Pixel Slate review – Can Google tablet really be a rival to Apple's iPad Pro?

Pixel Slate review – Can Google tablet really be a rival to Apple's iPad Pro?

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Google Pixel Slate review (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

GOOGLE PIXEL SLATE REVIEW • From £569

  • FOR • Good screen • Long battery life • Two USB-C ports
  • AGAINST • Dated design • Keyboard case could be improved • Some performance issues • Can get very expensive

The iPad is still the king of the tablets but Google is attempting to steal Apple’s crown with the launch of the Pixel Slate.

This all-new Google tablet has just gone on sale and offers an excellent 12.3-inch LCD screen, 12-hour battery life and access to Google’s popular Chrome OS operating system.

Like the new iPad Pro, Google has also created a clever case which instantly turns this tablet into a mini PC and there’s even a digital stylus, like the Apple Pencil, to help users scribble on the screen.

So can this new device from Google really take on and beat the hugely popular iPad?

Express.co.uk has been putting the Pixel Slate to the test and here’s our full verdict.

Google Pixel Slate review

Google’s Pixel Slate features a great LCD display which is a joy to use (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

DESIGN AND DISPLAY

There’s nothing really to loathe or love about the look and feel of the Pixel Slate.

Google has created a well-built but slightly bland device that we’ve found really hard to get excited about.

With chunky bezels surrounding the 12.3-inch LCD screen, the Slate looks a little old-fashioned especially when you place it against the almost edge-to-edge appearance of the new iPad Pro.

We’re a little baffled why Google hasn’t managed to push the screen closer to sides of their flagship tablet and the only excuse may come in the form of the two stereo speakers which are positioned on either side of the screen.

Another thing you may notice about the design is how heavy the Slate feels in your hand and we’ve found its letterbox shape can make it uncomfortable to hold for long periods.

Place both the iPad and Slate on the scales and you’ll find Google’s tablet is carrying an extra 100g in weight which is definitely noticeable.

Google Pixel Slate review

The Slate is quite heavy and its shape is a little uncomfortable to hold for long periods (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Although we’ve not been blown away by the design, thankfully, there is a flash of flair on the aluminium case with Google offering its tablet in subtle Slate Blue colour.

There’s only this one style to choose from but it looks good and certainly adds a glimmer of excitement to what is otherwise a pretty boring device.

Despite the design lacking much punch, the Molecular screen does look great.

The viewing experience is superb with content appearing crisp, bright and clear with colours also popping from the screen making it easily as good as its rivals.

Google has done a good job with this 12.3-inch, 3000 x 2000 resolution LCD display and it’s a real pleasure to watch.

Google Pixel Slate review

The Pixel Slate can be transformed into a laptop via its keyboard case (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

SPEED AND BATTERY

The Slate can be configured with numerous processors and storage options.

Prices for the cheapest Intel Celeron model start at £549 but this tablet can end up costing over £1,500 for the full monty Intel Core i7 option.

For our tests, we took delivery of the Core i5 Slate which carries a cost of £969.

At that expense, you’d expect some serious performance.

Sadly, we had some very mixed results with the Slate whizzing through some tasks but then stuttering when simply surfing the web.

This performance issue is highlighted when you place the Slate against the iPad Pro.

Apple’s device is powered by the new A12X Bionic processor and offers a faultless experience with everything you ask of it achieved with a silky smooth performance.

The same simply can’t be said for the Slate with the overall experience leaving us less than impressed.

Although speed may not be its strongest feature battery life is certainly a lot better with the Slate lasting around 12 hours on a single charge.

This is easily enough to get you through a long-haul flight and still have some energy left in the tank to tell everyone you’ve landed safely.

Google also includes a fast charger in the box which can add around two hours of usage in just 20 minutes. 

Google Pixel Slate review

Google Pixel Slate review (Image: GOOGLE)

ACCESSORIES

A nice bonus of the Slate is the ability to instantly transform this tablet into a laptop via its keyboard case.

This cover slots neatly to the device and, despite the strange circular keys, offers a decent typing experience.

Unlike Apple’s iPad Pro, you even get a backlit keyboard and laptop-style trackpad which helps navigate around the screen.

Another feature we really like is the way the case magnetically connects to the rear of the Slate.

This unique feature allows you to tilt the screen to almost any position and is as close as you’ll get to a hinge on a laptop.

These are all big positives but again there is an issue with this case.

Google Pixel Slate review

Google Pixel Slate review (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Google Pixel Slate review

The Google Pixel Slate is fully compatible with the digital stylus (Image: GOOGLE)

There may be magnets all over the rear but Google appears to have forgotten to include this simple technology around the screen.

This means when you fully close the case it doesn’t attach properly to display meaning you get a horrible experience as moves and twists in your hand.

The case is also a little flimsy which isn’t a problem when sat at your desk but it certainly doesn’t help when trying to use it on the morning commute.

It’s also worth noting that the keyboard case doesn’t come as standard with even the most expensive models of the Slate and if you want this accessory you’ll need to splash out another £189 for the privilege.

Along with this keyboard accessory, there’s also a digital pen which allows you to scribble on the screen with this stylus even magically turning your handwritten scrawls into editable text.

If you’re desperate for a digital pen then Google’s effort is decent enough although it is irritating that there’s nowhere to store it.

Google Pixel Slate review

The case covers the entire tablet but its bad design means it slips in your hand (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

EXTRAS

Google has included some very nice little extras on the Slate including two USB-C ports so you charge and connect external devices at the same time.

This isn’t something you’ll find on the iPad Pro with Apple only offering a single USB-C socket.

It’s a smart move from Google and one Apple should definitely follow with its next update.

The Slate also features a very accurate fingerprint sensor on the top of the device which unlocks the tablet at super fast speeds.

And there’s some very loud dual firing speakers for a surround sound experience when you fancy a quick Netflix binge.

CHROME OS

The Pixel Slate runs on Google’s popular Chrome OS which brings some positives and negatives.

With Chrome OS installed you get access to a swathe of online software such as Google Docs, Google Photos, Google Drive, Chrome and Gmail.

With resizable windows and the option to have numerous applications running at once the overall experience of this operating system is good with the Slate feeling very much like a fully functional laptop.

However, there’s also the Google App Store at your fingertips which features millions of games, applications and streaming software such as Netflix.

This should mean this tablet offers the ultimate entertainment experience but in reality, many of these apps simply don’t convert well on a tablet.

With most optimised for smartphones, they are magnified on the Slate and end up looking bloated and awkward to use.

Google is still clearly working out the best way to offer its App Store on a tablet but, right now, it’s a long way from being perfect.

Google Pixel Slate review

Google Pixel Slate review (Image: GOOGLE)

PRICE

You can pick up a basic Chrome Book laptop for under £200 but the starting price for the Pixel Slate is £549 and that doesn’t include that £189 keyboard.

If you want the top end model it will cost in excess of £1,500 and that just feels too much for this device.

We don’t have an issue with high prices for tablets but with machines, including Google’s own Pixelbook, costing less it seems hard to justify this very high cost.

VERDICT

There’s no question that Google has made a decent tablet with the Slate and it even has some features you won’t find on an iPad.

However, the dated design, high price and overall usability simply can’t match the might of the new iPad Pro.

If it was massively cheaper than the latest Apple gadget we could forgive some of its faults but with some Slate models costing over £1,500 the iPad still rules the tablet kingdom.

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