The New Pixel Slate gives me hope for the Future of a more Productive Chrome OS

I have written a few blogs (not too recently sorry!) on PC Productivity. Chrome OS has been a definite interest of mine and I have been keeping one eye on the platform for about nearly 12 months now (since the Pixelbook’s launch in October last year, and the subsequent reviews in November).
Chrome OS has had a few rough starts with coming to more expensive and high build quality machines, but with the likes of the Chromebook Pixel, the Pixelbook and Asus’s C series ChromeOS machines, a lot can be said for trying to leverage ChromeOS against the likes of iOS and Windows.

I’m a huge Proponent for doing work on Tablets. Ever since I owned the original iPad Air, I have tried to marry a keyboard to it and get real provides done. As the years have gone by this has become exponentially easier, with various 2 in 1s, iPads Pros and a Galaxy Tab S3, I have become fairly confident in mobile productivity and how to “Get Shit Done”.

ChromeOS for me, as I’ve mentioned before, is more and more becoming a true competitor to MacOS & iOS, and Windows 10. The Android App ecosystem addition, as well as a virtual Linux Kernel, gives ChromeOS an audience just outside of users wanting a machine for Office work, Netflix or occasional gaming (note that you do need a fairly well optimized and at least a high performing single core or a decent Dual Core Intel CPU in your Chromebook to do this. 
The usage of Chromebooks in Schools in the major countries worldwide has helped ChromeOS gain a solid foundation as a student productivity tool, and with this new Pixel Slate (as well as other higher end ChromeOS laptops & tablets), Google stands to ensure ChromeOS is their mobile productivity platform of choice, and here is why.

ChromeOS is Lightweight, and modular

Google deciding to push forward with ChromeOS, rather than improve the Android Tablet experience, must have been a huge decision at Google. With Samsung having recently launched their TabS4, and Huawei pushing varying Android Tablets, this is a bit of a slap in the face for vendors still wanting to use Android as their Tablet OS backbone.
We can kind of see this happening with Linux support announced and pushed earlier this year with more refined Android App support as well.
Android phones make up a large percentage of the phone market globally with iOS not too far behind. 
Android doesn’t allow these sort of features or functionality, without third party alterations to the software like Samsung’s own Dex software or mirroring an Android tablet to a display with a Chromecast; and even that is janky at the best of times.
Android, after years of trying to be, is sadly not a tablet operating system. But for so many developers who build and maintain Android apps, ChromeOS stands to be a new home for developing and launching their apps.
ChromeOS also requires a very little amount of onboard RAM to run effectively (the average user shouldn’t need less than 4GB of Ram, but in this modern day and age, you do need 8GB of RAM in your device, especially if you want to take advantage of the OS’s more advanced features). Since most users live in a Web browser while using the OS (Which is a fully fledged desktop version of chrome, not like on iOS or Android), these can be processor intensive (thanks Chrome!),  but nothing the unit/OS cant handle or isn’t optimized for. 
Microsoft and Google stand in a similar market, selling licenses to OEMs and allowing third-party vendors to manufacture their own competitive devices, whilst building their own. This benefits the space by allowing the user choice, however, this can also come as a disappointment to certain international buyers who may want Google’s own hardware over other providers may have to purchase the units from overseas suppliers

The New Pixel Slate has a 12.3 Inch 3000×2000 Display that supports full Stylus input
(Image Courtesy of the Google Blog)

The Hardware is Flexible and can fit into Various Budgets

The newly announced Pixel Slate comes in a variety of spec flavors (these are US/Canada/UK only at this stage with US Pricing, and not confirmed for Australia):

  • Intel® Celeron processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB SSD – $599
  • Intel® Celeron processor, 8GB RAM, 64GB SSD – $699
  • Intel® Core m3 processor, 8GB RAM, 64GB SSD – $799
  • Intel® Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD – $999
  • Intel® Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD – $1599

32GB of internal storage seems paltry, so it would stand to reason that the more attractive models will sit between the $699 and the $999 USD specifications.
Even still, Chrome OS originally began life running on lower speed CPUs and Google seems confident that the tablet will perform the tasks appropriately for that spec.
Aside from pricing, CPU & RAM,  the hardware remains unchanged whatever model you choose. a 12.3 3000×2000 display with a high DPI and stylus support, 2 USB-C Ports, fast charging and a keyboard connector for the $199 dollar keyboard that Google provides (granted Brydge now also make their own version for $49 USD less). 
Google’s new Slate joins their lineup as a solid competitor on paper to the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro (both of which can be priced fairly similarly if you spec them up), and with a team fully dedicated to advancing and improving ChromeOS, the hardware we can potentially see in the next year or two could be more slates with adaptable Desktop interfaces, and can be as portable as an iPad & as powerful/versatile as a workstation. 

The hardware doesn’t also have to be in the premium price bracket as well. Acer has already displayed it’s 10 Inch Chrome OS tablet that techies aren’t too entirely impressed with. However, vendors like Acer are in a way, pioneering the space for the cheaper hardware with a similar experience for the user.
Take Android tablets 4 years ago. So many Vendors were throwing out Android slates running varying versions of the OS and different sizes and specs it was hard to keep up. All this in an attempt to compel users away from the likes of the iPad and the new Surface Tablets running Windows 8 (we SHALL NOT discuss Windows RT). 
I would hope that Google would start to leverage ChromeOS onto new tablets as they did with Android a few years ago, regardless of the hesitance to push tablets into newer users hands with the current state of technology & the longer usage cycle of tablets over phones.

Overall, I can see how ChromeOS and the new Google Hardware can definitely help entice users away from iOS and provide a scalable experience from cheap to premium and keep users engaged on their platform and when its time to upgrade, stay within the OS family; and even consider additional devices that compliment that experience like phones, streaming sticks or smart home hubs that communicate natively with the core main device. 


Sam Toohey Written by:

Sam is a self taught Developer, focusing on Web Technologies and E-Commerce. He is also an avid writer, blogger and gamer. You can commonly see Sam toying around with web technologies or working on his Podcast, Markup.

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