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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.

Finally, I find myself wishing the Pixel C had the versatility present in Dell's setup: The hinge on that device allows you to attach the base so that it extends out behind the tablet and creates a stand -- something I've found to be one of the most compelling benefits of the convertible form. The Pixel C's panel-based connection system provides no such possibility.

On the plus side, the Pixel C's keyboard pairs quickly and automatically as soon as it's attached (via Bluetooth, but you'd never even know it). And keeping it charged is hassle-free as can be: All you do is attach the keyboard magnetically to the tablet in the "closed" position, with the tablet's screen facing downward against the keys, whenever you aren't using the device. The keyboard then pulls a minimal amount of power from the tablet so that it never runs low.

Bottom line

When we talk about whether the Pixel C is worth buying, we really have to talk about it as two separate products. As a high-end Android tablet, the Pixel C has what's easily the best overall user experience you'll find on such a device today. From the premium materials and striking design to the outstanding display and top-notch software -- not to mention the timely ongoing OS and security upgrades -- no other option even comes close.

At $499 for 32GB or $599 for 64GB, it isn't cheap -- but it also isn't that unreasonable compared to other tablets in its class. And you really are getting an awful lot of bang for your buck, provided a top-of-the-line tablet is what you're after.

When you factor in the $149 keyboard, things get a little more complicated. Between its inherent hardware and software limitations, the Pixel C just isn't ideal for intensive or extended productivity use. But while the Pixel C might not be a suitable full-fledged laptop replacement for most people, its value as a convertible device is really all relative to your own personal needs and budget.

If what you want is an awesome tablet that's also pretty good for limited lightweight input -- a "tablet-plus," so to speak, that makes it easier to respond to a lengthy email or pound out the occasional quick document without having to power up your computer -- the Pixel C with its keyboard might be just the product for you. I could see it serving as a handy supplementary device for a lot of folks in that regard. But $648 to $748 is a lot to pay for a device of that nature.

In general, I'd say this: If you're looking for a first-class full-sized Android tablet, get the Pixel C. You won't be disappointed.

 

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