Google’s Pixel Tablet is just that — a tablet. It’s not designed to replace your laptop and doesn’t come with any compatible accessories like a stylus or keyboard, but it’s a good straightforward starter tablet priced at $499.
The Pixel Tablet is the brand’s return to tablets and effectively replaces the Pixel Slate — Google’s last tablet and laptop iteration.
I spent three weeks trying the Pixel tablet in my home and below are my thoughts.
The Pixel tablet has an 11-inch screen and only weighs 493 grams. I can carry it daily in my tote bag without feeling its weight. It’s also lightweight enough to hold while video chatting. I tried the Rose colorway, which is a dusty light pink, but the tablet is also available in Porcelain and Haze. It also comes in two sizes, 128GB and 256 GB.
The tablet itself is very intuitive and easy to use: It has Google’s Tensor G2 chip — the same chip on the latest Pixel phones — so my experience with it was fast and lag-free. I used it to take notes, read e-books, and game in my free time. Throughout that time, I never had an app freeze on me. Despite years of tech reporting, I’ve never used a Google tablet before. I worried that it would be difficult to adapt to, but didn’t find that to be the case: Everything was easily navigatable with swipe controls and even the home screen widgets were customizable. There are a couple of apps that are not yet optimized for the Pixel tablet but if you’re just looking for basic games, streaming apps and Google apps, you shouldn’t hit any roadblocks.
With the Tensor G2 chip, certain Google-specific features are also available, most notably Magic Eraser for photos, which lets you omit people and things from the background. I find myself drawn to this feature since it lets me edit images without the hassle of using Adobe Photoshop. There’s also dictation or voice-typing, which I’ve used to text or take notes during meetings. This is one of my favorite features as there’s no compatible keyboard that works with the Pixel Tablet (yet).
The tablet comes with an 8MP front-facing camera and rear camera. The camera works as expected and will give you decent enough pictures. There’s also night vision and photo unblur , alond with the Magic Eraser. I wasn’t the biggest fan of night vision on the tablet (my photos looked very blurry) but for a tablet camera, it’s as expected. Video calling worked well, and I found the video on both ends to be smooth and clear. All in all, the camera will work when you’re in a pinch but if you’re looking to shoot professional-looking photos, you’re better off using your Pixel 7 Pro phone.
What we like
Sound and speaker dock:
The tablet’s best feature, apart from its user interface, is its accompanying charging speaker dock. The dock essentially turns this tablet into a smart display and can be used to listen to music or stream video hands-free. The tablet magnetically attaches to the dock and once it fits, you won’t have to worry about your tablet moving or falling down. I experimented with this by keeping the dock right at the edge of my nightshade and placing the tablet over it overnight to see if there was any chance the tablet would slip off and fall — it didn’t.
Audio carries over easily from the tablet to the dock — there’s no lag — and the speaker is quite decent in producing big sound. I also have a Nest Audio in my home and that’s been my go-to for music even with the Pixel Tablet around, primarily because I think it delivers better, rounder surround sound (the Nest Audio is a far bigger speaker). That said, the dock also produces loud, balanced sound, albeit with slightly lesser bass than the Nest Audio.
The dock also consistently keeps the tablet charged (even though the battery life lasted me a full eight hours, and the tablet still had some juice left) and essentially functions like a smart display. You can use ‘Hey Google’ to issue voice commands — I called my tablet from across my studio apartment and it still picked up my voice. I use it to display my Google photos when it’s not in use or even use some of Google’s interactive screen savers which add a little color to my otherwise pale room.
I also use it to play videos or listen to audiobooks when docked, but you can use it for much more, even tracking sports games or connecting it to your Google Nest Doorbell for a live video feed of your front door — just say ‘Hey Google’ and issue whatever command you want.
The design itself is pretty straightforward: the thin, rounded bezels are a classic Google design and a clean fingerprint sensor helps you log in. The dock is color matched to the back of the tablet and since the whole setup has such a compact form, it works well for small spaces.
The screen itself is also very clear and I had no qualms using it for all my streaming and gaming needs. It has a 2,560x1,600 pixel resolution, which is better than the full HD resolution that most laptops and tablets have. It’s also pretty bright, I could use it at night time with my lights off or during the day when it was bright outside with ease.
Is it worth it?
All in all, Google really succeeded with the Pixel tablet and delivered a quality product that almost checks all the boxes. It’s sleek, intuitive and a valuable addition to my Google ecosystem. It’s also surprisingly affordable compared to other tablets on the market, which makes this a great pick for those looking to add Google smart home devices to their space. Hopefully, we’ll soon have a keyboard and stylus option to give it the 2-in-1 functionality it deserves, especially for those of us who would like to add it to our work-from-home setup.
Other affordable tablets to consider
Google is obviously not the only big tech brand to release tablets, here are two more that I like and recommend, especially if you’re looking for something with a similar price point.
Apple’s 10th gen iPad is available in several colors and two sizes (64GB and 256GB). It has a 10.9-inch screen and is compatible with the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard Folio for 2-in-1 tablet-to-laptop functionality. iPad OS makes it easy to run apps simultaneously and the A14 bionic chip allows this tablet to edit 4K video or play graphics-intensive games with limited lag, according to Apple. Other features include stereo speakers, two 12MP cameras and a sleek, slim design, weighing just 477 grams.
The Fire Max 11 has an 11-inch display and either 64 or 128GB of storage. It has an 8MP front camera for video calls and functions with Alexa, so you can give your tablet voice commands like asking about the weather or operating your smart home. It can work for streaming, gaming or reading, according to the brand. And, you can pair it with the Amazon Stylus Pen and Keyboard Case for a more ideal work setup.
Why Trust Select
Nishka Dhawan is the associate commerce editor at NBC Select. She has covered tech and the tablet space for over three years and for this article, she spent three weeks with the Pixel tablet before reporting her thoughts.