With the rumors pointing to an imminent release, Google's non-Nexus 2015 tablet, the Pixel C, is starting to cause a stir. With benchmarks results leaking that point to an incredibly powerful tablet, buyers should be lining up, credit cards in hand, for the first available chance to buy one of these weird tablet/laptop hybrids. But we all know this isn't going to happen. Here's why the best new tablet on Android won't really sell.
The Pixel C is a 10.2-inch tablet that docks into an optional magnetic keyboard, which charges wirelessly when the USB Type-C power cable is connected. The display, which has the same aspect ratio as a sheet of A4 paper, has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,800 pixels, resulting in an acceptable but far from super-crisp 307 ppi.
Despite looking and sounding an awful lot like the Chromebook Pixel, the Pixel C runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, not Chrome OS. The good news is, it's powered by the ridiculously good Nvidia Tegra X1 chipset – the world's first mobile teraflop processor.
The Tegra X1 is an octa-core, 64-bit configuration with 256 GPU cores using Nvidia's Maxwell architecture. It features four ARM A57 cores and anther four A53 cores. The whole thing is backed up by 3 GB of RAM and should be capable of rivaling consoles in terms of graphics processing power while at the same time being incredibly power efficient.
Why will nobody buy it?
Because this is Google. Apart from the complete lack of advertising, Google is in the business of building reference devices for developers to showcase the very best of its Android platform, not of making lots of money from hardware.
While the Pixel C wasn't marketed as a Nexus, in many ways it is. But it's also a hybrid Chromebook, borrowing the look of one with the experience of the other. It's an odd choice for a device with this much computing power that Google wouldn't drop an extra gigabyte of RAM in the mix to make it even more beast-like. But again, this is Google.
So who is the Pixel C for?
Good question. With a hefty US$499 price tag for the 32 GB version and US$599 for the 64 GB version, along with the optional US$149 magnetic keyboard, this is no cheap tablet. It seems to be all about high-end productivity in a highly mobile environment, but it's not targeted at the iPad Pro demographic of designers and artists either.
The Pixel C has pretty insane specs but it's not being targeted at the Nvidia Shield's gamer crowd. Nor is it directed at the regular Android tablet crowd. In fact, it isn't really being targeted at anyone. In typical Google fashion, it just is. Like the early days of Nexus devices, it will have its die-hard fans but Google won't go out of its way to promote it to any particular market or user-type.
This will mean the Pixel C, with its relatively high price tag, half Chromebook, half Nexus makeup and no obvious reason for being, will likely languish, unnoticed, in the dark recesses of the Play Store. Perhaps it will sell enough to justify making a Pixel C2, or it might simply exist to answer Google's questions about transformer tablets.
On the other hand, the Pixel C might just herald something more significant for the future of convertible Nexus tablets and Chromebooks. Only time will tell how we look back on this device in years to come – as a harbinger of change or a one-off oddity – but suffice to say, it's highly unlikely to be noticed in its own time.
What are your thoughts on the Pixel C? What do you think Google is up to?