Thursday, May 30, 2024

A new Google Pixel Tablet is coming, but it’s not what you think


Google Pixel Tablet on its charging dock.Joe Maring / Digital Trends

It’s been almost a year since the Google Pixel Tablet went up for preorder, leading many Android tablet fans to wonder when the inevitable Pixel Tablet 2 will arrive. A new rumor suggests that Google could release a new Pixel Tablet as early as next month, but it’s probably not what you were expecting or hoping for.

According to @MysteryLupin on X (formerly Twitter), Google is planning to “relaunch” the Pixel Tablet without the charging/speaker dock included in the box. As you’ll likely recall, the speaker dock is the Pixel Tablet’s standout feature. You can use the Pixel Tablet on its own as a traditional Android tablet when you want, and when you’re done, you throw it on the dock to transform it into a smart display. The idea of Google selling the Pixel Tablet without its claim to fame is an interesting one.

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The current iteration of the Pixel Tablet (with the speaker dock included) retails for $499, with additional docks available for $129 a pop. A Pixel Tablet sans dock would presumably be much cheaper, potentially retailing for around $370 or $350.


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Is this really what the Pixel Tablet needs?

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

On the one hand, I get this strategy. Chances are Google has a lot of excess Pixel Tablets it needs to get rid of, and with this move, the company could repackage the tablet, promote it as something new, and sell it at a lower price. Win, win, win — right?

While it might make sense from a business perspective, I don’t see the appeal for you and me. Let’s say the Pixel Tablet relaunches for $350 without the dock. While a good deal cheaper than the current $499 Pixel Tablet, that’s still more expensive than the 9th-generation iPad (which retails for $329) and considerably more than the excellent Amazon Fire Max 11 (which is available for $230).

And it’s not just a price thing. Unfortunately for Google, the Pixel Tablet is remarkably unremarkable as a standalone Android tablet. The screen doesn’t get very bright, its Tensor G2 chipset is underpowered and heats up easily, and its battery life is mediocre. Sure, you would still have the option of turning it into a smart display with the optional $129 speaker dock, but at that point, why not just buy a Nest Hub for $99?

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Putting a cheaper Pixel Tablet on virtual and physical store shelves has a certain appeal, but it does nothing to solve the Pixel Tablet’s problems. It’s still a generic Android tablet, Google Assistant remains just as unreliable of a digital assistant as ever before, and even with a $100 or more discount, the Pixel Tablet would still be overpriced for what it is.

The leaker also notes that Google is planning to release a “Pen and Bluetooth Keyboard” at the same time as the dock-less Pixel Tablet relaunch, with both accessories reportedly retailing for 100 euros each. That’s potentially interesting, but for context, Amazon’s Productivity Bundle for the Fire Max 11 — which includes a keyboard case and a stylus — retails for about $350 combined. If Google’s new goal here is to deliver a compelling Android tablet value, it’s still missing the boat.

It’s unclear when this “new” Pixel Tablet is coming, but it’s safe to say we’ll hear something at Google I/O next month. In other words, we shouldn’t have much longer to wait to see what does (or doesn’t) happen here. At least from where I’m standing, I’m not sure where this is supposed to go.

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