Google Pixel tablet is coming, but it might not be what you expected

Google is finally making a tablet again, but what it revealed could have some questioning whether it should.

Normally, you wouldn’t put “Google” and “tablet” on the same sentence unless you put “doesn’t like” somewhere in between. Although Android tablets have existed for as long as the iPad has, its existence hasn’t exactly been one filled with love from its creator. It wouldn’t be until more than a decade later that Google would finally put its weight on making the Android tablet experience better, but even then, it hasn’t proven its commitment by coming out with a tablet of its own making. At this year’s Google I/O conference, the company finally made that promise, but the supposedly premium Pixel tablet that’s coming next year has left some wondering if Google is trying to pull a fast one instead.

Designer: Google

A Rocky Start

Android’s history with tablets has been anything but smooth. The first devices, particularly those from Samsung, had extremely customized user experiences because Android itself didn’t have the necessary bits to support running on large screens. When Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” came out in 2011, it brought rudimentary support for tablets, but thanks to some lukewarm reception from Google and app developers, those never really stuck that much. The Android tablet market itself was like a roller coaster ride in terms of profits and popularity, but the experience itself was far removed from “standard” Android as it could be, at least until now.

Whether it’s the resounding success of the iPad Pro or events of the past two years, Google seems to have become more invested in making Android work better on larger screens, which includes tablets naturally. But while it is refining the software and the operating system to be a better fit for slates, it felt like there was still a piece missing from its commitment, like hardware that would prove it’s really going all in. That’s finally coming next year, but it might not be what many have hoped.

Pixel Slate Redux

It’s not that Google has never made tablets, Android or otherwise. It actually launched at least four Android tablets under the old Nexus brand and two under the newer Pixel name. The Pixel C was the last Android tablet that had been made by Google, and the Pixel Slate was the first and last Chrome OS tablet it ever launched. In both cases, it felt like Google made half-hearted attempts to appease tablet fans, but there was no follow-up, nor was there long-term interest and support from the manufacturer.

That’s why it’s rather surprising that Google is giving into expectations and announcing that it’s making another tablet. Based on reports and quotes from Google’s own hardware chief Rick Osterloh, this tablet will be a perfect match for the Pixel phone and be a premium contender in the tablet market. Based on the glimpses that were shown during the keynote presentation, however, there might be some confusion on what the exec actually meant.

The tablet that was shown there had rather thick bezels all around. Its profile was also thick, and the material on its back looked like matte plastic. The general design bore no resemblance to any Pixel phone, which made it feel like the black sheep of the family. To put it bluntly, its design looks dated and unappealing by today’s standards, not exactly the best first step you’d expect for Google’s comeback to the Android tablet market.

Expectations versus Reality

Compare that to what fans and market watchers have imagined Google’s next tablet would look like. One recent concept, in particular, actually tried to follow Google’s design language while also extending it a bit further for a modern tablet. Bezels, for example, are considerably thin, with only a punch-hole cutout for the front camera.

Designer: Giuseppe Spinelli (Snoreyn) via LetsGoDigital

The design didn’t have room for a camera on its back, but it’s not difficult to imagine it would be placed somewhere in the middle. The slightly curved back employs a dual-tone color and material scheme, just like all Pixel phones so far. The middle part that encloses the Google “G” logo seems to be made of glass, and it’s surrounded by a matte-like material, probably frosted AG glass. Comparing the concept art from what Google teased is like comparing two different worlds, and it probably doesn’t take too much thinking to know which one would appeal better to people in 2023.

The post Google Pixel tablet is coming, but it might not be what you expected first appeared on Yanko Design.

The Pixel Tablet is coming in 2023

Google's last tablet was the ill-fated Pixel slate, a device that was widely criticized — so much so that in 2019, Google said it wouldn't make tablets anymore. In classic fashion, though, the company is changing its tune. Today as part of its hardware presentation at Google I/O 2022, Google teased the Pixel Tablet, a premium Android-powered device that's set to arrive sometime in 2023. 

As this product is months away from being released, Google is only giving us a scant few details right now. Rick Osterloh, Google's SVP of devices and services, said that the Pixel Tablet is a "premium" device that will run on the company's custom Tensor chips, just like the latest Pixel phones. What we haven't heard is how much it'll cost, how big the screen is or when it will be released. We can say that, based on the renders we saw, it looks a bit like someone just took the screen off a Nest Hub.

Naturally, the new tablet will run Google's version of Android specifically built for larger screens, an initiative that's been in the works for a while now. Historically, the big knock against Android tablets is that the software never feels like it's built for the bigger screen, and that apps aren't optimized to use this bigger view. Even with changes made to Android to support larger screens, it doesn't necessarily mean developers will build their apps to take advantage of that space. 

But Osterloh told reporters in a briefing ahead of I/O that Google has clearly heard that users want a larger-screen Pixel experience to compliment their phones — so the company is at least seeing some level of consumer demand for such a device. Whether that leads into market adoption is another question entirely, as neither Chrome OS nor Android tablets ever caught on in a significant way. Samsung has had some success with its Galaxy Tab line and Amazon's budget lineup of Fire tablets have both stuck around, but Apple's iPad remains dominant. 

Given that this device won't be out until sometime in 2023, it's far too early to predict if Google has learned from its past mistakes in the tablet arena. But the company made a commitment at I/O to rebuild more than 20 of its apps for large-screen devices, and huge developers like Facebook, TikTok and Zoom are on board as well. If more third-party developers get on board by the time the Pixel Tablet arrives, it could have a shot at redefining what we think of when it comes to premium Android tablets.

Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2022 right here!

Samsung Display teases a future filled with foldable and slidable devices

We are so dependent on screens and displays these days, even just for looking at content. Most of the things we need to see every day are often displayed on computer monitors, TVs, and our phones. With more content and more data coming into our lives, it’s almost like we can’t have enough screens around us. In the somewhat distant future, every surface might indeed have a display, an interactive display even, but there are still plenty of technological and psychological hurdles before we get there. In the meantime, Samsung is more than happy to fill our world today with screens that can fold, roll, or even slide in order to give us as much display real estate as we need without forcing us to carry large backpacks or briefcases just to fit a 12-inch tablet.

Designer: Samsung

It isn’t time yet for a new foldable phone, but it’s Display Week 2022 in sunny San Jose, California, and Samsung isn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to show off what it has been cooking behind closed doors. Then again, some of these aren’t particularly new to our eyes, given how they’ve been prefigured by patents and even revealed by Samsung a few months ago. And given how these are already on display for the public to see, they’re more likely to arrive in the next few years rather than the next decades.

Fold it Your Way

Foldable phones are no longer alien to us now, but they’re still novel enough to be seen with some suspicion and apprehension. As marvelous as these may be from an engineering point of view, we’ve barely scratched the surface. Earlier this year, Samsung showed off its Flex G and Flex S foldable screens in action, and this week it’s reminding everyone who will listen to what these flexible displays can offer, presuming they actually become products.

The Flex G, for example, can either be a large screen that folds down twice into a more bag-friendly form, or it could be a makeshift laptop, with one-third of the screen as the keyboard and the other two-thirds for the display. The Flex S, on the other hand, can fold in opposite directions, forming a Z or S shape, and it’s easy enough to imagine it as a phone that transforms into a true tablet or vice versa. Both designs have been spotted before, both in patents and in prototypes, but Samsung might be more confident now to move forward and bring these displays to commercial products.

Let it Slide

The newest member of its gallery, however, is its “slidable” screens. Technically a combination of a sliding mechanism and a rollable display, this technology allows a device to expand its screen space without drastically changing the form of the device. A phone, for example, can remain a phone while its top slide out to show a bit more content. Given how tall smartphones are these days, that’s not exactly a big leap in form factors.

Similarly, an 8.1-inch tablet that suddenly has its sides slide out to expand to a 12.4-inch screen won’t drastically change the way you use the device. You just have more space for content or possibly more apps side-by-side. This kind of shape-shifting device might be a bit more approachable to consumers compared to foldables since it doesn’t require them to switch between modes or mindsets. Whether these are more robust than folding screens, however, remains to be seen.

For the Rest of Us

Truth be told, only a small fraction of today’s smartphone-using population has embraced foldables. There are a variety of reasons to hold off from those, with durability and price being the strongest deterrents. Until Samsung and other manufacturers have sufficiently addressed those concerns, foldables, rollables, slidables, and other -able displays will remain novelties and luxuries that could eventually die off as fads.

Of course, Samsung hasn’t completely forgotten about common people and has a few of its more normal but more usable innovations also on display, no pun intended. Amusingly, its latest QD-Display technology also stands as a testament to how technology, marketing, and even design go back and forth like a pendulum. The display market swings between LCD and OLED technologies every so often, sometimes with different marketing names and tweaks like MicroLED and Quantum Dots, in an attempt to get buyers’ attention and money. Samsung’s QD-Display TVs and monitors are just about to roll out to the public, so we’ll see soon enough what that buzz is all about.

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Apple’s 2021 iPad mini falls to a new all-time low of $400

Apple's latest iPad mini has been on sale for a little under a year, but we've seen numerous price reductions on the (almost) pocketable slate. Having hovered around the $459 price point in recent times, Amazon has now discounted the 64GB iPad Mini further, bringing it down to a new all-time low of $400. That's $99 off the original price or a savings of 20 percent.

Buy 2021 Apple iPad Mini (64GB) at Amazon - $400Buy 2021 Apple iPad Mini (256GB) at Amazon - $540

If you're looking for a bit more storage, Amazon has also reduced the 256GB model, which now costs $540. That means you'll save $109 or 17 percent compared to the retailer's list price.

The 2021 iPad mini received a score of 89 in our review, gaining marks for its "all-screen" design without the home button its predecessors have. It has a Liquid Retina 326ppi panel with a 2,266 x 1,488 resolution. The tablet's edges are flat, and also sports a TouchID-capable power button, dropping the Lightning port for USB-C charging.

The slate features a new 12-megapixel ultra-wide front camera with Center Stage support, which like Facebook's Portal devices will automatically pan and zoom to keep you at the center of the screen during video calls. 

Thanks to the A15 Bionic chip powering the tablet, it was also able to handle we threw at it. It typically lasts up to 12 hours between charges and it also supports the second-gen Apple Pencil so you can use it for doodling or note-taking while on the go.

Apple’s 10.2-inch iPad drops to an all-time low of $290

You'll want to act quickly if you've been looking for a frill-free tablet. Amazon is selling Apple's latest 10.2-inch iPad (that is, the 2021 model) at an all-time low price of $290 after an instant checkout coupon. This only applies to the 64GB WiFi model in silver, and you'll have to wait until early May for delivery. If those aren't obstacles, however, this is an exceptional deal that beats some of the bargains we've seen for past models.

Buy Apple iPad at Amazon - $290

The 10.2-inch iPad remains alluring thanks to its sheer value for money. It's fast for the price, offers a solid screen and lasts a long time on battery. On this newest model, the wide-angle camera with Center Stage is particularly useful — it's easier to fit more of your household into the frame during a video call, even if they're in the background. Toss in the upgraded base storage, a robust app ecosystem and iPadOS 15's better multitasking and you might not need more than this.

The same issues still apply, of course. This iPad design now feels old compared to newer models like the iPad Air and iPad mini. You won't get those tablets' thinner bezels, faster processors and improved cameras. There's no support for the Magic Keyboard or second-generation Pencil, for that matter. However, there's a real chance you don't need those extras — the 10.2-inch iPad is still a very capable device for gaming, reading, video viewing and many other everyday tasks.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Apple’s 10.2-inch iPad is down to $309 right now

For a few days now, Amazon has offered a $50 discount on the 256GB model of Apple's 10.2-inch iPad, allowing you to purchase the tablet for $429. But if all you wanted to do was buy the less expensive base model, you’ve been out of luck until now. As of this weekend, you can purchase the 64GB variant for $309, down from $329, from both Amazon and Walmart. That’s the best discount of the year on Apple’s entry-level tablet. Just note that Amazon is only offering the silver colorway at that price, while you can get both the silver and space gray models for $309 from Walmart.

Buy 10.2-inch iPad at Amazon - $309Buy 10.2-inch iPad at Walmart

We gave the ninth generation iPad a score of 86 in 2021. Yes, it features a tired design that Apple hasn’t updated in years, but there’s still a lot to like about the tablet. It’s a solid performer with Apple’s in-house A13 Bionic chip powering everything, including the updated 12-megapixel wide-angle camera that comes with the company’s “Center Stage” feature for improved video calling. Battery life is also solid, with the tablet capable of going 10-plus hours on a single charge.

The main drawbacks of the 10.2-inch iPad are that it doesn’t come with a USB-C port and that you’re stuck using the first-generation Apple Pencil – which you charge by connecting it to the tablet’s Lightning port. That said, if all you need is a device for browsing the web, reading and watching video content, it’s hard to go wrong with the 10.2-inch iPad.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Apple’s 2021 iPad mini falls back to an all-time low of $459 at Amazon

The latest WiFi-only iPad mini in space gray has been on sale for $459 at Amazon since the beginning of March, but if you'd rather get one of the tablet's other color options, here's your chance to grab it at a discount. For the first time ever, the iPad mini in Starlight is now also available for $459, which is an all-time low for the device on the e-commerce website. The purple version is now also back on sale for the same price, or $40 lower than retail. 

Buy 2021 Apple iPad Mini at Amazon - $459

We gave the 2021 iPad mini a score of 89 in our review, praising it for its fresh "all-screen" design without the home button its predecessors have. It has a Liquid Retina 326ppi panel with a 2,266 x 1,488 resolution. The tablet's edges are flat, and it features a TouchID-capable power button and a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port. We felt like we were using a smaller version of the iPad Air when we tested it out. 

We also praised the device for its improved cameras, including its new 12-megapixel ultra wide front camera with Center Stage support. That's the Apple feature that automatically pans a device's camera and zooms it as needed to keep the user on screen during video calls. The tablet's 12-megapixel rear wide camera is better than its predecessor's, as well. 

Thanks to the A15 Bionic chip powering the tablet, it was also able to handle everything we tried during our test, running games, videos and other types of apps quickly and smoothly. We also appreciated that the tablet lasted for 12 hours during our testing before it needed to be plugged in. And, yes, it works with the second-gen Apple Pencil so you can use it for your art or your note-taking needs.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Apple may release its next iPad Pro this fall

Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman expects Apple will release its next-generation iPad Pro sometime this fall. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman says he anticipates the new tablet will feature MagSafe inductive charging and Apple’s long-rumored but as yet unannounced M2 chip, corroborating a previous report from 9to5Mac.

As of the company’s most recent hardware event, the iPad Air and iPad Pro both feature M1 chips. Apple last updated the iPad Pro in 2021 to add 5G and Thunderbolt connectivity, and its first-generation Apple Silicon system-on-a-chip. The iPad Pro has more or less featured the same design since 2018 when the company refreshed the tablet to give its now-iconic edge-to-edge display. Since then, Apple has filtered out that design to most of its other tablets, including the iPad mini and the aforementioned iPad Air.

Details on the M2 remain sparse, but as of last April, it had reportedly gone into production. Most reports suggest the M2 will feature the same eight-core CPU layout as its predecessor while being faster and more efficient thanks to TSMC’s new 4-nanometer fabrication process.

Google is reportedly planning a Nest Hub that features a detachable tablet

Google is working on a new Nest Hub with a removable tablet that's due to be released in 2022, according to a report from 9to5Google. The screen could be detached from the hub/speaker base, then presumably be used like any other tablet. The idea would make a lot of sense in terms of boosting Nest functionality, especially since Google recently made the 2nd-gen Nest screen more tablet-like with a new shortcut launcher for web apps and games. 

It's not yet clear which operating system the device would run, as the 2nd-gen Nest Hub runs the lightweight Google Cast system, and the original Nest Hub was recently updated to Google's mysterious Fuchsia OS. However, a detachable tablet would likely have the most functionality with Android. As 9to5Google points out, Lenovo offers an Android tablet that docks to a speaker bar, runs Alexa and sells for $270. 

The latest 2nd-gen Nest Hub ($100) and Nest Hub Max ($230) come with 7-inch and 10-inch screens, respectively. Both offer features like sleep tracking, media playback and, of course, control of connected home devices. The Nest Hub Max also comes with a camera that allows for video calls (Duo only) and lets you use it as a Nest camera. The new Nest Hub with a detachable tablet will reportedly launch in 2022, but until it's official, take this rumor with a megadose of salt. 

The best tablets you can buy

While tablets don’t always get the same level of attention as smartphones or laptops, they’ve become an increasingly important category of devices for many families – particularly with the recent shift to working and learning from home. Their straightforward designs make them easy to use, while improvements to Windows 11 and iPadOS allow many tablets to pull double-duty as part-time productivity devices.

However, there are a lot of options out there, so it can be difficult to pick the right one. So allow us to go over the most important factors you should consider, followed by our top picks across a range of categories and prices.

Which OS is right for me?

Before you even start looking at specific devices, consider how your new tablet will fit in with the gadgets you already own, and how you plan to use it. For example, if everyone in your house uses Macs and iPhones, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to buy an Android tablet, even if you’ve been tempted by the massive 14.6-inch screen on the new Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. This goes double for anyone with an extensive library of purchased videos and music that might be harder to access after switching platforms.

Another consideration is the kind of work you’ll be doing. That’s because while all modern tablets are adept at browsing websites or playing games, some operating systems like iPadOS and Windows 11 are better designed to support multitasking and productivity than Android or even Chrome OS. It’s a similar situation for software, because while most popular apps and games are available on both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, more specialized enterprise software may only have proper support on desktop platforms like Windows or macOS.

What size screen should I get?

Trying to decide the size of your tablet is also related to the kind of work (or play) you intend to do. Larger displays make it much easier to view two apps side by side, with big screens also delivering a more immersive movie viewing experience. But at the same time, the larger the tablet, the less likely you’re going to want to move it around. That means you’re not only going to want to take stock of your workspace (i.e., if you have a desk or instead plan to work from a couch or even your bed), you’re also going to want to think about how the device will fit into your everyday routine or commute (if you have one).

Potential accessories

Finally, you’ll want to consider any add-ons or accessories you’re planning to use, which can range from detachable keyboards to things like external mics or a stylus. The good news is that many tablets nowadays offer some kind of keyboard accessory, which allows the device to function more like a 2-in-1 instead of simply being a content consumption device. Some tablets also feature things like microSD card slots that support expandable storage, or optional 4G or 5G connectivity, which can be a real boon to frequent travelers. And if you’re planning to use the tablet mainly for work, you might want to grab a USB hub for connecting all your favorite peripherals.

Engadget picks

Best overall: Apple iPad Pro

Apple iPad Pro (2021) review
Chris Velazco/Engadget

Powered by the same M1 chips you get in Apple’s MacBooks, the iPad Pro is one of the fastest and most well-built tablets you can buy today. It’s available in two sizes (11 and 12.9 inches) and works with a range of accessories including the Apple Pencil and the extremely useful (but pricey) Magic Keyboard. And thanks to their 120Hz ProMotion mini-LED displays, the iPad Pro’s screen boasts strong brightness and fluid visuals, regardless of whether you’re watching a movie or creating a slideshow presentation. Recent versions of iPadOS have also made Apple’s most premium tablet a much more capable work device, with the addition of new sidebars for quickly switching between apps, a more powerful desktop-like UI for Safari, and various new toolbars throughout.

The main downside is that starting at $800 for a base 11-inch model with 128GB of storage, Apple’s iPad Pros aren’t cheap, and that’s before you tack on any extras like cellular connectivity or a keyboard. But considering there’s a good chance a new iPad Pro is more powerful than your current laptop, there isn’t really anything you can throw at Apple’s top-of-the-line tablet it can’t handle.

One final note is that if you like the iPad Pro but want something a bit more affordable, there’s also the fifth-gen iPad Air. You still get the same M1 chip, Apple Pencil support, and optional 5G connectivity. And with a 10.9-inch screen, it’s basically the same size as the smaller iPad Pro too. The main difference is that the iPad Air’s display isn’t quite as bright and doesn’t support a 120Hz refresh rate. But if you’re ok with that, the fifth-gen iPad Air is essentially an iPad Pro with a less fancy screen that starts at $599 instead of $799.

Buy iPad Pro at Amazon starting at $800

Best Android tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

The Galaxy Tab S8+ is Samsung's latest 12.4-inch tablet for 2022.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Available in three sizes – an 11-, 12.4- and a huge 14.6-inch model – Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S8 line has the right-sized screen for practically any need. And while Android typically isn’t quite as accommodating to productivity as Windows or iPadOS, Samsung’s Dex mode offers a desktop-like UI complete with multi-window support and a taskbar for potent multitasking.

Samsung’s mobile displays are also some of the best in the business, with support for 120Hz refresh rates and vibrant colors from their OLED panels. And unlike Samsung’s flagship phone line, the Galaxy Tab S8 still comes with microSD card support, though sadly, Samsung couldn’t seem to find room for a dedicated headphone jack. You even get a choice of three different covers: a simple folio, a keyboard cover and a keyboard cover with a built-in touchpad, so you can choose the right accessory for your needs.

Buy Galaxy Tab S8 at Samsung starting at $700

Best Windows tablet: Microsoft Surface Pro 8

The Surface Pro 8 boasts even thinner bezels and improved performance compared to previous models.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

While most people think of Microsoft’s Surface Pro devices as a line of 2-in-1s, because they don’t come with a keyboard (you need to purchase it separately), that technically makes them tablets. But don’t be fooled, because thanks Windows 11 and support for a range of 11th-gen Intel processors, Microsoft’s Surface Pros are designed for productivity.

New on the Surface Pro 8 is a beautiful display with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and improved stereo speakers, while the inclusion of an IR facial recognition camera allows you to log in to the system in a snap. Another nice bonus is that unlike a lot of tablets, the Surface Pro 8’s SSD is user accessible, allowing you to upgrade its storage yourself whenever you want. And thanks to improvements in Windows 11, the Surface Pro 8 is better suited to life as a tablet without ever needing to attach a keyboard thanks to larger app icons and more touch-friendly controls.

Buy Surface Pro 8 at Microsoft starting at $1,000

Best budget tablet: Apple 10.2-inch iPad

Apple iPad (2021) review photos
Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

If you just want a simple tablet for a reasonable price, it’s hard to go wrong with the standard Apple iPad. Starting at $329, the basic iPad has a 10.2-inch display with good brightness (500 nits) and a relatively speedy A13 Bionic chip. It’s also the last iPad that still features an old-school Touch ID home button.

After being refreshed last year, the ninth-gen iPad got updated features including Apple Pencil support, improved cameras (in front and back) and double the base storage (64GB, up from 32GB). And just like its more expensive siblings, the standard iPad is available in a WiFi-only model or with optional 4G LTE cellular connectivity. The basic iPad is also the cheapest device Apple sells that gives you access to the App Store, which makes it a good multimedia device and a handy way of managing your media library across your other Apple devices.

Buy 10.2-inch iPad at Amazon starting at $329

Best tablet for kids: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro

While the tablet itself is the same as the non-kids version, the Fire HD 10 Kids comes with a two-year worry-free guarantee and a chunky protective case.

If you’re in the market for a new tablet for your child, the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro is the easy pick. Starting at $200, it's the cheapest tablet on this list, and unlike more adult-oriented fare, it comes with an included “kid-proof” case and a two-year warranty. Amazon says if your kid breaks the tablet, the company will replace it for free.

Other useful add-ins include a free one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, which unlocks more than 20,000 games, books and apps designed for children. There’s also a handy dashboard for parents that allows you to set time limits, content filters and educational goals. And even though its 3GB of RAM and 32GB of base storage aren’t much, its 1080p display is plenty sharp and it has a microSD card slot for expandable storage. And if you want a slightly smaller and more affordable option, there’s the $140 Fire HD 8 Kids Pro too.

Buy Fire HD 10 Kids Pro at Amazon - $200