iPad Pro 2018 Vs. Google Pixel Slate -- Two Serious Slabs After Six Months (Review) - Forbes

iPad Pro 2018 Vs. Google Pixel Slate -- Two Serious Slabs After Six Months (Review)  ForbesThe Pixel Slate is a solid slab of hardware. But then so is the 2018 iPad Pro.

iPad Pro 2018 Vs. Google Pixel Slate -- Two Serious Slabs After Six Months (Review) - Forbes

2018 iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard Folio.

Credit: Apple

The Pixel Slate is a solid slab of hardware. But then so is the 2018 iPad Pro. Which wins in the long run? Read on.

Review backgrounder: I've used both the 12.3-inch Pixel Slate and 12.9-inch iPad Pro for almost* six months. With the iPad Pro, I use Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio. With the Slate, I use Google's Slate keyboard. Both also serve as protective covers.

specs: Intel 8th Gen Core i5-8200Y processor, 8GB of memory, 128GB SSD, and 12.3-inch "Molecular Display" (3,000-by-2,000 pixels, 293 ).

specs: A12X Bionic processor, 4GB of memory, 256GB flash drive, and 12.9-inch display (2732-by-2048-pixels, 264 ppi).

The : 

The Pixel Slate, released in October, works well as a laptop because of an excellent optional full-sized backlit keyboard with trackpad (see images) and because of Chrome OS, which is closer to a desktop OS than Apple's iOS.

For the same reason (iOS), the iPad Pro, released in November, is a better tablet. Though, after 6 months, I'm more comfortable using it as a laptop stand-in than I was when I reviewed it initially.

Design:  

  • The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is (amazingly) only 1.4 pounds. The Pixel Slate, at 1.6 pounds is heavier and feels heavier than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. That said, the Pixel Slate is lighter than the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (1.7 pounds).
  • The Slate looks somewhat generic, i.e., it didn't get the attention to aesthetic-detail that iPad Pro got (or the Pixel 3/Pixel 3 XL for that matter).

OS:

  • Chrome OS is what all operating systems should aspire to in 2019 and beyond. That is, it strikes a good balance between a mobile and a desktop OS. One of its best perks (for me) is, it runs Android Apps. Also, it requires only modest hardware to run fast (e.g., low-power Intel Core processors with 8GB of memory and a 128GB solid-state drive). But like a desktop OS, it does floating (overlapping) windows and runs popular desktop applications like Microsoft Office.
  • iOS is a more polished tablet OS. Apple has been working hard to improve iOS on the iPad since the tablet debuted in 2010 and it shows. Also: iOS runs blazingly fast on Apple's A12X Bionic processor, which almost makes up for its lack of a trackpad/pointing device and inability to run multiple floating windows.

iPad Pro (left) and Pixel Slate.

Credit: Brooke Crothers

Laptop mode: 

  • Pixel Slate: the slate wins as a laptop replacement. Many critical  apps simply work better with a keyboard/trackpad and pointing device. The bottom line is, Chrome OS running on the Slate with the keyboard can be used as a full-time laptop replacement as long as you're not wedded to applications that can only be run on Windows or the Mac.
  • iPad Pro: I am updating my initial impressions of the iPad Pro as laptop stand-in, i.e., I view it more favorably now. I can use the iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio as a full-time laptop if I'm in moderate productivity mode. That means I can go days (and I have) without using a laptop. It's when I need to do heavy-duty productivity that I have to ditch the iPad and pick up a laptop. Another thing I've learned from long-term use: if you're willing to devote the time to learn/tolerate some of the quirks of iOS on the iPad and the workarounds, over time it gets easier and easier to use as laptop stand-in.

Battery life:

  • Both offer good battery life but the iPad Pro wins here. Both easily go all day. You can stretch the Slate to a day and a half.  The iPad Pro can go for a couple of days (moderate use on and off use over the course of each day). But what I really like about the iPad Pro is the standby mode (when it's idle). It uses remarkably little battery. It can sit for an entire day in idle and the power needle has hardly moved.  That's not the case for the Slate -- though it's better than the typical Windows laptop at retaining battery when idle.

Pixel Slate with Pixel Slate Keyboard.

Credit: Google

Other:

  • Speakers/sound: both the iPad Pro and Pixel Slate have great speakers with good bass and mid-range. It's a draw.
  • Display: both displays are outstanding and extremely bright. I'll call it a draw.
  • The fingerprint sensor on the Slate is a big plus over the Pixelbook, which lacks biometric authentication. The iPad Pro's Face ID (no fingerprint ID on the iPad Pro) works well too.
  • On your lap: Resting the Pixel Slate with the keyboard on my lap is fine except when I switch positions and try to use it on one leg. Then it becomes awkward/unbalanced because it doesn't have a hard hinge but uses a flexible, soft material as a "hinge." The iPad Pro doesn't have that problem because of the stiff hinge. 

Price: 

Pixel Slate with config stated at top is $999. Add the Slate keyboard and it's another $199. The iPad Pro with config shown at top is $1,149 (mine also has 4G/LTE, which hikes the price to $1,299). The Smart Keyboard Folio is $199.

Verdict: 

The Pixel Slate is the better laptop than the iPad Pro but the iPad is a better laptop substitute than I originally thought.  The iPad wins as a standalone tablet.

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NOTES:

*Six months in May.