AI Is No Longer Just Buzzword
Google unveiled new hardware at its October 9th event in NYC but it came across that the new software that comes bundled may be even more important. Yes, the star of the show was indeed a new pair of Pixel 3 phones but since we knew almost everything about the hardware going in, I was more interested in its new features. They are looking to make everyone Google experience more individualized with the help of machine learning in every piece of hardware it sells and I came away quite impressed.
3 Colors, 2 Pixels, 1 Notch
Sufficed to say that the Pixel phones have been… know to us for quite some time now. They have leaked in many forms over the last 2 months and I’m here to tell you that everything is true. Well except for those Ultra Pixel rumors, Ha! We have 2 new Pixel 3’s one regular and one XL.
Except for the screen and battery size, they are identical in every way. Both wrapped in Gorilla Glass 5 front and back and rounded aluminum rails on the sides. These phones fell fantastic in hand, premium. The backs of the phones are now all glass instead of ⅓ but they keep the look of the previous devices with
Yes the XL does have a HUGE notch and it dips very low into the top portion of the screen. Thing is, it does not look nearly as bad in person. The 6.3” 1440P OLED panel Google is using this year is in short, amazing. Bring, colorful, and just easy on the eyes it every way so it distracts a bit from the notch. The notch is not without its usefulness since it houses a very loud and good front firing speaker, along with two 8MP selfie shooters in the regular and wide-angle variety. If you are a big phone fan, it is not a deal breaker at all. Make sure you check it in person before you decide.
The smaller one seems to be the one I see many gravitating towards, both during the show and online. This is for good reason. It has a 5.5” 1080P OLED panel that is just as beautiful as the one on the larger Pixel even if its pixel density is a bit lower. Put it next to last years Pixel 2 and you can see that every dimension, except thickness slightly, is smaller. The 5.5” screen is, in fact, a hair wider and way taller in a smaller body. It even has a 10% larger battery and feels absolutely great to use. It is the phone I have been waiting for Google to build and I’m happy to have one on hand to test. One-handed use with this phone is a dream and with the taller 18:9 aspect ratio, it fits more content on the screen. Another plus is there is no notch to deal with, for those who think its unbecoming.
Overall these phones deliver in specs, software, and performance. The only thing is that price. $799 starting price for the 3 and $899 for the XL. That’s a full $150 more for the smaller one than last year and with the same base storage of 64GB! It’s $100 more to update either to 128GBs. I for one don’t think you need to since all photos and video are uploaded to Google Photos for free in full quality, even 4K, for no cost. I do this and it makes 64GB more than enough. So unless you need your whole movie or video library without, stick to 64.
The Android Tablet Replacement
I did not spend as much time with the Pixel Slate as I wanted to but the time is did spend I came away, interested. Google first showing off new software first and for most with this new device. It is a tablet but also a full OS experience, think Surface Go. It can do a lot more than it used to but maybe not as much as a full Windows 10 Machine, at least not yet.
My favorite part was Google full adoption of Android apps on ChromeOS. It is very apparent in their new launcher when the device is not docked to their first party folio keyboard. It looks very reminiscent of an Android launcher, with Android and Chrome apps all shown in the same way. Click on either kind and it just opens and works. A feature I enjoyed was the ability to dock 2 apps in split screen to get even more work done.
As for the hardware it is solid. Feels quite premium and balanced. It has a 12.3” screen and is much easier to hold and work with than you would think, thanks to its near-perfect balance. It is 7mm thick and under 2lbs, not as light as an iPad but I was using it just fine. It has 2 far field mics for Google assistant and the fingerprint sensor built into the power button is a really nice touch. The screen at a 3000x 2000 resolution, same as many of the windows machines and that is not by accident. It looks beautiful and Google explained that
The Folio Keyboard acts as a case when it is closed on the tablet. Protecting both it and the Slate for any abrasion. Flip the keyboard down and slide the back of the cover down the back of the device to set the angle. It is all done with magnets and is a slick solution. It has a few stronger points on the back where they think you would want to position it but you can use it at any angle, This is like. It is backlit which is nice to see since many ChromeOS devices skip this. The keys are an interesting round design but it’s not just for looks, Google says it also reduces mistakes since the keys edges are not as close together. I used it and it felt good but would need more time with it to see if this is true. The trackpad is large and responsive, I could see myself getting things done on this but maybe on a desk, it’s a bit wobbly when on the lap.
Overall I do like it. The way I see it is if you want a tablet replacement, and never plan to use the keyboard, grab the lower end model with the Intel Celeron processor and 4GB of ram. It would do you just fine at $599. It’s a little pricey but less so than the largest iPad. If you plan on using it as a laptop replacement and want to get real work done, you would be better stepping up to the Core m3 8GB model for $799. Plus the $199 Keyboard and you may as well throw in the $99 pen, which was easy to use but did not play with so much. That is $1,100 and again expensive but it may be worth it. They are not up for order yet so we may need to wait a bit until we know more. I need more time with one to say for sure if it is a good buy.
The Screen Has Come Home
The Google Home Hub is a product I knew I wanted ever since I saw the Amazon Alexa with a screen. We got a taste of what that was with Lenovo’s Smart Displays earlier this year but Google version seems just a bit more up my alley. Again it all really comes down to the software that this device is running working so well with its hardware.
It has a 7” screen and it sort of floats above its base giving it a unique look and a smaller footprint at the same time. The screen is nice and the speaker is loud enough and clear enough to play some music but really I see this mostly in the kitchen. That is where I will be putting mine and will act as my sous chef. Recipes were very easy to follow and read with the new software and display. At $150 it undercuts the smaller Lenovo version so I can’t wait to use it more. Up for preorder now!
All in all the event was amazing. Great products but maybe even better software. The jury is still out on all of these until they get into the hands of users but what do you think so far? I for one am excited about the future.