In order to make the Google Pixel Slate a productive computer, see our full review, you need an external keyboard to pair up with the tablet. I highly recommend that you skip the Pixel Slate Keyboard and purchase the Brydge G-Type Keyboard for $40 less.
The Pixel Slate Keyboard offers a fantastic typing experience with the rounded keys and it connects via the Quick Snap Connector and magnets while also offering a nice adjustable cover/stand. However, it is terrible for laptop use and is a poor cover with sloppy fit up as the keyboard slides across the display and moves around a lot when you carry it in the closed position.
Brydge has been making keyboards for iPads and the Microsoft Surface Pro for several years and has perfected its keyboard designs. It is clear that Brydge worked closely with Google on the G-Type for Pixel Slate as it perfectly matches the color, curves, and overall design language of the Google Pixel Slate. In the closed position it almost looks like two Google Pixel Slates are resting against each other.
The Brydge G-Type has the following specs/features:
- Modes: Laptop, tablet, and entertainment
- Backlighting: Three brightness levels
- Viewing angles: 0-180 degrees
- Battery life: Six months, assuming two hours of use per day
- Material: Aluminum with matching Midnight Blue color as the Pixel Slate
- Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2
- Dimensions: 290.5 x 205 x 7 mm and 700 grams
Unlike Google's Pixel Slate keyboard, the Brydge G-Type connects via Bluetooth. I've been fortunate in my use of the Pixel Slate as I have not experienced any Bluetooth connection issues in my three weeks of use. Bluetooth has performed flawlessly with my mouse and a couple of different types of wireless headsets. Thus, setting up and connecting the G-Type was also a simple and flawless experience.
After you setup the G-Type connection once, you shouldn't have to mess with Bluetooth again. There are power and Bluetooth buttons in the upper right that you may have to occasionally use if you leave the keyboard open and walk away from using the Pixel Slate for more than 15 minutes.
In normal use where you are typing away and using your Pixel Slate, the connection should remain intact or start right back up when you start hammering away on the keys. If you close the Slate/keyboard combo and then open it up for use, the keyboard Bluetooth connection should fire up as soon as you press a key and you can just start typing away as if the connection is a direct connection.
I've been using the Brydge G-Type in my home office, while commuting on the train, and at my Seattle office without any connection issues or problems.
The G-Type keyboard has a battery inside with a rated six months of life with two hours of daily usage. Like other Bluetooth keyboards, it rarely needs to be charged and charging is really not a concern at all. Thankfully, Brydge also made sure to use USB-C for charging this keyboard so your Pixel Slate charger can be used.
The primary mode for using the Brydge G-Type keyboard is laptop mode. Like other Brydge keyboards, the Pixel Slate is attached to the keyboard with two hinge brackets that are lined with rubber. Simply insert the Pixel Slate down into both hinges and line up the corners with the corners of the viewable part of the display.
With the Pixel Slate mounted in the hinge brackets, you can bring down the Pixel Slate and rest it on the keyboard to then carry it around securely. Lift up the Pixel Slate and adjust it from 0 to 180 degrees for your optimally viewing/usage position. The hinges are rigid and the Pixel Slate will stay at the angle you desire.The G-Type keyboard is also weighted perfectly to keep the Pixel Slate from rocking backwards when you positing it at higher angles. The Pixel Slate weighs 731 grams and the G-Type keyboard is similar at 700 grams.
If you want to use the G-Type keyboard in the two other modes, then you need to remove it from the hinge brackets and insert it with the screen facing away from the keyboard. Then lie the back of the Pixel Slate down onto the G-Type keyboard for tablet use. When the keyboard is powered off or disconnected via Bluetooth, then the Pixel Slate will switch to the tablet user interface. When the keyboard is connected to the Pixel Slate, then the desktop interface is activated.
If you raise the Pixel Slate up, then you are in entertainment mode that is perfect for watching video content. This mode can be perfect for watching movies while having your Pixel Slate on a small airline serving tray or while commuting and enjoying media without needing to use the keyboard for any text entry.
I've been using the G-Type keyboard exclusively with the Pixel Slate for a week and the typing experience has been near flawless. I compared the keyboard to the one on my Pixelbook and the G-Type has a bit more travel, but still isn't a loud keyboard. It is not as silent as Google Pixel Slate keyboard, but has more tactile feedback.
The keys are the same as the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate keyboard, with the addition of Bluetooth, power, and FN keys. The Bluetooth and power buttons are in the top right aboe the backspace key. The FN key is down on the left between the Google Assistant and CTRL key. The CTRL key on the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate keyboards is elongated, but is a standard rectangular shape on the G-Type. I haven't yet found a use for the FN key though.
Just like the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate keyboards, you can control the backlight brightness using the Alt and brightness keys. There are three levels of backlighting on this G-Type keyboard.
There is also a large glass trackpad on the G-Type keyboard. It is the same width as the Pixel Slate Keyboard, with a bit less height. The same multi-finger gestures are supported as well. Unlike Google's Pixel Slate keyboard, there is also no unintentional trackpad click activation when you flex the keyboard.
Comparison to previous Brydge keyboard
I enjoyed using the Brydge 12.3 keyboard last year with a Surface Pro 4, but am pleased to see all of the improvements in this G-Type keyboard.
Improvements in this over that Brydge keyboard from last year include a significantly larger trackpad, USB-C for charging instead of microUSB, lighter weight (700 grams vs 745 grams), and improved Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity.
The Google Pixel Slate is a more refined piece of hardware than the Pixelbook with smaller top and bottom display bezels, 2.5D curved glass on the front, higher resolution display, and next generation Intel processor. However, I was ready to set it aside and go back to my Pixelbook because Google's Pixel Slate Keyboard can't really be used away from a desktop and sloppy protection takes away from the high quality of the Pixel Slate.
- Google Pixel Slate, hands-on: the keyboard's the best feature (CNET)
- Google Pixel Slate tablet: Cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
The Brydge G-Type Keyboard has completely changed my mind about the Pixel Slate and with this keyboard now in hand I see no reason to go back to the Pixelbook. I have not experienced any Bluetooth issues, random reboots, or other software issues with the Pixel Slate. Android apps still need some work, but when the desktop version of Chrome is your workhorse and that is flawless then Android apps are more of a convenience than a necessity.
The Brydge G-Type keyboard is a fingerprint magnet, just like the Pixel Slate, but it looks fantastic in Midnight Blue and the flawless performance and design far outweights a few smudges when I carry it around. I also love that the keyboard offers a much more protective arrangement when carrying the Pixel Slate in my gear bag and around the office.
If you purchase a Google Pixel Slate, skip Google's keyboard and pick up the Brydge G-Type for $40 less.
Previous and related coverage:
Google's Pixel Slate is the latest entry into a tablet market already dominated by the likes of the iPad and the Surface. Does the Pixel Slate have what it takes to stand its ground?
The Pixel Slate lands as expected. It's a Chromebook that could be mistaken for a Microsoft Surface.
In a world of massive smartphones, there are still a few that comfortably fit in your hand and pocket. The Google Pixel 3 is the best small Android smartphone, but it's not quite perfect.