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Google’s first tablet in years is now available, and it’s… a different kind of tablet from the Nexus devices the company had released in the past.

After going up for pre-order in May for $499 and up, the Pixel Tablet is now shipping to customers and the first reviews are in. For the most part they’re reasonably positive… but they also largely focus on what makes Google’s tablet different from most others: it’s not just a tablet, but also a smart display.

The Pixel Tablet features a 10.95 inch, 2560 x 1600 pixel display, a Google Tensor G2 processor, 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. It runs the latest version of Android, which has been optimized for better multitasking and Google has updated many of its apps to play better with tablet-sized screens.

But instead of bundling the tablet with a keyboard, case, or stylus, Google ships the tablet with a Charging Speaker Dock that basically transforms the Pixel Tablet into a Nest Hub-like device when docked.

You can buy a third-party keyboard (the tablet should work with most Bluetooth keyboards) or stylus (it supports USI 2.0 pens). But Google doesn’t offer any first-party versions of those accessories, suggesting that the company isn’t marketing the Pixel Tablet as a productivity device. And I guess that makes sense, since the company has always insisted that’s what ChromeOS is for, not Android.

The tablet should be able to handle most basic tasks when used as a standalone device. It has enough memory, storage, and processing power for most Android apps. There are 8MP front and rear cameras for snapping photos or making video calls. And the side-mounted fingerprint sensor should let you quickly unlock the tablet.

But place it in the dock and the tablet adopts a Nest Hub-like user interface that lets you view a clock, photos, weather forecasts, or other data at a glance. It can also tap into the 43.5mm speaker to play music or respond to voice questions and commands delivered via Google Assistant.

The tablet is held in place magnetically when docked, and it charges at up to 15 watts via the pogo pin connection between the dock and tablet. You can also charge the Pixel Tablet with a USB-C charger, but Google doesn’t include a charger or USB cable in the box, so you’ll need to supply your own.

When docked you can also use the tablet for video calls: there’s a green indicator light next to the front camera that lets you know when it’s active, and the front camera supports portrait mode and auto-framing when used with Google Meet. The tablet has 3 microphones and four speakers.

Other features include a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2, and an Ultra-Wideband chip (that’s not currently used, but which Google says may be activated in the future).

The Pixel Tablet supports Chromecast functions, allowing you to send content to the tablet from other devices… but only when it’s docked. You can’t use it as a target in tablet mode.

Prices start at $499 for a Pixel Tablet with 128GB of storage, but you can also pay $599 for a 256GB model if you need the extra space – Google’s tablet does not have a microSD card. The tablet is available in three color options: porcelain, hazel, and rose.

Or if you’re trying to decide whether to pull the trigger, you can check out some of the first reviews:

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  1. I really don’t like the idea of the dock. It probably doesn’t cost that much, but it should be optional. I’d never use it, but may have to in order to charge it????

    Also, information on security updates would be useful. I’d assume 5 years? If so, really should be longer to compete with ChromeOS devices.

    1. You can just see the spot for the USB port on one side.
      Personally, I think the dock is really not the actual feature, the feature is the software that could be ported to every other android tablet or rebuilt for laptops and desktops as something that shows up on the lock screen. It’s proprietary of course so it’s not like anyone can just port it, except google, whose decision not to port it to android in general or chromeOS obviously artificial exclusivity.
      Which in this case is still fine by me. The longer I don’t have a social obligation to use voice commands mostly processed by a data-mining company the better.

    1. They need to sell that 256GB SKU somehow. Considering the low prices of NAND flash nowadays putting another $100 for an additional 128GB of storage is probably a very nice deal for Google. Why ruining it with an SD card slot?

  2. So is it a personal device that I should set up all my personal accounts on? Or is it a household/family device that’s going to be accessible to everyone? What a strange compromise.

    1. Perhaps it targets just people living alone, it’s a demographic group that has been on the rise for a while and there’s all reason to suppose that it will keep raising, who needs a wife or, Gods help me, children anyway?

      1. I’m pretty sure any kind of “smart speaker” or “smart display” or device that can act like one is aimed at multiple person households or at those who host (small) parties a lot. People who live alone don’t need to worry too much about minimizing the steps towards getting answers to things or playing music so they can retrieve the information at the exact right moment in the conversation.