Is the Pen included with the Pixel Slate?
Best answer: No. The product listing for the Pixel Slate at the Google Store clearly states "Pixelbook Pen sold separately." The Pixelbook Pen is available in white or midnight blue for an additional $99.
- Best Buy: Pixel Slate ($799+)
- Best Buy: Pixelbook Pen ($99)
$100 worth spending
Unfortunately, the Pixelbook Pen isn't included in the box with a Pixel Slate. Google confirms this on the Pixel Slate's product page with a footnote that reads Pixelbook Pen sold separately so there is no confusion, even though every product image you'll see has the Pen in it, too. You could say that it should be included because of the price and I think most people would agree, but like the keyboard it's an extra accessory purchase. But it is one that you should make because the Pen adds a lot of functionality.
The Pixelbook Pen uses Wacom's AES 2.a (Active Electrostatic second generation, the same as what's used in the Microsoft Surface Pro and iPad Pro) technology with full tilt support and pressure sensitivity. Compared to the other popular Pen input method — Wacom's EMR (Electromagnetic Resonance) that means you'll need to power the Pen using a AAAA battery, it's capable of a 1:1 pixel sensitivity, and there is zero drift while using it since the pen is the active component. It also means that longer lines have a tendency to get jittery when compared to EMR tech.
When the display is built correctly, you shouldn't really notice any difference between the two technologies and if you like to produce digital artwork or jot notes using handwriting or annotate a screenshot or photo, you'll find a good pen an invaluable tool for your tablet or laptop. Having been a daily user of the Pixelbook and its Pen for work and play over the course of a year, I can tell you it's a very well built display, drawing and writing is almost as satisfying as when done on paper, and I had no idea how handy a Pen input device for a large tablet or laptop could be until I tried it.
For writing and drawing, the Pixelbook and its Pen are fabulous. Apps like Evernote, Squid, and Nebo are Chromebook optimized which means they not only look great on the display but also have basically zero input lag and precise lines for taking notes. Google Keep and it's Chrome lock screen integration make quick notes or annotations a breeze and has become an app I couldn't live without. I also like to draw and doodle, so the Infinite Painter and Sketchbook optimization make them indispensable apps that I miss when I'm not using a Chromebook with its own Pen.
The Pixelbook Pen is useful for more than just drawing or writing, too. Press and hold the button, then circle anything you see on your screen and Google Assistant arrives to help identify, define, or otherwise assist with information. As a writer, having Google define and offer synonyms for a word is a big help and a user doing things like looking up an address or phone number is handy, too. I'm not afraid to type, but I find myself clicking my Pixelbook Pen button more often than I thought i would.
$100 it a lot of money for a stylus, active or not. But I've found the Pixelbook Pen one of those accessories that's worth its price and wouldn't hesatite to buy a replacement should I lose mine.
Money well spent
The Pixelbook Pen may not be included with the purchase of a new Pixel Slate, but it is an accessory that is worth more than the asking price once you realize how much use you'll get from it.
Google's new tablet
The Pixel Slate looks to be a fine Chromebook for just about anyone, and the addition of the Pixelbook Pen makes it even better.
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Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.