Google is back in the tablet game with the Pixel Tablet, making a strong argument that it’s the kind of device you want to keep within reach. While it’s not Google’s first kick at the can in making a tablet, this one feels fresh and versatile.

Part of that has to do with the included dock, which makes the device more convenient in a number of ways. Anyone making an Android tablet these days knows that you have to add an incentive, usually by adding a peripheral or two to make it more interesting and competitive. Curiously, Google chose not to include a pen or keyboard, but the more I used this thing, the more I understood why.

Design and setup

Tablets aren’t all that spectacular on the surface, generally speaking. The Pixel Tablet looks fine—well constructed with a ceramic-style finish, lightweight and with suitable brightness for varying situations. Not to mention responsive and straightforward.

The power button doubles as a fingerprint sensor for a quicker way to get past the lock screen. Google designed the Pixel Tablet to be accessible when the 11-inch screen is locked, which explains why it resembles a Nest Hub when planted onto the dock. It’s interesting because it puts the device in a functional position, either parked as a canvas or interface to look at, or mobile as an interactive way to get things done.

It takes little to set it up, but there are a few points to note. First, there’s no headphone jack, so you’ll want Bluetooth headphones or earbuds to listen to audio in private. There are stereo speakers on both sides, though the dock takes over once you’ve placed it on there. Metal charging pins align with magnets to also charge the device wirelessly. Anytime you want to just take the tablet off, grab it and go.

Acting as a smart display

The dock can play an active role when you need it to. As an example, you can cast content from it to other compatible devices, like a Chromecast connected to a TV, for instance, but you can also cast to the Pixel Tablet as well. That means it also works as part of the Nest ecosystem in the Google Home app where you can add it and play music simultaneously, making this a connected speaker in its own right. You can’t cast to the dock on its own though—you need to place the tablet on it for it to appear as a casting selection.

That’s all on top of the fact it works like a Nest Hub when you talk to it. Set up Google Assistant and the Pixel Tablet listens for all of your commands, basically turning the tablet (when docked) into a smart home hub of sorts.

Most tablets sit idly by laying flat on a table or couch, but Google wants the Pixel Tablet to do something even when it’s not really doing anything. That’s why the screen can turn into one giant clock or a shared screensaver that tells you pertinent info about the weather, while also pulling images from your Google Photos to turn it into something like a digital photo frame. If you’re familiar with the Nest Hub, this will look and feel a lot alike.

Performance and experience with the Pixel Tablet

Google’s own Tensor G2 chipset—the same one in the Pixel 7 series phones—powers the Pixel Tablet’s overall performance, and while it’s nothing groundbreaking, it’s still pretty effective. I didn’t just use the tablet to watch shows or movies, I wanted to try various use cases. That included reading books and comic books, editing photos and playing games via Xbox Game Pass.

Editor’s note: to learn how this tablet helps integrate with and control your smart home devices, read Andy’s detailed article on the Best Buy Blog.

You could do all of those things with any Android tablet, but the dock changes the convenience in doing so. Propping up the tablet made many tasks feel that way for me, especially when watching a show or playing a game. I would’ve liked if Google threw in a pen for the benefit of editing photos or drawing, but third-party ones should work fine with the Pixel Tablet.

It also proved to be a pretty good multitasker with split-screen letting me use two apps at once. The most widely known apps are optimized for the tablet, though many Android apps simply stretch out from their phone versions, so it’s won’t always appear seamless. Mutitasking also takes on a different form in that the tablet supports multiple user accounts. If you want to share it with one of your kids, for instance, you can set up the Kids Space app to maintain a separate experience appropriate for your kid. The lack of headphone jack complicates things, unless you get wireless headphones for them.

Bear in mind the Pixel Tablet either comes in 128GB or 256GB storage sizes with no memory card slot, so sharing also means dipping into the same storage. And I would expect partners or kids wanting to share this. The 11-inch display is beautiful, only making all this easier to appreciate and work with.

The Pixel Tablet for video calls

The rear camera is nothing to write home about, whereas the front camera is far more useful for video calls. Like the iPad’s Center Stage, it has a similar feature called Continuous Framing that automatically pans to keep you centred in the frame during video chats. Again, with the dock in tow, it’s easy to do these calls hands-free, though it’s much easier to do so on a table rather than sitting the dock on your lap.

While I tend to do video calls on my laptop, I could see the benefits with the Pixel Tablet, especially if I was talking with someone beside me. The 84-degree field of view is reasonably wide enough for group chats, so if you plan on using this device to talk to others on video, you won’t have a problem here.

Final thoughts on the Google Pixel Tablet

The Pixel Tablet is one of the best ways for Google to prove Android works in tablet form. Other options from Samsung and Lenovo work well in their own right, except this is stock Android on a larger screen. There’s nothing revolutionary going on with this device, yet its simplicity feels refreshing. It has an 11-inch screen without a big footprint, even if you throw in the dock, and if you choose to travel or commute with it, you can take the dock or leave it.

I expect Google will continue to update the device to add or improve features, possibly broadening what it can do. It’s also possible Google doesn’t make a tablet to succeed this one, leaving the Pixel Tablet to roll on its own for a longer while. Time will tell.

The Google Pixel Tablet is available in either 128GB or 256GB in porcelain or hazel.

Ted Kritsonis
Editor Cellular/Mobile Technology
I’m a fortunate man in being able to do the fun job of following and reporting on one of the most exciting industries in the world today. In my time covering consumer tech, I’ve written for a number of publications, including the Globe and Mail, Yahoo! Canada, CBC.ca, Canoe, Digital Trends, MobileSyrup, G4 Tech, PC World, Faze and AppStorm. I’ve also appeared on TV as a tech expert for Global, CTV and the Shopping Channel.

511 COMMENTS

  1. I like that the pixel tablet can be an alarm clock in my bedroom. Music hub and that I can use it in the kitchen and read recipes and have my music on to. The larger size will make reading easier. The properly angled hub and auto framing. Not sure I like the power button lock feature it limits other family members using it for games and music if I am not home . But other than that it looks great. Nice sleek design.

  2. here are a couple things that I learned about this tablet that makes it right for me, including the video call capability, the built-in chromecast that lets me stream my movies and videos and that it can be used as a digital frame .

  3. I learned that the tablet supports multiple users accounts, so we can have one tablet for both of us.
    I really think that the the feature that makes this tablet the one is the ability to multitask with a split screen to run two apps at the same time.

  4. I learned that it has Continuous Framing that keeps you centered in the frame during video chats.
    I am constantly reminded by people that they can’t see me when we chat.

  5. I learned that the tablet supports multiple user accounts, would be perfect for my multitasking with a split-screen so I could use two apps at once.

  6. I learned that the power button doubles as a fingerprint sensor and that there are stereo speakers on both sides of the tablet. Also, it has metal charging pins that align with magnets that enables you to charge it wirelessly. I would enjoy owning this tablet and because it has Chromecast it would enable me to stream my movies. I would also be able to video call my family and friends.

  7. I learned that is has video call capability and the Continuous Framing that automatically pans to keep you centred in the frame during video chats.

  8. I learned that “It works like a Nest Hub when you talk to it. Set up Google Assistant and the Pixel Tablet listens for all of your commands, basically turning the tablet (when docked) into a smart home hub of sorts.” I would use it in the kitchen for recipes.

  9. There are a couple things that I learned about this tablet that makes it right for me, including the video call capability, the built-in chromecast that lets me stream my movies and videos and that it can be used as a digital frame for my 1000’s of pictures.

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