Revisiting the Pixel C, Google’s innovative Android tablet that deserves a sequel

Revisiting the Pixel C, Google's innovative Android tablet that deserves a sequel

Revisiting the Pixel C, Google’s innovative Android tablet that deserves a sequel. The Pixel Tablet, Google’s first Android tablet in years, is soon to go on sale. However, Google released the Pixel C, an Android tablet that was much ahead of its time, back in 2015. Let us take a look back.

Revisiting the Pixel C

The Pixel C was released in 2015. The device was purportedly intended to be a ChromeOS machine, similar to the Chromebook Pixel at the time, but was ultimately repurposed as the company’s flagship Android tablet for $499, the same price as the Pixel Tablet, which will be released next week.

The Pixel C was a strong proposition on paper, at least at the time. The tablet had a 10.2-inch, 25601800 display and ran Android Marshmallow before being updated to Android Oreo. It was also powered by Nvidia’s Tegra X1 chip, which is still used in the Nintendo Switch today. Some components, such as the 32GB or 64GB of storage and only 3GB of RAM, feel antiquated in 2023.

The Pixel C is showing its age in use in 2023. Newer programmes, such as Google Photos, are notoriously slow, and updating extremely old Google apps from the Play Store has taken an age. At the same time, I’m a little impressed.

I was able to set up this tablet, which is running an older version of Android, and yet use Google Workspace apps, the latest version of the Play Store, and up-to-date apps in many cases. There were numerous issues, yet this tablet is still remarkably capable in 2023. Of course, that’s not a high bar, and Apple easily surpasses it. The company’s 2015 iPad Pros have just lost support for new iOS versions, whereas Google will most certainly continue to provide basic app support on the Pixel C’s Android Oreo for a few more years.

I’m also reminded of some of Google’s good concepts in this programme. Even though gestures certainly have some advantages, the split navigation buttons are excellent. And I much prefer the previous tablet multitasking screen to the one Google has built for Android 13.

The hardware, however, is what made me want to play with a Pixel C again. It remains the package’s most notable feature, and it’s crammed with ideas that are so far ahead of their time that they deserve more than the neglected position they’re now in.

That begins with the tablet itself, which is a work of art even by current standards. The display bezels are a little large, but the metal frame and back are as good as it gets, with a heaviness that I haven’t felt in years in a tablet. There are other subtle details, such as four microphones on the top for video conversations, which were introduced years before COVID. The amusing light strip on the back was also functional, displaying your battery level with a short knock. That’s something I’d like to see in a modern device!

But it’s the keyboard that truly needs to be brought back. Google’s innovative design here was designed as a separate piece of gear that used magnets to hook onto the front of the tablet, resulting in a slab of metal on all sides when the two were combined.

To get started, remove the keyboard and attach the bottom half of the tablet’s back to the black piece of the keyboard, with powerful magnets holding the Pixel C in place. A sturdy hinge would therefore allow you to position the display at practically any angle while maintaining perfect weight balance. Below it was a keyboard layout that was a little cramped, but incredibly easy to get used to, with key travel to make any modern laptop owner jealous.

The charging mechanism, though, was perhaps the most ingenious. The keyboard was Bluetooth-enabled, which meant there was a battery inside that needed to be charged in some way, yet there were no ports. To compensate, Google designed a wireless charger that sat behind the screen and charged the keyboard whenever it was docked. I still can’t believe this exists because it’s just the right amount of insane. With this convenient charging technique and the keyboard’s weeks of battery life, the Pixel C’s keyboard experience was significantly superior to that of other Bluetooth keyboards at the time.

To this day, no one has done a better keyboard accessory for a tablet, though there have been other advances throughout the years. The iPad Pro launched a wave of tablets from Apple and others that use pins to connect the keyboard, removing the need for a battery and simplifying connection complexity. Trackpads on the keyboard are becoming increasingly common on tablets today, something I admit I missed on the Pixel C.

Still, every time I look back to it, and now that I’m using the tablet, I can’t help but wish Google will bring these ideas back to life. Finally, it appears that the proper time has arrived. Android tablets are seeing a revival, with Google even introducing the home-focused Pixel Tablet. While I believe Google was correct to avoid a productivity focus with that device, a “Pixel Tablet Pro” that acts as a Pixel C reincarnate would be fantastic. These are all terrific concepts, and if the Pixel Tablet succeeds, bringing them all back would be fantastic.

Also Read: Google Pixel 4 Specifications Leaked

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