The Google Pixel C: Google's First Android Tablet

Google's first Android tablet offers a productivity-centric keyboard accessory

Google Pixel C
Google Pixel C. Google

Detachable keyboards for tablets are hot these days. Today, Google announced a new device in its high-end Pixel lineup: the Pixel C. It's the first Android tablet built completely by the search giant and it's meant for both work and entertainment. ~ September 29, 2015  

Google hasn't released a ton of details yet on the Pixel C, other than photos and these two paragraphs from the announcement:

We’re expanding the Pixel family by introducing the first Android tablet built end-to-end by Google. The Pixel C brings together the benefits of a full-size keyboard with the portability of a tablet. The tablet and keyboard attach magnetically (no docking mechanism FTW), so it’s easy to switch between typing and using the touch screen.

And if you’re familiar with the Chromebook Pixel, you’ll immediately see the family resemblance: the Pixel C has the same beautiful aluminum design, great display and USB Type-C port. The Pixel C will be available in time for the holidays on the Google Store.

The Pixel C is a 10.2-inch tablet and starts at $499. It has an Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, 3GB of RAM, runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and comes with a USB-C port (no frustrations with plugging the USB cable in the wrong way!). 

With the full-size $149 keyboard accessory, the Pixel C could be compared to Apple's iPad Pro or Microsoft's Surface, both of which also have optional hardware keyboards that turn the tablets into pseudo laptops. The iPad Pro, however, has a larger 12.9-inch display and also starts at $799 (not including the keyboard accessory or the stylus Pencil). The Surface, meanwhile, runs a desktop operating system--Windows 10--rather than a mobile OS. And unlike the the iPad Pro or the Surface, there's no stylus option for the Pixel C.

The Pixel C's keyboard accessory is interesting, though, since it doesn't need a kickstand. The screen can be adjusted between 100 and 135 degrees, the Verge reports, and the tablet attaches to the keyboard magnetically--easy to snap on and off.

The keyboard itself is charged by the tablet so you don't need to separately charge it.

Of course, keyboards for tablets isn't a new thing. There are tons of universal tablet keyboards that can attach to any Android tablet (as well as third-party keyboards for the iPad). What's unique here is that the companies behind these tablets--Google, Apple, and Microsoft--are designing keyboard accessories for their tablets now, as if acknowledging that, yeah, people want to use their tablets for productive work and tapping alone isn't always the best option.

(Maybe there is something to 2-in-1 laptops after all.)

When you have keyboard accessories designed specifically for the device by the company that made that device, it could also feel like a more cohesive fit or a smoother experience. The materials all match. There's a shared design sensability.

Back to the Google Pixel C, though. The device looks like a premium product you'd expect from the Pixel line (which, you might remember, has a Chromebook starting at $999). There's the sleek aluminum design and a sharp-looking 2560 by 1800 pixel display (308 pixels per inch). It looks like the Chromebook Pixel, sans the keyboard.

All in all, the Pixel C looks like a solid Android tablet with a matching keyboard accessory for laptop-like work. As with the iPad Pro, whether or not you can use it to replace your laptop will depend on the kinds of apps you need to run.