Talking Pixel Slate usage and productivity on This Week in Google: Is it a tablet or a laptop?

Now that consumers are getting their Pixel Slate devices, it’s interesting to hear from people who spent their own money on Google’s first Chrome OS tablet. Yes, I was loaned a Pixel Slate and Pixel Slate Keyboard for my review, but I also dropped $1,199 of my own cash on the Core i5 model and keyboard attachment.

So too did Jason Howell, a host on several of the TWiT.TV shows and he hosted the latest episode of This Week in Google where I was a guest. Jason saved $200 over my purchase by going with the Core m3 option, which I think will be the configuration “sweet spot” for most buyers.

Unlike many of the other Pixel Slate reviewers — with Jerry Hildebrand as an exception worth noting — Jason is a long-time user of Chrome OS who has embraced the platform as a primary one. Another guest on the show, Jeff Jarvis, is also a full-time Pixelbook owner; he loves the device and in my opinion, based on his use cases, the Pixel Slate isn’t the ideal replacement for his Pixelbook as you’ll hear in this episode.

Although we hit a number of Google-related topics, we spent a good amount of time discussing the Pixel Slate. Some interesting observations came from the episode, so if you want to tune in for them, the video is here, queued up to the time we first started the Slate discussion.

Perhaps most interesting to me how Jason was trying to be productive in tablet mode with the Pixel Slate.

I previously used an iPad Pro 12.9 for about 18 months as my full-time device. Yes, it was my laptop and my tablet, just like the Pixel Slate is for me today; I already sold and shipped my Pixelbook, so I’m all in on the Pixel Slate.

Jason is now finding out what I learned during my time with the iPad Pro: For the majority of people to be effectively productive with the Pixel — or any other tablet, for that matter — I think you really need some type of hardware keyboard. Even if it’s a Bluetooth keyboard with your tablet on a stand, you’ll be able to use Google Docs, Evernote,, etc… much more quickly with a keyboard.

Sure, if you’re just tapping out a relatively short email or adding a task to you to-list, you can certainly use a tablet and its software keyboard. But for large amounts of text-based content creation? You’ll want a keyboard as I suggested to Jason with a bit of cheekiness, saying “You’re using it wrong.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

That led to an additional discussion on how the Pixel Slate is positioned. Is it a tablet first and desktop second?

If so, how did that affect the perception of reviewers (which I strongly believe it did, and not in a good way) and how will it influence consumer’s purchase decisions? I definitely look at the Pixel Slate a bit differently, but rather than spoil it here, watch the video for how I framed it, which heavily influenced my own purchase decision as you’ll see. Maybe this will help you decide if the Pixel Slate is for you as a result.

9 thoughts on “Talking Pixel Slate usage and productivity on This Week in Google: Is it a tablet or a laptop?

  • December 6, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    I think most people still don’t understand what a Chrome OS based device can or should do. I also found it interesting when Jason mentioned that on the show. I do hope Google cleans it up quickly and with Chrome OS’s brisk release schedule I’m confident they will.

    I’ve been on the fence for years on switching to a chromebook full time. But now with Crostini I’m confident I can do it. I was thinking Slate but I may prefer the Pixelbook. Don’t know yet, I have some time to figure it out.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the show, always enjoy when you’re on it Kevin. Chrome OS needs an ambassador. Cheers

    • December 6, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Dominick, and good luck with your device choice!

  • December 6, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    I’ve got a 2015 CB Pixel and that thing changed everything for me… Especially when my work moved iver to Google and I used it full time there too. I can’t imagine going back now.

    When the Pixel book came out last year I honestly thought it was the device for me, but I couldn’t quite justify the upgrade then…

    Fast forward 12 months and Google nailed it. My perfect device. i5 pre-ordered and hopes sky high. Then came the reviews….

    I can’t lie. I’m gutted that every YouTuber and Tech blog I read has pretty much slammed it. Even Robbie at Chrome Unboxed… (No surprise from The Verge, little from Android Police. I don’t know why that don’t just stick to iOS or Windows).

    But the negativity did affect my judgement at first. Until I found Kevin! Praise the Lord! He gets it! And fortunately for me, he has restored my faith.

    I’ve got the pen and keyboard, but can’t use those until Christmas… So have it connected to a keyboard at work (multi connector that I use with my work machine), so I can be productive there with it, and use it for tablet (or leanback mode – I like that!). And so far, I’ve really enjoyed it.

    No, it’s not all perfect. But the imperfections ate those same issues on all other CB’s, and we know them and accept them (or work around them) day to day. But all in all, I think the Slate is going to work for me.

    I’ll be following this site and Kevin going forwards, to learn more from his experiences, whilst paying a little less attention to some of the other aformentioned opinions.

    • December 6, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      Welcome to the “I get it!” club, Jamie! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • December 6, 2018 at 6:03 pm

        I’d like to point out that I typed my post on my phone… It’s not the Slate’s fault for that many typos!!!

  • December 6, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Pixel Slate isn’t “positioned” as one or the other. Chrome OS is a pretty solid desktop OS. So Pixel Slate is just as good at being a desktop device as Chrome OS enables it to be. Android is a bolt on and, though some apps play better with tablets than others, probably no Android apps are optimized for Chrome OS. Over time, the tablet experience of the Pixel Slate needs to improve and will continue to improve. Otherwise, it will rapidly go by the wayside as people opt for iPad Pro and Surface Pro.

  • December 6, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    I actually want the Slate for the same reason you mentioned on TWIG, Kevin. I know you’ve seen my harping on this, but I just ultimately thing Google is asking too much of its users for the Android side of ChromeOS. This is clearly a selling point they have, and it’s not ready for even a $600 device (because the $600 device isn’t useful IMO w/o that keyboard as well…).
    And it’s not a “you’re using it wrong” thing. It just is flat out buggy (heck, I even find ChromeOS to be a bit laggy/buggy on my Pixelbook these days…. specifically the notification shade).

  • December 6, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    My Main pc broke I’m doing all my college assignments on a family members Chromebook. It works just fine for me. ๐Ÿ™‚


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