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Google Pixel Slate Combines Best of a Tablet and Laptop

Google goes after the iPad, laptop and Microsoft Surface with a new device called the Pixel Slate. It combines the best of a tablet and laptop computer into one device.

Google has a new device that combines the flexibility of a laptop with the portability of a tablet. It's called the Google Pixel Slate. I got to go hands-on with the new device at the company's launch event in New York City.

Think iPad, combined with a Chromebook.

"When you’re holding it as a tablet, it feels like a traditional tablet experience. Then when you pop it into the keyboard, it feels like a typical chromebook experience," explained Matt Vokoun, Google Director of Product Management for Hardware.

Matt Vokoun holding Google Pixel Slate at Made By Google Event in New York City

Pixel Slate has a spacious 12-inch screen, plus speakers on the front. This way, you can hear your movies and Netflix better.

The tablet runs a touch-optimized version of Google's Chrome operating system. This means no worries about viruses and the software is always up to date.

This also means that you can't install your typical Windows programs on the Google Pixel Slate. Obviously, you also can't install any iOS apps like you would be able to on the iPad.

However, you can run all of Google's apps including the Chrome browser, Google Docs and any Android apps.

"This is the full desktop version of the Chrome browser, so you’re not limited by extensions or the mobile version of a site," explained Vokoun.

Another neat aspect to the Pixel Slate is that you can connect the tablet to a monitor, mouse and keyboard for a full desktop experience. Then disconnect when you're ready to go on the road again.

The Pixel Slate has optional accessories including a custom keyboard cover and a pen. You'll probably want both if you want to fully unlock everything this new device is capable of.

"With the folio, we just pop in a snap, then you can infinitely adjust it to multiple angles," explained Vokoun. This means you can adjust the viewing angle to your liking, which is nice.

Google said their team worked hard to make the keyboard feel like what you would get on a desktop. The key are round instead of the customary square, but in my short time in typing on the keyboard, it was quite comfortable and I could type very fast without a lot of mistakes. Additionally, the keys are quiet.

google pixel slate keyboard

As much as I love my MacBook Pro, I cannot stand the keyboard. I'm always making mistakes since the keys don't have much "travel" (the amount of distance they can be pushed down) and the keyboard is one of the loudest I've ever used.

Other specs on the Pixel Slate include cameras on the front and back. The front camera has a nice wide angle so you can easily video conference.

There's also a USB-C port on each side of the tablet.

The pen lets you write, clip notes and even circle on the screen to perform a Google search for more information.

Overall, the Google Pixel Slate is a good device for a road warrior who doesn't want to carry around both a laptop and a tablet. I see it more for the photo editing and spreadsheet set. Those who are creating a lot of video content and working with various specialty apps might be better served with a dedicated laptop.

The Google Pixel Slate goes on sale "later this year" starting at $600. The keyboard is an additional $200 while the pen is another $100.

NOW LISTEN: Here's an extended interview with Matt Vokoun, Google Director of Product Management for Hardware about how his team approached designing what the Google Pixel Slate would be capable of. As heard on the Rich on Tech Podcast.