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Pixel Slate: Do Google's specs, prices, or platform threaten the iPad and Surface?

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?

Google unveils a new tablet and of course the first thing we techie watchers want to do is to do is compare it to the competition and rate its chances of surviving a year.

That's a natural thing to do.

Also: Best Budget Laptops for 2018 CNET

In fact, my first thought were that this thing seemed like a knock-off Surface, and another attempt by Google to grab a tiny sliver of the tablet pie, most of which is being wolfed by Apple's iPad, now that Android tablets have essentially sunk into irrelevance.

On the tech specs front, the Pixel Slate is impressive:

  • Display: 12.3-inch Molecular Display
  • Processors: Intel Celeron/8th-gen Core m3, 8th-gen Core i5, 8th-gen Core i7 processors
  • RAM: 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB
  • Storage: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB
  • Audio: Dual front-facing speakers, two microphones for noise cancellation
  • Operating System: Chrome OS
  • Materials: Aluminum and Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • Color: Midnight Blue
  • Battery: 48Wh battery, with fast charging support (up to 2 hours in 15 minutes of charge)
  • Camera: 8 MP with wide FOV
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2x2 (MIMO), dual-band (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2
  • Security: Fingerprint Sensor
  • Sensors: 3-axis Gyroscope/ Accelerometer
  • Ports: Two USB-Cs for charging, 4K display output and quicker data transfer; Accessory connector for Pixel Slate Keyboard
  • Dimensions: 11.45 in (290.85 mm) by 7.95 in (202.04 mm)
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs (721 g)

Prices start at $599 for a Celeron model with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and go all the way up to $1,599 for the Core i7 equipped model with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

So how does this stand up against the iPad or Surface? Well, I could spend a lot of time (an awful lot!) comparing processors and displays and how much flash storage each tablet has to offer. But I won't.

Why?

Because there's no point.

Also: How to run Firefox Quantum on a Chromebook TechRepublic

It's not down to the hardware. Well, price is always a factor, but with the bases covered from $599 to +$1,000, there something to everyone outside of those looking for something cheap.

It's all down to the operating system, the Google name, and the differentiation. At the launch event Google pushed artificial intelligence, Google Assistant, and the Chrome OS as what separates this from the competition, and it's success -- or failure -- will hinge on the adoption of these technologies.

And, let's be honest, Google is in with a chance here. It's held its own in the face of strong opposition with Chromebooks, and the company has managed to get Android into pretty much everything.

Also: Google's Pixel Slate problem: The Android apps are awful

While I don't think there's any danger of the Pixel Slate unseating the iPad, and let's not even give airtime to the "iPad killer" thing, Google could have a platform here -- and that's how we need to be looking at this, as a platform -- that could be disruptive.

It's definitely a device worth keeping an eye on.

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