Google Pixel Tablet review | The ideal streaming and audio companion

by W. Andrew Powell
Google Pixel Tablet

Google’s Pixel Tablet is a subtle shift for the market, and it’s incredibly appealing with an excellent overall design.

While a lot of tablets have fought to prove themselves as mini-laptop alternatives, and general purpose devices for work and play, Google has set the Pixel Tablet up as the perfect streaming and home control companion.

Holding the tablet, you can stream or work, or browse social media, but when it’s connected to the Charging Speaker Dock, the Pixel Tablet does so many things that sets it apart, including from smart speakers.

You can ask for the weather and see the full week ahead. Look up recipes and follow instructions. Opening home controls lets you tap lights on and off, or turn up the volume on multiple speakers at once. Playing YouTube videos or streaming television or movies means you can jump to any scene, and the speaker dock takes the audio up a notch.

While I wish there was more of an ecosystem of accessories for the Pixel Tablet, Google’s latest device is beautifully simple, smart, and powerful.

The Pixel Tablet

Google Pixel Tablet with the charging speaker dock

From the tablet perspective, the Pixel checks off a lot of requirements. The 10.95-inch LCD display is bright, the perfect size, and it’s sharp, with a good, natural 16:10 aspect ratio.

The 2560 x 1600 resolution, and 276 pixels per inch density looks great, and it fits well in the hands. The anti-smudge coating on the rear of the tablet also keeps in nicely clean compared to a lot of others that I’ve used.

At just 493 grams, it’s lightweight, with nice, rounded corners, and at 8.1 mm thick, it’s perfect to hold whether you use it with a case or not.

The four speakers deliver great, immersive sound quality that actually works quite well when you’re holding it, because your hands will ultimately cup around two of the speakers, bouncing it into your ears. That actually makes a big difference in sound, but it will depend on how you hold it; it worked well for me and my family though.

Thanks to the Google Tensor G2 processor, and the 8 GB of RAM, the Pixel Tablet is very responsive and quick, and it runs so well that all the apps feel smooth and quick, whether you’re multitasking, streaming, or gaming.

Google has worked with a number of app developers to optimize them for the tablet, and that includes games like Clash of Clans and Diablo Immortal, streaming services Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, and iHeartRadio, plus TikTok, Teams, the Microsoft suite, and WhatsApp.

The tablet also supports split screen, and maybe best of all, allows you to setup multiple users, including with Kids Space so you can make sure they’re browsing safely and only have access to kid-friendly apps.

With its 7,020 mAh battery, the tablet offers around 12 hours of video streaming, and it lasted well throughout the day for me, even when I didn’t dock it for a full day.

I watched Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on Crave, checked out a few YouTube videos, and I browsed TikTok, and everything looked and sounded great. It’s an extremely appealing overall package, and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.

The tablet does offer a pair of identical 8 MP cameras, one on the front and one on the rear, with an ƒ/2.0 aperture, fixed focus, and 84° field of view that are pretty average for the average tablet. For video calls and things, they worked well.

Tablet + Dock

Google Pixel Tablet dock

Using the Google Pixel Tablet with the Charging Speaker Dock is where the device really gets interesting. The dock delivers 15 W of charging, with a 43.5 mm full-range speaker that really boosts everything you play from the tablet.

From Spotify to YouTube, and streaming, the Pixel Tablet is a great display for watching and listening to everything. I setup the tablet beside my desk, and I use it all the time for video and music. My computer has pretty good speakers, but the audio from the Pixel Tablet is great, and thanks to the rounded speaker design, it nicely fills a space.

For video calling, it also is the perfect height for hands-free calling without a phone or computer. You can easily ask Google to call any of your contacts, and setup contacts on the screen to tap and call. The setup feels really natural, and it sounds great, making it easier to hear people as well.

You can of course make calls without docking the tablet, but I like the handsfree nature of the setup, plus the tablet has the camera centered above the middle of the screen, so it’s well-placed for horizontal calls.

And for those of us who love our home controls, the Pixel Tablet feels like a natural management centre. If you have a lot of smart devices, the tablet makes it easier to control your whole home, or even stream from the tablet to your TV, phone, or other connected screens.

The tablet also supports USI 2.0 stylus pens, so you can take control with a stylus, or even get fancy and edit photos while it’s docked. Google Photos for the tablet even includes a number of very sharp tools, like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur, which are also available on the Pixel phones.

Hub mode is perfect as a display for your favourite photos with screensaver mode, too, so you’ll always have something nice to look at, even when you’re not actively using the tablet.

And unlike every other tablet out there, when you’re ready to pick up the Pixel Tablet to do anything, it’s always charged. The dock keeps it ready to use, any time, which is one of the best features. While I’m not sure if that will have an impact on the battery life after a number of weeks or months, so far it’s been a really nice feature.

Final thoughts

Overall, I only have a few minor complaints with the tablet. Beyond everything0 else, I really appreciate the quick fingerprint unlock, thanks to the power button fingerprint sensor, and the latest technology like Wi-Fi 6 dual-band, Bluetooth v5.2, and the Ultra-Wideband chip.

I like the tablet as a general purpose tablet because it has all the right specs to be a good device for a decent price. However I love the Pixel Tablet as a streaming and connected hub for my home because of the dock. No other tablet offers anything like this, and for the right user, it’s very useful, sounds great, and works extremely well.

It would be nice if Google offered more accessories for the tablet, like a tablet case that included a screen cover, or a stylus. If that’s a deal breaker for you, it’s something to think about. I also wish that the tablet had a microSD card slot, to expand on the available storage space.

However, if you want a device that’s more than just a tablet, with its own speaker stand, that has simple controls, and it’s still powerful: it’s hard to beat the Pixel Tablet.

Google is offering 5 years of Pixel updates with the device, and it’s made of over 30% recycled materials. The tablet is available in Porcelain, Hazel, and Rose for $699 CAD, with 128 GB of storage, and $799 CAD for 256 GB of storage.

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