With the Google Pixel Tablet, I’m Ready to Leave My iPad Behind

With the Google Pixel Tablet, I’m Ready to Leave My iPad Behind

I have waited a long time for a device like the Google Pixel Tablet, and as luck would have it, it just so happens to be from the manufacturer of my current favourite smartphone.

Google’s tablet is a departure from the rest of the tablet market. While Apple still dominates the international tablet market with its terrific range of iPads, available across a wide range of price and performance points, keep in mind that these tablets are largely all-purpose. They can be a laptop replacement, with attachable keyboards, mice integration, smart pens and cellular support, or they can be for casual in-home use.

The Google Pixel Tablet goes all-in on the home aspect of a tablet, as a device with very few direct comparisons. While the Pixel Tablet is an Android tablet in the same way that tablets from Samsung, Oppo and TCL are, most of its DNA comes from the Google range of smart home devices – in particular, the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max. This is because of the charging speaker dock that comes with the tablet – it slots magnetically against the tablet and makes it ideal for stationary, ‘hub’ use.

By splicing the smart home range with the tablet concept, Google has created a device that appeals particularly to people like me.


I’m already in love with the @Google @Google Pixel Tablet. #asmr #unboxing #techtok #google #googlepixel #android #tablet

♬ original sound – Gizmodo AU

I’m right at home

Let me describe to you my tablet situation. For the past several months, I have used a 10th-gen iPad as my smart home device. With it sitting upright on my desk, beside my computer, I can simply say ‘Hey Siri’ to turn my lights off or on, get a quick calculation, or control my media playback (usually through Spotify with its terrific cross-device integration, but also because I watch a lot of Twitch).

google pixel tablet
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

This is brilliant, and because the iPad is a tablet, it can be moved around much more easily than any smart home device (like the HomePod, or Google Nest). Siri is also my preferred smart device assistant, and the HomeKit app Apple has on its devices has always been my preference over Google’s Home app.

The problem with using the iPad as a home device is that… It’s not a home device. It’s an iPad. this means that charging can be awkward and that sound quality isn’t as good as with smart home speakers. There’s also no official smart home dock. While these aren’t terrible things, they do mean that the base-level iPad isn’t as smart home-oriented as you might want it to be.

google pixel tablet
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

So… Hello Google Pixel Tablet. By streamlining the device for smart home use, the Pixel Tablet is now, arguably, the best device you can have for controlling lights or for controlling your linked-up devices. The charging speaker dock sits firmly on the surface it’s placed on, with the magnetic charging port firmly holding the display in place, but not so much that it’s difficult to remove the tablet. This being said, pressing too hard on the power button (located on the camera side of the device) will cause the tablet to fall from its dock.

It’s also designed with a landscape orientation primarily – something iPads haven’t been doing for long (the main-line iPad only started doing this last year). This means that the camera is placed on the long side of the device instead of the short side, and that the tablet sits in the dock longways – ideal for streaming and large-screen apps, and perfect for video calls.

In ‘hub’ mode, when the device is locked and connected to the smart speaker, you can also have live (or static) wallpapers. This was pretty cute – as you can see in the first image of this article, I chose an adorable little frog. This is an animated wallpaper, and what the frog is doing, and what the animation is, changes depending on the weather and the time of day.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Oh, and just so we’ve cleared the bases: here are the specs.

  • Processor: Google G2 Tensor chip
  • Storage: 128GB or 256GB (both with 8GB RAM)
  • Display: 10.9-inch LCD screen
  • Cameras: 8MP main, 8MP selfie
  • Fingerprint reader: on the power button
  • Battery: 27Wh
  • Colours: Porcelain (white) and Hazel (grey).

But it’s not for everyone

With such a strong focus on being a smart home product, the Google Pixel Tablet is not without its disadvantages.

Firstly, Google hasn’t released this tablet with many accessories – just a single case with a small stand (sold separately) and the charging speaker dock (which comes in the box). There’s no official keyboard or pen, though the tablet does have smart pen support. Sure, you can use the Pixel Tablet on the go, outside of the house, but you’ll be doing this without a cellular-enabled model (which means you’ll need to rely on a Wi-Fi connection or hotspot for internet), and you’ll be doing it without an official keyboard.

Then, and this is a pet peeve of mine, Google Assistant is still not as great as Siri. I have found that the smart home integration is slower, and that the Google Assistant is more talkative than it needs to be.

Additionally, you shouldn’t be buying a tablet at all if the cameras are a major concern. the Pixel Tablet’s cameras are good quality, but they’re obviously not as good as a premium smartphone’s cameras.

google pixel tablet
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia
google pixel tablet
A little selfie. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

The Google Pixel Tablet is for a very specific user

The deciding factor of buying the Google Pixel Tablet should be: do I need a smart home device? This is what the Pixel Tablet is built for, and it absolutely knocks it out of the park.

If you’re after a tablet as an art device, or as a replacement for a laptop, it’s probably not going to satisfy you – at least until Google brings out official accessories for these purposes.

The Google Pixel Tablet starts at $899 for the 128GB model, and goes up to $999 for the 256GB model.

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