Google Pixel m3 Slate is a maddening device to review. It’s the latest in a line of premium, expensive Chrome OS devices from Google — but the first that’s a tablet, meant to compete with the iPad Pro and Surface Pro. Based purely on its hardware, the Pixel Slate should be up to the task: It has powerful specs (an Intel i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage), an OLED screen that looks fantastic, and a nearly bezel-less design with four speakers tuned by AKG to provide excellent sound quality for watching a video or listening to music.
The Google Pixel Slate m3 has a sleek magnesium body with a glossy, high-end finish. The bezels are trimmed with aluminum and there’s an 8MP camera on its rear side that faces towards you when using it in laptop mode. The specs are top-notch: you can get it with either an Intel Core m3-7Y30 processor or Intel Core i5-7Y54 chip; it has up to 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of SSD storage space. It also has two USB-C ports, a fingerprint scanner, a 2MP front camera, an NFC chip, and dual stereo speakers with four mics for far-field voice control. https://www.example.com/?HUsBg0-59edc9
When you’re using a Chrome OS device like Google’s Pixel Slate m3, apps that run Android apps need to be downloaded from a separate Google Play Store tab, and they won’t show up in your app drawer until you download them. Most users will find most of what they want here (we didn’t encounter any app compatibility issues on our review unit). And if you prefer to browse for more Chrome-specific software, there’s an additional Chrome Web Store tab for that. For those wondering about support for iOS apps, don’t bother: The Pixel Slate doesn’t support iOS software at all.
Google Pen & Keyboard
Both come standard with every Google Pixel Slate m3, and they’re both pretty great. There’s a reason that Apple has kept its Smart Keyboard around for so long, and it has to do with text input. The on-screen keyboard is fine (and better than ever in Android Pie), but there’s no replacement for a hardware keyboard when it comes to typing speed and accuracy. That’s doubly true when it comes to touch-typing — I found that I could type up to 80 words per minute on my old MacBook Air, a feat impossible with any virtual keyboard in handheld form.
The Google Pixel Slate m3 has a 12.3-inch LCD display, available in two sizes: a regular version with 3,000×2,000 pixels (293 PPI) and a high-resolution taller version with 3,180×1,800 pixels (260 PPI). In our review unit’s case, that latter configuration gave us less than 1 millimeter of extra room between its chin and its keyboard; Google says you can request a taller model when buying if you know in advance that you’ll need it.
Design & Build Quality
Google hasn’t changed much in terms of hardware design since it introduced its first Pixel laptop last year. The new model is nearly identical to last year’s, only with smaller bezels and a nicer display. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: we thought Google’s designs were top-notch when they first debuted, and they hold up today. The new 12.3-inch 3000 x 2000 (293 PPI) touchscreen is particularly impressive, thanks to its tiny side bezels that make it feel as spacious as a 13-inch display despite actually being smaller than most 13-inch laptops on the market today.
The Google Pixel Slate m3 has a 12.3-inch display with a resolution of 3000 x 2000 pixels. The refresh rate is 60Hz, and it supports a wide color gamut and dynamic range (P3). It has very good viewing angles, as well. Since there’s no notch to cut into your app usage, every inch of screen real estate is available to you at all times. Just like on desktop Chrome, windows and tabs are tiled to maximize space usage even further; you can easily drag windows around your screen by their tabs or split them up horizontally or vertically if they get too large.
Performance (Speed, Multitasking, etc.)
A $600 tablet with an Intel Core m3 processor is more expensive than many Windows laptops, and yet it’s not even as fast. According to a CNET speed test, Google’s Chrome OS device is around 20 percent lower than other flagship 2-in-1s with low-power Y series processors. On top of that, Chrome OS still doesn’t have full multitasking capabilities like Windows or macOS. The result? Most of your 2-in-1 power sits unused because you can’t run multiple programs at once. Even when I’m just typing in Word while I’m watching Netflix in another window, there are times when both programs stop responding until I switch away from one to focus on the other.
Chrome OS is meant to be used in tandem with cloud services and Google’s ecosystem, which means it’s not a surprise that battery life on a device like Google’s Pixel Slate m3 isn’t as strong as something like an iPad Pro or even Chromebook competitors. At 8 hours of mixed-use, and 5 hours of video playback, battery life is on par with other premium tablets. Still, if you’re using it for heavier workloads — working in Office files or presentations for example — you can expect anywhere from 4-5 hours of battery. That’s not terrible by any means, but heavier users will want to bring their charger along just in case.
More Read Batteries Plus
Google has always put its money into software, where it’s excelled in recent years. The Pixel line of phones takes great photos, with Google’s best phone cameras on any device ever. The Pixels are so good because they do a lot of computational photography, which means they fuse multiple images together to get a better final image. Now that trick is coming to tablets for photography: Google says it uses all four cameras at once, so you’ll be able to create bokeh blur after taking your photo. We have no idea how well it will work out in real life — but we like that Google is trying something new.