Google is expanding its Pixel line of premium hardware devices to include its first Android tablet. So while there’s no new Nexus tablet to go with the new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P smartphones, Google is launching a new Android tablet.
It’s called the Google Pixel C, and it should be available in time for the 2015 holiday season for $499 and up. You’ll almost certainly want to spend an extra $149 to get the optional keyboard though, because the Pixel C is very clearly designed to work with a keyboard. The C stands for “convertible.”
While $650 is kind of pricey for an Android tablet and keyboard, it’s the cheapest Pixel device to date… and it’s unlike any other tablet on the market.
There are a bunch of things that make Google’s new 10.2 inch tablet special. It has a high-resolution 2560 x 1800 pixel display, for one thing. It features a USB Type-C charging port, for another. And it has a Pixel LED light bar on the back, which you can tap to quickly see battery life at-a-glance without unlocking the tablet.
But the keyboard is really what makes the Pixel C stand out.
The tablet and keyboard are held together with powerful magnets, and there are no hinges at all. Place the keyboard on top of the screen when the tablet isn’t in use, and it will protect the display. Slide it of and position it at the back of the keyboard and it will stand up without the aid of a kickstand or hinge.
You can adjust the angle up to 135 degrees, and the magnets are strong enough to let you hold the system upside down from the keyboard without worrying that the tablet will fall off.
Google says despite the small screen size, the keyboard features nearly full-sized keys, because the company took 5 of the least frequently used keys from the side of the keyboard and put them in an on-screen menu. Since your hands will always be close to the tablet when you’re typing, this gives you more room for touch typing, while making it still relatively easy to hit those infrequently used soft-keys when you need to.
The keyboard uses Bluetooth to connect to the tablet, and Google says the keyboard has a small battery that should last for up to 2 months of usage… but that you essentially never have to charge the battery. That’s because it will automatically charge inductively when placed on top of the tablet. That means that as long as you use the keyboard to cover the tablet for at least few minutes each day, the keyboard battery will never run out of juice.
Google’s Pixel C has stereo speakers, four microphones for picking up your voice from across the room, and it runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow software. Google will roll out software updates for the tablet every 6 weeks.
The tablet powered by an NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor, features 3GB of RAM, and will be available with 32GB of storage for $499 or 64GB of storage for $599.
If you’re wondering why this is a “Pixel” device rather than a “Nexus,” it’s because the Pixel C was designed in-house by Google to show the company’s ideal vision of a high-quality product. Think it’s too expensive? Google probably doesn’t care: the company didn’t expect to sell a lot of Chromebook Pixel laptops when the company launched them. Basically Google built a laptop its employees wanted to use and then made it available to the public. The Pixel C is sort of the tablet version of that idea.
Nexus devices, on the other hand, are built in partnership with companies that make Android phones and tablets. They’re developed alongside the latest version of Google’s Android operating system to showcase new features such as the fingerprint authentication software that now lets you unlock an Android device or authorize mobile payments with Android Pay.