Google today announced a new addition to the Pixel family of devices — Pixel C. Here C stands for convertible and it’s powered by Android and not Chrome OS. Don’t get too excited and think it’s a new class of device where Android has been optimized for the ‘desktop’ or a merger of Chrome OS and Android. It’s nothing more than a new Android tablet with a dedicated keyboard. Period.
I really don’t know what Google is trying to achieve here other than throwing out a device to compete with Surface Pro and iPad Pro. And there are already convertible Android tablets in the market — the ASUS Transformer being one of the most popular ones.
What do you get?
Pixel C showcases a 10.2-inch screen with 2560 x 1800 (308 ppi) resolution. It has an Nvidia X1 SoC and 3GB of RAM. Pixel C is priced saner than Chromebook Pixels – you can get a 32GB model for ~ $500 and 64GB model for ~ $600. The keyboard is sold separately for ~$150.
Similar to the latest Chromebook Pixel, it is using USB Type C for charging and data transfer. To improve voice input Google is cramming 4 microphones in the device. While stock Android always lacked a split screen feature, which allows one to work on multiple apps at the same time, the upcoming version of Android will bring split screen.
Will I be getting it?
I am typically an early buyer and get Google devices as soon as they are out, but I may skip Pixel C because I really don’t see any value beyond being an Android tablet with a dedicated keyboard. As a writer who spends a lot of time pounding out words, I haven’t seen any decent text editors on Android. Google’s own Google Docs lacks many important features — hyperlinking is still a painful task when working on Google Docs on mobile devices. And I tend to keep all my documents ‘offline’ in a standard format such as .txt so I can save them on my own server and access them from any app.
If I have to choose between a Chrome OS powered laptop and an Android powered laptop I will pick a Chromebook. There are dozens of great quality text editors on Chromebooks and you can get full fledged Google Docs through a browser.
Other news from today’s event:
Nexus: The improvements to the Nexus series of phones look good on paper, but I have been using Nexus since the early days and things like the camera have been their weaknesses – both on the hardware and software side.
It’s nice that they announced a Nexus Protection program to cover Nexus hardware as I have a $700 Nexus 6 device sitting on my table with a tiny crack on the screen and I have to pay $200 to get a replacement device — which brings my total cost to $900.
Chromecast: The update to Chromecast was neither revolutionary or evolutionary. Personally, I have unplugged all three Chromecasts that I have and threw them in a drawer. They have been replaced by Android-powered Amazon Fire TV Stick. The reason: Chromecasts have started to go rogue and don’t respond to your phone at all. Every single time I played a YouTube video, it lost control over it and I couldn’t stop it.
Second, the lack of a dedicated remote makes it extremely hard to control audio — you have to pull out the phone, open the app and then decrease the volume. Things become more complicated if you have to take a phone call during a playback or if you have to walk out — then the show is on its own.
As far as Chromecast Audio is concerned I am not much interested in it as I buy only Bluetooth or wireless enabled speakers that also allow me to stream music from ‘any’ bluetooth enabled device. I have music collected over 20 years and Google doesn’t support offline playback via its Google Music to Chromecast so you have to be on the cloud. And for privacy reasons, I am not a huge fan of putting ‘everything’ in the public cloud.
In general I am a huge fan of Android and Chrome OS and I buy new devices perhaps more frequently than my wife would like, but for the first time I am not excited about the new Google hardware.