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Opinion 99 Shares 13 comments

Why the Google Pixel C is the best new tablet that no one will buy

Rumor has it that the Pixel C, Google's non-Nexus 2015 tablet, is due for imminent release, and it's already causing a stir. Leaked benchmarks results suggest it's incredibly powerful, so buyers should be lining up for a chance to buy one of these tablet/laptop hybrids. But we all know this isn't going to happen. Here's why the best new tablet on Android won't really sell.

What is the Pixel C?

The Pixel C is a 10.2-inch tablet that docks into an optional magnetic keyboard, which charges wirelessly when the USB Type-C power cable is connected. The display, which has the same aspect ratio as a sheet of A4 paper, has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,800 pixels, resulting in an acceptable but far from super-crisp 307 ppi.

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The Pixel C magnetic keyboard dock is definitely cool. / © Google

Despite looking and sounding an awful lot like the Chromebook Pixel, the Pixel C runs Android Marshmallow, not Chrome OS. It's powered by the ridiculously good Nvidia Tegra X1 chipset, the world's first mobile teraflop processor.

The Tegra X1 is an octa-core, 64-bit configuration with 256 GPU cores using Nvidia's Maxwell architecture - but the Pixel C only has the four high-performance ARM A57 cores. The whole thing is backed up by 3 GB of RAM and should be capable of rivaling consoles in terms of graphics processing power. It should also be incredibly power efficient.

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The Tegra X1's graphical performance is far superior to any other tablet chipset. / © Nvidia

Why will nobody buy it?

Because this is Google. Aside from the complete lack of advertising, Google is in the business of building reference devices for developers to showcase the very best of its Android platform, not making lots of money from hardware.

The Pixel C isn't marketed as a Nexus, but in many ways it is one. But it's also a hybrid Chromebook. It combines the look of one device with the experience of the other.

It's odd that Google hasn't drop an extra gigabyte of RAM on a piece of hardware with this much computing power, to take it up to 4 GB and make it even more beast-like. But again, this is Google.

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The Chromebook has a definite target market, but who is the Pixel C for? / © Google

So who is the Pixel C for?

Good question. With a hefty price of US$499 for the 32 GB version and US$599 for the 64 GB version, along with the optional US$149 magnetic keyboard, this is no cheap tablet. It seems to be all about high-end productivity in a highly mobile environment, but it's not targeted at the iPad Pro demographic of designers and artists.

The Pixel C has pretty insane specs, but it's not aimed at the Nvidia Shield's gamer crowd. Nor is it directed at the regular Android tablet crowd. In fact, it isn't really being targeted at anyone. In typical Google fashion, it just is. Like the early Nexus devices, it will have its die-hard fans, but Google won't go out of its way to promote it to any particular market or type of user.

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Will we look back on this as a defining moment in Android tablets? / © Google

This will mean the Pixel C, with its relatively high price, half-Chromebook, half-Nexus DNA, and no obvious reason for being, will likely languish, unnoticed, in the dark recesses of the Play Store. Perhaps it will sell enough to justify making a Pixel C2, or it might simply exist to answer Google's questions about transformer tablets.

On the other hand, the Pixel C might just herald something more significant for the future of convertible Nexus tablets and Chromebooks. Only time will tell how we look back on this device in years to come – as a harbinger of change or a one-off oddity – but suffice to say, it's highly unlikely to be noticed in its own time.  

What are your thoughts on the Pixel C? What do you think Google is up to? Share your thoughts in the comments.

13 comments

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  • Eric B. 2 months ago Link to comment

    First, let me say, I ,actually, own and use a Pixel C. I'm not an Apple Fanboy. Tried it, and it let left me feeling terribly restricted and bored.

    The Pixel C is getting undeserved knocks by people who have only read about it, and not used it. Along with my gaming desktop, I have a top tier Lenovo Yoga 900. I love them all. For gaming, nothing beats the desktop. For intense Windows applications and business apps, the Lenovo is the go to. However, where do I spend most of my time?.......on the Pixel C. Just imagine Android with no lags. Operations such as upgrades and app installations are almost instantanious. Graphics are unbeatable. I watch countless Netflix movies, with earbuds, and the picture is glorious. Do I like the Pixel C? You bet!

  • I don't know about "no one will buy" but I can say for sure that I absolutely will not spend $500+ on a tablet without having touched and tried it first in a bricks-and-mortar store. Even if it means I have to pay a little more for it.

    So, sorry Google, this looks like a really cool tablet but if you expect me to buy one, you'd better open up some dealers in my area where I can go try one.

  • Sal A 11 months ago Link to comment

    It is lacking a SIMM card slot!
    You can not use it as a phone to receive and call out from.
    Will wait for the next release it ever to see if it would love one.

  • Дејан 11 months ago Link to comment

    Is this tablet even launched for sale anywhere in the world??

  • Well, I already bought it with the keyboard 3 hours ago.

  • Reference device. But I am pretty certain it was supposed to run ChromeOS or whatever Android / Chrome OS hybrid Google is planning (or may never release). I have a Chromebook flip and it is a fantastic piece of cheap technology. I do use it as a tablet sometimes, but Chrome OS isn't quite there yet in terms of touch or tablet functionality. Too many small buttons, and not enough converted Android Apps. Without the brilliant Chrome OS touchpad this device just wouldn't work as a Chromebook. And Chrome OS wasn't ready a touch based OS in time for this device.

  • "The display, which has the same aspect ratio as a sheet of A4 paper, has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,800 pixels, resulting in an acceptable but far from super-crisp 307 ppi."

    307 ppi is pretty damn crisp of a tablet this size.

  • barleyguy 11 months ago Link to comment

    I'm actually planning to buy one of these early next year. I want a Tegra X1 device, and the battery on my Asus TF300T recently went bad.

    The only reason I won't buy one of these is if NVidia comes out with a Shield X1 tablet and it's half the price. Which could actually happen.

  • I will have purchased the Pixel C instead of my Nexus 9 if it would have came out sooner. I would be happy to trade if anyone is interested... ;-)

  • I believe Google just gets bored (just look at Chromebooks, seems to have all but abandoned them). It does stuff like this to pass the time and to reduce its tax bill. Once in a while it strikes lucky and makes something people actually want to buy. Nothing wrong with this notion though , I'd do the same if I had Googles stash of cash.

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