back to article Pixel C: Google has a crack at the fondleslab-with-keyboard game

First Microsoft mated a tablet with a keyboard, then Apple came late to the party. Now Google has done the same. From an engineering perspective, Google's new Pixel C slab looks to have left them both in the dust. The central problem with trying to use a tablet with a detachable keyboard is the difficulty in using the devices …

Anonymous Coward

An alternative

Toshiba Click Mini. 9" Atom tablet with a proper keyboard dock. £200 or less at the moment. You can even try it for real in John Lewis if you want to see how small the keyboard really is.

Disclaimer. Am a happy owner. It's the cross between a netbook and a tablet I always wanted. Not tried to Linuxify yet though.

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Lenovo S6000 (a few years old now) had it's keyboard attachment held on by magnets. Even post S6000 tablets had, I believe, the same trick. It's also useful because it acts as a screen cover, held on naturally, by magnets.

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Bronze badge

Lenovo Yoga Tab

Does not need keyboard to keep it upright and has way better battery life for half of the price tag. Comes with Android or Windows.

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Microsoft? First? Allow me to point at my old TF101 and scream bullshit.

(this is of course ignoring the old, old "laptop that bends over to pretend to be a tablet but is really just a laptop" concept that MS pushed in the early naughties)

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Anonymous Coward

Have we forgotten the Asus Transformer?

That was one of the first I saw that was a tablet with a dockable keyboard. The keyboard provided extra ports and batteries to power the tablet.

As a concept, it was brilliant. I haven't actually tried using one long-term although I've helped my boss out setting up his for connecting to the office network on occasion, and it didn't seem too bad to use.

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Re: Have we forgotten the Asus Transformer?

The extra batteries in the keyboard dock made the TF101 a real winner. Too bad that it only had Honeycomb. I was even able to use it for engineering tasks, care of a Bluetooth-based RS-232 dongle and the Juicy SSH client. Sadly, my TF101 bit the dust three years ago and every version since has made the dock nothing more than a keyboard and trackpad.

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bep

Re: Have we forgotten the Asus Transformer?

Actually there were several iterations of the Transformer after that that also had a battery in the keyboard. Unfortunately Asus changed the connector design and apparently stuffed it up, My Transformer finally died a little while ago and the likely replacements all had pretty bad reps for reliability. Asus now seem to have abandoned the format for Android devices. Pity really, I certainly think it's the best option if done properly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have we forgotten the Asus Transformer?

Unfortunately Asus changed the connector design and apparently stuffed it up

Bummer, I've been eyeing off the Transformer for some time, but you've hammered the last nail into the coffin now. The one I saw was maybe the second revision? (The one that wasn't deaf to satellites.)

One of my colleagues pointed out how flimsy they were, which gel with what I had seen, but by the sounds of things he might have been talking about the more modern incarnations. Guess the Asus line-up can stay on the shelf then and I'll resurrect my old netbook.

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Re: Have we forgotten the Asus Transformer?

I'm pretty sure Asus has forgotten the Asus Transformer!

I have a Transformer Trio, now running Windows 10 on the base, stuck at Android 4.2.2. Asus have a habit of abandoning products that are not particularly old. It's a shame because I love the hardware!

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Silver badge

Re: Have we forgotten the Asus Transformer?

It's a bit of a pain to use the keyboard for any non-trivial typing, the key layout is awkward and you're forever finding the cursor jumping around.

That plus it being too underpowered for Google docs meant mine just gathered dust after the first few weeks.

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Re: Have we forgotten the Asus Transformer?

It was a bit too late for me to get a Transformer, so I got a Memopad which links up to the keyboard with Bluetooth. Not as elegant a solution Transformer but I can use it on my lap and best of all, I never have to remove the tablet from the keyboard folio - I can just fold the keyboard on the back and use it as extra armor. It makes it heavier and the leather (or fake leather whatever) is wearing out horribly after about 2 years, but is still comfortable to hold and protects the thing from falls.

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Re: Have we forgotten the Asus Transformer?

The TF101 was GREAT until Ice Cream Vista hit it. Then it became an unusable pile of junk that randomly crashed, locked up and otherwise didn't work. I never heard ANY concrete reason why although it was strongly inferred to be caused by the NVidia chipset.

The TF700 was awesome...for a while. Then it starts to get slower. And slower. And slower. No amount of resetting, rooting and putting on new ROMs will ever fix it. The last I heard is that the SDRAM, which was already criminally slow, actually deteriorates in these things until you really can't use them anymore.

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Silver badge

Re: Have we forgotten the Asus Transformer?

The extra batteries in the keyboard dock made the TF101 a real winner. Too bad that it only had Honeycomb.

The newer models are up to KitKat.

Sadly, my TF101 bit the dust three years ago and every version since has made the dock nothing more than a keyboard and trackpad.

It's true that the latest models don't have the second battery in the keyboard, but my TF701T (which has a lovely 2560x1600 display, and runs KitKat) still has one.

The only thing I'd change is to put a cover over the microSD slot; as it is the card sticks out slightly and it's all too easy to knock it and have it eject (a 32GB card ejected itself in my rucksack, once, and was snapped in two by the weight of the tablet when I put it down).

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Wish it had a stylus :(

I'm eager to buy my first tablet, but would rather not pay Apple's Idiot Tax with the iPad Pro.

Hmmm... Surface Pro 4 maybe?

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Happy

@Hasham: Re: Wish it had a stylus :(

Hasham,

May I suggest you checkout a Samsung NotePro? 12" screen, a PROPER stylus.

Fits our needs perfectly, maybe your reqs too?

Regards,

Jay

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Silver badge

Re: Wish it had a stylus :(

I suspect I'll replace my Macbook Air with a Surface Pro. All I really miss when I go from MacOS X to Windows is Terminal and BBedit. Everything else I can get on Windows or Linux,

Any suggestions for a Win-10 compatible replacements for those two are gratefully accepted...

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Re: Wish it had a stylus :(

Depends on your needs actually. If you need to run desktop apps then surface pro is the way to go. If desktop apps aren't required there are plenty of cheaper android tablets in the market.

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Pricey keyboard

The keyboard costs only a little less than a (low-end or 2nd hand) Chromebook, so if you need to do some typing you may as well get one of those. The "C" is cheaper than a MaxiPad but you can bet the apps will be worse, and it's cheaper than a Surface but much less functional.

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Meh

Hmmm ...

Frustrating. Chrome OS is not ready for full time Touch (I have a Flip - almost a usable Tablet). Android cannot yet handle the full Chrome experience with extensions or a touch pad.

Without a touch pad this is not great for RDP. Although it will run Android Office Apps it won't work with 365, or full Google Apps.

This should have been running Chrome OS - but Chrome OS is not ready.

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Anonymous Coward

Not entering into the who was first pissing match...

Just as an observation, the Asus W500 had a very similar form factor and was far from stable - even on a desk.

Very top heavy and inclined to tilt backwards in a gentle breeze. Much like me on a Saturday night.

Unless the keyboard is front-weighted or the body is much lighter than it looks, over it will go - exposing its top half to damage and its nethers to ridicule. Again much like me on a Saturday night.

Oh how I have wished for a more robust forward counterbalance and a lower center of gravity..

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Silver badge

Re: Not entering into the who was first pissing match...

... the Asus W500 had a very similar form factor ..

ITYM Acer W500?

... but, yes, you're right. The "dockable tablet" idea was far from new when Microsoft "invented" it!

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Anonymous Coward

Very well researched

Because the surface doesn't have a snap on magnetic keyboard. Nah, I'd rather stick with the surface thanks. It's clear you never used one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Very well researched

See para 1, para 2?

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Android Updates?

Its a lot of money to spend on a tablet where the Android OS only ever gets a single iteration update, during the product's lifecycle. OK, its Google - it might get a few more, but 2 years in, you're generally shafted, stuck on that version on Android.

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Re: Android Updates?

As it's direct from google, it'll be 2 years guaranteed updates, with 18 months of security updates after it stops being sold.

Of course they could change their minds, but it's a much better bet than anything from an android 3rd party.

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Apple's Idiot Tax

iTax

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Meh

Feels very also-ran?

This doesn't really appear to offer anything especially different or special compared to many of the things already out there. Even the price point is not particularly aggressive, though I suspect that's because ODM's don't appreciate being undercut by the their OS supplier. Is the (only? major?) selling point the Nexus "Pure Android" experience? Their track record in long term updates for the previous tablets are spotty at best.

As an alternative, with more/better connectivity, Sony's Xperia Tablet Z4 has been around for a while:

* http://www.sonymobile.com/global-en/products/tablets/xperia-z4-tablet/

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Look at that resolution!

Some sources claim it has a resolution of 2560x1800. That's much better than they typical 1366x768 that we've come to expect from Reg hardware reviews.

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Boffin

Cheaper? Really?

"But that's still less than a Surface or iPad Pro."

I think someone needs a new calculator.

Cheapest Surface 3 is $499 for the 64GB version. Keyboard is $129.

Pixel C is $599 for the 64GB version and keyboard is $149. Even if you go for the cheaper device with less storage, that is still $20 more expensive.

That and the fact that you can do more with the Surface because it can run normal Windows software as well as the new Universal apps and, if you want to spend an extra $49, you can get the pen as well.

As far as I can tell, the only area where the Pixel C really beats the Surface tablet is on screen resolution. It is actually a slightly smaller screen (10.2" vs 10.8") but has a higher ppi.

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Re: Cheaper? Really?

Surface 3, shitty display and the lovely Atom processor, 2 gigs or RAM for Windows... you must be an idiot.

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Hey it worked out GREAT for Asus

Too bad Asus makes shitty, buggy hardware (as in the TF700 and it's regressively slow sdram that actually deteriorates physically until the tablet is nothing but a useless slab).

I loved my Transformer. It was a great little travel laptop with an unprecedented battery life. But after watching my TF700 turn into an unusable pile of junk, i won't be getting another.

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder if

Jeremy Corbyn will buy one?

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g e

Xperia Z4

Sits fine on my lap with a good firm hinge on the keyboard allowing the screen to be left in whatever position you like.

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Nice display and a real tablet OS

Well, something a little less than the iPad but with high end specs. I like the looks of this. You really have to get a more expensive SP3 to get close to this and you have the risk of a dead end product(like Zune or Kin Phone)

I love competition, so we will see next year how well these devices compete in the next 12 months.

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