Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I’ve given up with the Google Pixel Tablet. Or, to be more precise, I’ve given up trying to make it something it’s not and instead concentrate on its strengths that I enjoy.

I have always thought this confused product should do more or be better than it actually is. But by forgetting all about such things, I’ve found a way to live happily with the Pixel Tablet.

What made me give up?

A person holding the Google Pixel Tablet.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Because of the things I like about the Pixel Tablet, I’ve always wanted to do more with it. I initially set about seeing if it could serve as a laptop alternative when I’m out and about, and while it technically can, the lack of an official keyboard case hurts it. I cobbled together a setup with a third-party case (because Google’s case is stupidly expensive) and a keyboard I like, but it couldn’t match the brilliant — and much cheaper — Amazon Fire Max 11

This was obviously pushing the Pixel Tablet too much, so I have been using it around the house instead, sticking to the tried-and-tested tablet formula. The stand sits in my kitchen, and I use Google Assistant for general tasks like timers, information, music, and video requests. Unfortunately, Google Assistant has a bit of a hearing problem, and I have to raise my voice to make it hear and understand. Most of the time, it gets things right, but it also makes odd decisions when I ask for music from a particular artist, such as choosing cover versions or live versions rather than the standard main music video on YouTube.

The Pixel Tablet with a Keychron K3 keyboard, on a bench.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

But in a situation worthy of a subpar sitcom, Amazon’s Alexa came to visit, and everything went wrong for Google Assistant and the Pixel Tablet. I put an old first-generation Echo Show 5 in my living room, and it hears my requests every time when I speak at a fairly normal level from a different room — unlike Google Assistant, that’s a couple of meters away from me. Alexa is friendlier, more fun, and even whispers when I whisper to it. Google Assistant just can’t keep up, and I don’t find its mistakes endearing at all.

Alexa works much more consistently across other devices, too, to the point where I have replaced my old Nest speaker with an Echo Pop in my office. Google Assistant regularly refuses to just “play Classic FM” when I ask and goes to YouTube for a random classic music mix instead. Alexa, on the other hand, has never got my request wrong. I’m not asking much of either smart speaker, so I’ll pick the one that hears and understands me, which, unfortunately, isn’t often the Pixel Tablet.

Remove and forget

The Google Pixel Tablet on its stand, showing the speaker section.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I still try to get something more from the Pixel Tablet though. I like the size and weight of the tablet portion, so I take it around the house and use it for social apps and reading. It’s fine for both, provided there’s a decent Android app available for what you want to do, but the Tensor G2 processor’s performance isn’t as smooth as my 2020 Apple iPad Pro, so I often choose that if I must have a screen larger than the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

I began using the Pixel Tablet less. I then had some work done in my kitchen, which generated quite a lot of dust, so I put the slate and speaker in a cupboard out of harm’s way. That’s where it stayed for a few weeks, as I simply forgot about it. Alexa helped out with timers, my Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses work so well for music when I’m doing other things, and because the tablet isn’t that good for other tasks, it was a case of out-of-sight and out-of-mind.

Then, I suddenly missed it. I took it out of its temporary hibernation, set it back up in its spot in the kitchen, and made a vow. I promised not to try to make it something it’s not and simply enjoy the things it is really good at. Despite the way I’ve started this story, there are things about the Pixel Tablet I like very much.

What I still like about the Pixel Tablet

A video playing on the Google Pixel Tablet.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

When I use the Pixel Tablet on its helpful, perfectly angled stand for music and video, it always comes into its own. The audio may not have masses of bass, but it has more than enough volume and works really well for either spoken word or music that emphasizes vocals — particularly when it’s in the corner of a modestly sized room.

The audio is matched by the beautiful 10.1-inch, 2560 x 1600 pixel screen, and although the 500 nit brightness doesn’t sound much, it’s fine for inside the house. It’s also sharp and colorful, and I enjoy watching videos on it. However, I rarely ask Google Assistant to find videos or even use the operating system. Instead, I cast what I want to see from my iPhone or Android phone, which says a lot about the experience of using a touchscreen keyboard when the tablet is attached to the stand.

When it’s not playing videos, it shows photos from my Google Photos account and looks brilliant doing it. While Google’s algorithm doesn’t mix up the photos very well (meaning I end up seeing the same ones over and over), I still love seeing them on the large screen; it brightens up my kitchen and my day. It’s when I’m using the Pixel Tablet like this that I really like it, and I’m prepared to put up with Google Assistant’s less-than-ideal listening skills when I feel this way about it.

But why buy it?

The back of the Google Pixel Tablet.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I missed the Pixel Tablet when it took a brief hiatus, but now it’s back in place, I won’t be trying anything new or expecting it to be something it’s not anymore. I want to like it, so I’ll stick with what works. The trouble is, what works just isn’t enough for an expensive tablet.

The stand is a masterstroke, as without it, the Pixel Tablet’s strengths would be entirely lost on me. But then I just question why I’d choose it over the considerably cheaper Nest Hub Max. The answer is I wouldn’t, now that I know where the Pixel Tablet’s strengths really lie. The even more problematic answer for Google is that I may choose the Amazon Echo Show 10 or Echo Show 15 over the pair of them.

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