of style and design. Like the Chromebook Pixel, the Pixel C is beautifully crafted and made to look as premium as can be, with an elegant silver aluminum exterior and a distinctive multicolored light bar that illuminates during use. In a neat twist, the light bar also doubles as an interactive battery indicator: Whenever the system is idle, you can tap it twice to have it show you how much power is remaining.

02 pixel c lightbar 
The PIxel C has an elegant silver aluminum exterior and a distinctive multicolored light bar that illuminates during use.
Credit: Google

 

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