When we last saw the Xess — the massive 17-inch Android tablet from Alcatel — it was doing its best impression of a possible one-device-to-rule-your-home sort of thing. It's grown a little bit in purpose since then, though it's still a ways from actually going on sale. (Sometime in the first half of the year, for around $499, we're told.)
What's really new is the launcher you see before you. You're essentially looking at three (and then some) dedicated quadrants for things like recipes, Amazon shopping, YouTube or Hulu, and news and social media. The space on the left is meant for things like home video monitoring, which can live there for constant viewing. And, in fact, Alcatel is looking at bundling an IP camera with the Xess.
Acer wants to sell an Android tablet to the family crowd with the introduction of the Iconia One 8. Revealed as part of its CES 2016 product announcements, the 8-inch tablet will ship with Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box
If you own a Nexus phone or tablet, and don't like to wait for the OTA release, you can now download the latest factory image from Google and flash it yourself. The update is still Android 6.0.1, but carries a different version number depending which phone or tablet you are using.
If you were one of the people who backed the Jolla Tablet back in late 2014 with funds, via Indiegogo, thinking you would be getting one, you might be disappointed. The upstart Finnish manufacturer has now revealed that an unnamed number of those original backers won't be getting the tablet after all.
Nextbook, the manufacturer of various budget Android and Windows tablets, will be expanding its lineup at CES 2016 with the Ares 11a. This will be a 2-in-1 tablet, featuring a full-size detachable keyboard. The tablet itself features an 11.6-inch display, and will run Android 5.1 out of the box. Inside, you'll find a quad-core Intel Atom X5-Z8300 processor that is paired with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of on-board storage.
But this much is clear when it comes to the new Pixel C: It's not any more of a productive device than the Nexus 9 is. Never mind the 3 billion (plus or minus) extra processing cores. Never mind magnets. Never mind keyboards. And never mind the awesome Googley LED on the back, which might be solely responsible for 50 percent of my lost work-hours the past several weeks.
I'm not any more productive with the Pixel C for a single reason, and it's one that has absolutely nothing to with any of the hardware.
Google's first in-house tablet is very pretty, but far from an original idea.
There's a lot of excitement surrounding the shiny new Pixel C from Google, and with good reason. It's a spec powerhouse, it's running the latest and greatest version of Android, and it is so damn pretty. A big selling point for this tablet is its keyboard, which connects to the tablet with a series of powerful magnets and even receives power from the tablet when docked in a closed position. All told, the Pixel C has no shortage of clever but right this moment the software still stumbles to deliver a complete thought.
If that sounds familiar, it's because we said almost the exact same thing about another clever Android tablet/keyboard combo that was released earlier this year. Dell's Venue 10 7000 Series and Google's Pixel C have a lot in common, and choosing between the two really comes down to what functions you're most willing to sacrifice in order to get an Android-powered almost-laptop.
It's easy when reviewing a device to get distracted by what the product could have been, or what it maybe was supposed to have been, rather than what it actually is. And that distraction is even more apparent when it comes to the Google Pixel C, a beautiful but heavy 10-inch Android tablet that almost certainly isn't yet living up to its full potential.
A large, beautiful display
Excellent build quality
Impressive (optional) keyboards
Nexus-like promises of software updates
And the keyboards make it heavier (and thicker)
A good bit of wonk in Android on this platform
Too many apps don't play nice with landscape orientation
Just as promised, NVIDIA has begun pushing the Marshmallow update to its Shield Tablet K1. The update was promised before the end of the year, and weighing in at 665MB it brings a number of big changes to the tablet.
But one way Google got the keyboards to be as good as they are was to do without some of the less common secondary functionality. Some symbols have been moved. And others are missing altogether. And so you'll want to learn some keyboard shortcuts on the Pixel C.
Then there's the matter of navigating Android itself. There's no trackpad on these keyboards, so you'll have to lift your hands from the keys and peck at the screen more than you might like. Or, you can once again use some Pixel C keyboard shortcuts.
Google has a good cheat sheet that's worth taking a look at. But here are the Pixel C keyboard shortcuts we think you need to know above all others:
For navigating Android
Home — Search + Enter
Back — Search + Backspace
Recent apps — Alt + Tab (same as it ever was)
Brackets — Use three dots + o for left bracket [, three dots + p for right bracket ]
Back slash — Three dots + equals =
Escape — When would you use this? We don't know. But it lives at three dots + 1
Android sets defaults for a number of applications types — default browser, email client, messenger, etc. And there are keyboard shortcuts for launching them, which can be handy. Those shortcuts are:
Samsung made a solid tablet, but it isn't perfect — and at this price you almost expect it to be.
The quick take
The Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is thin, light, powerful, has a great screen, and is sprinkled with extra features like a fingerprint sensor, good battery life, a decent rear-facing camera and a solid side-by-side app implementation. Unfortunately it still comes up short with Samsung's overall weak software design, and poor button and speaker placement when using the tablet in landscape. Perhaps the biggest downside, however, is it's price — not everyone is willing to spend $399 on an 8-inch tablet.
The holidays are upon us, and the question is ... what are you getting?
Whatever your cause for indulging, the final six weeks of the year generally are a popular time for gift-giving, something retailers could not be more eager to accommodate. And so we tapped into our communities of Android, Apple, Windows and BlackBerry fans — more than 5,000 of you in North America from Nov. 25-Dec. 5 — to find out which products are creeping to the top of the holiday purchase plans.
If you've ever seen a SmartBoard in a classroom, you know how cool it is to be able to walk up to a projector screen with a pen and interact with a desktop environment. The only real downside to most SmartBoard setups is the use of Windows, usually an older version of Windows that doesn't play all that well with what is essentially a touch environment. TouchJet has taken this idea and replaced Windows with Android, and instead of making this hardware mostly exclusive to classrooms it's something anyone can buy and set up in their homes.
Google now has two compelling tablets in its stable, even if one is an aging workhorse.
In many respects Google now has competing product lines. There's Nexus, which since 2010 has represented Google's vision of Android on both a hardware and software level. And now there's Pixel — or, more specifically, the Pixel C tablet — which ... well, we're still not entirely sure where the Pixel C fits in. It's an obvious cousin to the Chromebook Pixel — right down to the Google-colored LED on its back.
But unlike the Chromebook Pixel the Pixel C doesn't run Chrome. It's decidedly an Android product and for all intents and purposes (so far, anyway) might as well be a Nexus. Stock Android, nearly identical to Android 6.0.1 on the Nexus 9. (The on-screen buttons are the lone visual difference.) Factory restore image, just like a Nexus. (And hosted on this same page, no less.
But the Pixel C and the Nexus 9 are two very different devices.