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Considering the Pixel Slate? Answer these two questions before you buy

There are other factors but these are where to start

Let’s be honest: At their core, every Chromebook essentially does the same thing. They all provide a simple, speedy and secure way to use the web. Some older Chromebooks and any new ones that arrived in 2017 through the present also run Android apps. And roughly 20 different models currently support Linux apps thanks to Project Crostini. So right there, you have some choices to make on what apps and features you’d like.

When it comes to the Pixel Slate, the real key is how badly do you want or need a tablet. If you don’t, then I’m not sure it’s the device for you.

Perhaps you’re wowed by that 3000 x 2000 display — I was — and it’s a must-have. OK, you’re back in the Pixel Slate camp then. Otherwise, you just don’t need a slate because that’s essentially the main draw here and you’ll be paying a premium for it.

And while the top-end Pixel Slate is likely to be one of the best performing Chrome OS devices this year, you’ll pay a hefty premium to get that Core i7, 16GB of memory and 256GB of storage.

Unless you’re a heavy-duty developer with a big budget and you either want a tablet or don’t mind using a separate keyboard, or if you simply want the highest possible performance from a portable Chrome OS device, $1,599 is a lot to spend when you can get a great Chromebook experience for roughly one-third to one-half of the cost.

Again the HP Chromebook X2 fits the bill here as do many other devices in the $500 to $700 range: The Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 arrives this weekend for $599 with a newer Core i3 and 128GB of storage; it should run well enough for most people, even with its 4GB of memory.

Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14

Are there other factors in the decision making process for a new Chromebook purchase? Sure: Battery life, touch vs non-touch displays or screen resolution, weight, size and more or all part of the decision, as is cost.

But if you’re wondering if the Pixel Slate is for you, my advice is to focus on the need for a true tablet — based on how and where you’ll use the device — as well as performance. All things being equal, these two factors are key before even considering your other preferences and requirements.

author avatar
Kevin C. Tofel

9 thoughts on “Considering the Pixel Slate? Answer these two questions before you buy

  1. A “Footnote Question”

    Do I need to consider upgrading my older Pixel C Android tablet? And is the Slate a choice?

    Most used apps for me are: Chrome/Internet Browsing; Gmail (reading more than replying); various apps: weather, Spotify, Kindle and MoonReader, various news apps.

  2. I think that you “need a true tablet” in either one or both of two situations: [1] You already heavily use a tablet/Surface device; [2] you often find yourself wishing that 2-in-1 convertible devices were less heavy, bulky, or awkward for many of the tasks that you perform. I also noted the author’s assertion that a 3000 x 2000 display is a “must have” feature. On small screens like the Pixel Slate’s 12.3-inch screen, everything that’s not an Android phone app will get very small when scaled down from a typical desktop. So high resolution makes comfortable reading feasible. I believe that’s a major factor in why this resolution was added to the HP X2 lineup and why the Surface Book uses it.

  3. Thank you for this review. I was all gung-ho on the Slate but your article reminded me that I’m not dealing with Android here, this is for the Chrome OS, so updates are not a concern. I’m going with HP to get the tablet experience for less.

  4. I’m questioning whether I should just get a Pixelbook on the “cheap” or get a cheaper Pixel Slate model as a secondary device. I want to give them a chance as my main dev machine, so I would be compelled to the i5 model either way.

  5. Great article! I have coveted a Chrome OS tablet for a long time now. But as a Pixelbook owner I can’t justify a Pixel Slate, as it is too similar. Now a 10.5 inch Pixel Slate Mini would fit perfect in my workflow. Something that can take notes in meetings, run Android productivity apps, media consumption, light enough to hold and read and yet powerful enough to run Linux. I think Nexus 7, 9 and Pixel C users are still waiting for a replacement device…

  6. If you are interested in ChromeOS with Linux app support, i7,16 GB of RAM and a big SSD, this new CTL device is has those specs for only $700: https://ctl.net/collections/chromebox-1/products/ctl-chromebox-cbx1-core-i7-version

    That’s so much less expensive then the Pixel Slate i7, that you can combine it with an 8 GB Pixel Slate and still save money.

    Also, if you expect to be carrying around the Pixel Slate with a keyboard a lot of the time of the time and are concerned about the weight, No Pixel Slate + keyboard option weighs less than the 2.4 lb Pixelbook. Right now you can get an i7/16GB Pixelbook on eBay for under $1,300. It’s also got a touch screen and a 360 degree hinge.

    I think it’s unlikely the “Pixelbook 2” will ship this year, but early Q1 feels possible. That’s something to also consider waiting for you. Expect newer processors, higher resolution screen, smaller bezels and a fingerprint reader. I wouldn’t expect the battery life to be much better. The battery-saving properties of the Molecular display are offset by it’s higher resolution with more pixels to drive.

  7. I think you are spot on with your two initial questions, and not coincidentally mirrors my own experience. I was looking for a replacement/alternative to my Android tablet. It still works well, but I was dissatisfied with the software support, particularly security updates. Yet I wanted a tablet with a decent keyboard to use when needed. I knew I wanted better than a Celeron chip. I waited and watched for over a year. Finally I picked up the HP Chromebook X2. For my purposes its M3 provides snappy performance and excellent battery life. I find that I use the device as a tablet about 60% of the time, and use the keyboard as a stand maybe another 25% of the time. I use it much more as a laptop than I ever used my old laptop!

  8. For me RAM is probably as or more important than a faster processor within reason. But I can’t get the slowest processor with more RAM so…
    Also the fingerprint sensor is a big deal to me.
    One last thing to consider against machines already out a year or so is the slightly longer support period you’ll get with a new-to-market device. My understanding is that support period is calculated not from when the product leaves the retail market or when you buy your particular example but rather when the product enters the retail market. So buying a Slate this winter as opposed to a good deal on the Chromebook Pixel that came out a year or so ago will leave you with a longer support window going forward.
    All little things I think about. Because I might pay $1000 for a tablet but I ain’t doin’ it very often.

  9. There is no one-size-fit-all but there is supposed to be one for me. I always want to have a Tablet that can be converted into a laptop. Now what I mean by laptop or desktop is that normally tablet definition is to have less powerful hardware and locked down OS; but this Pixel Slate resolves this type of problem from day 0. Desktop OS, mobile apps support, Linux support, and Windows dual boot coming, but on a tablet and when I attach keyboard and mouse, it works right out of the box. When I use tablet, I can use full desktop browser with mobile apps. It actually resolves all frustrations that we have with iPad Pro! Furthermore, Pixel Slate has full file system, no iTunes transfer kind of BS, and so many things work out of the box just like Mac. I currently own a Pixelbook i5/8GB, but I find that the only problem with Pixel Slate is that it is NOT using fast enough hardware, because it needs to be fanless I get it. But for my use, I need quad core + 16GB RAM because I constantly have 30 tabs opened with 6 Linux apps running in background including handbrake transcoding videos and playing 1080p video at the same time. I wish they have faster hardware but I guess with fanless design, it hits a hardware limit at this century. I am going to sell my Pixelbook and buy a Pixel Slate.

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