You shouldn't buy the Pixel Tablet

Google Pixel Tablet in vertical mode
(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)
Beyond the Alphabet

Android Central's LLoyd with a projection with a Google logo

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Beyond the Alphabet is a weekly column that focuses on the tech world both inside and out of the confines of Mountain View.

When the rumors began mounting about Google's return to the tablet market, I was beyond excited. I immediately thought back to the glory days of the Nexus 7 and hoped that it would spark some innovation. One could argue that Google delivered, as the Pixel Tablet doubles as a smart home hub. However, Google just proved that it doesn't really care, and neither should you. 

Instead of waiting until I/O 2024, Google decided to announce the new Pixel 8a and a price reduction (of sorts) for the Pixel Tablet. It's not actually lowering the price, but you can finally just buy the tablet, saving $100 and opting against having the Charging Speaker Dock at your disposal. Groundbreaking.

Google Pixel Tablet specs launch at Google I/O 2023

(Image credit: Android Central)

This kind of solves one of the biggest gripes that I had with the Pixel Tablet with its value proposition for the $499 price tag. For the most part, it's just a Pixel 5 that's been stretched to accommodate an 11-inch screen. Sure, it's great to have a 2560 x 1600 resolution, but Google skimped out by going with an LCD panel. 

The 16:10 aspect ratio is great for using apps in split view and multitasking, but Google still doesn't sell a first-party keyboard case or even a stylus. Not to mention that the Pixel Tablet isn't great for gaming, as the LCD panel is locked to a 60Hz refresh rate.

Admittedly, I don't often use the Pixel Tablet as a tablet. It remains docked 99% of the time, only to be removed when I need to update the software or the installed apps. I have to imagine that I'm not the only one who opts for this use case and wouldn't be surprised if this is the case for a lot of people. 

Google could have made a smart decision, but instead, it decided to remain greedy.

However, I'm only being further convinced that Google doesn't have much of a sense of direction with this product. Re-releasing the Pixel Tablet sans the Dock or any relevant first-party accessories roughly a year after the initial release has me wondering what in the world is happening. On top of that, the $399 price tag is still too damn high for what you're getting.

Yes, it's a Pixel Tablet running Google's version of Android. But thanks to Google's own gate-keeping of features, it's running into the same problem as the Pixel Fold. All of those cool AI features? Yeah, they have only recently started to become available on the Pixel Tablet. Hell, Circle to Search was announced at the start of 2024 and still won't be arriving for Pixel Tablet owners until "later this month."

I'm not going to re-hash all of my feelings on that here, as I've already done so a couple of times. But that doesn't negate the point that Google is lost, as it's pretty obvious that it's stretching itself in too many directions.

pixel tablet home dashboard

(Image credit: @tshakaarmstrong)

It's all about AI and where Google can throw Gemini while blaming the hardware for those features not being available on a Google-released device. "Oh, it'll get there....eventually." Well, at least when Samsung or Apple says a new feature is coming, most of the time, those companies follow through.

This revelation about re-releasing the Pixel Tablet without the dock should've happened already. By no means am I an analyst, but I have to assume that the dockless Pixel Tablet would've been a hot-ticket item over the 2023 holidays. But instead, Google opted to throw it in as an afterthought when announcing a brand-new product.

I probably wouldn't feel the way I do if Google either held off on this tomfoolery until the G3 (or G4) Pixel Tablet was ready or lowered the price to around $299. To put this into perspective, take a look at what Amazon did with the Fire Max 11 tablet. For about $285, you can get the Fire Max 11, bundled with the Amazon Stylus Pen and the Keyboard Case. Oh, and that's with paying extra for the "Without Lockscreen Ads" version. 

Close-up on Amazon Stylus Pen and Keyboard Cover - 2

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

With the Pixel Tablet, you'll pay $399 and get a charging cable, along with some regulatory paperwork. Not to mention that despite being rumored since last year, there aren't any new first-party accessories. It's beyond frustrating to see these decisions being made, especially when it's so obvious that they're wearing blinders and can't see the forest for the trees.

I've just about lost hope in Google's product strategy, and maybe I should just give it up. It's apparent that Google has, and I won't be surprised if the Pixel Tablet 2 never sees the light of day. 

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks, tablets, and wearables

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.

  • notforhire
    I think you hit most of the high points. If you'd gone on much longer, it would've been nothing more than "piling on.".........well said
  • Zeeba
    I want you to know that you are exactly right about Google being lost.

    I have a Pixel Tablet and I love it! However, I don't use it for much, so I'm not sure if I love it for what it does, or that I love it because it costs a lot and I should take care of it. But I do like the Pixel Tablet. Never would I buy it without the dock. Nor do I think I'd want multiple docks. I might seem lost in this thought myself.
    My Pixel Tablet is my Drive hub and, just a beautiful centerpiece in my cluttered kitchen. I use it daily, but I only really watch YouTube and play games that run well on my Pixel 8 Pro. I had thought that Google had a plan in mind when swapping the Nexus for Pixel, but clearly the business is too large to handle the minutiae that goes into Quality Assurance and Control.

    As bad as this is, I hope that Google figures it out and somehow returns to the company they were in the 2010s.
  • CajunMoses
    Sounds like this tablet isn't a good fit for the author, so he's trashing it for everyone. It's probably a great option for most folks who want an Android tablet.
  • Daelos
    I bought one mostly because I use it mooching around the house. It fits it's use case perfectly, however I was hoping it would kickstart more home automation stuff and rev up Google Home into something actually useful but it's done nothing. If anything Home/Assistant/Nest is worse than last year. Where's all the cool stuff the tensor chip could do on a homebody machine? It's no longer doing photos so surely it could be used for something else?
  • lucidlyseen
    Well for $0 in exchange for my dust collecting iPad gen 6, I'll happily get one.
  • acecool99
    So you don't like it because it doesn't have a keyboard, doesn't have AI features, and you just get the tablet? Who cares about that stuff? What about the performance or ergonomics?
  • LordNikonX
    Do you have ~$570 and would like to buy a Pixel Tablet for ~$170? 1. Go to gen?carrier=wifi and buy a used 7th Gen iPad. (~$170) 2. Go to com/config/pixel_tablet?hl=en-US and purchase Pixel Tablet ($399) and choose to trade in the iPad. 3. Wait for iPad and Pixel Tablet to arrive. 4. Make sure the iPad is completely factory reset and send it to Google for the $399 credit back to your card.
  • 333tmh
    Andrew, I would say that your use case is in search of another tablet that is not a Pixel. I absolutely disagree with the statement "you should not buy a Pixel tablet."

    This tablet sits on the countertop in my kitchen and it is very useful as a central hub for tasks and reminders, home automation, viewing all my security camera feeds, cooking recipes and catching up on the news. All hands-free. It does remain docked most of the time, but if I choose to, I find it so very useful to simply pull the tablet off and head to the couch to finish watching the news. But the single greatest feature I like is that I just put it back on the dock and I don't have to fumble with cables for charging.

    I particularly enjoy the feature of casting media from my phone directly to the Pixel tablet as it is a larger screen and easier to view content. I also own a Pixel fold and I find that the tablet mimics more of the same experience that I have on the fold. I would agree with you however that both the OS for the Pixel tablet and the pixel fold certainly have a lot of growing up to do, but overall my experience using the Pixel tablet has been nothing but comfortable and organic for my use cases.

    The tablet easily incorporated itself into my Google home and playing music on my home's speaker group integrates nicely. The speaker dock is not going to win any awards for sound quality, but integrated with my home's sound system it works just fine.

    I have created a second, work profile, on the pixel tablet. I use a third party stylus (Penovol) to edit documents, take notes, and research the web. Video calls through Google meet work great. I am told that the audio and video quality on the other end is on par with what anyone would experience from my laptop or other mobile device. On weekend trips I simply throw the tablet in my bag leaving the large laptop behind. The tablet connects seamlessly to airline Wi-Fi allowing me to get quick work done. I would not however recommend this device for power users needing to do some serious computing work. But simple tasks can be completed with these.

    I am rambling here but I just simply want to say that a blanket statement of nobody should buy this device kind of misses the mark in my opinion. I simply think that the pixel tablet is not good for your use cases.
  • Joshua Luther1
    I have a Lenovo M10+ that I paid $100 for that works fine for watching content on. I don’t need anything more expensive or powerful for watching videos.
  • sic0048
    A more accurate title would be, "You shouldn't buy the Pixel Tablet for $399." That is a statement that I fully support.

    However people don't need to spend full price for a Pixel Tablet right now with the trade in values being offered by Google. I was lucky enough to place my order while Google was still offering $399 back for a iPad 6th gen, so I purchased one off EBay for less than $120.

    Purchasing the Google Tablet for $120 is totally worth it. After all, it's a tablet that is unlocked and can be rooted very easily which is also going to have years of monthly OS updates and security patches. No other tablet (at any price) offers that level of flexibility and manufacturer support.