Chrome OS devices aren’t just for kids anymore.
Chromebooks have caught on in schools, and it’s easy to see why. The devices are inexpensive, durable and easy to maintain.
But Chrome devices are going upscale. Earlier this week HP introduced its Chromebook x360 14, which features a convertible hinge and 14-inch display.
Now Google has joined the fray. Yesterday the company introduced a device it says offers desktop performance on a slate form factor. Called the Google Pixel Slate, the new Chrome device features a 12.3-inch touchscreen, power from an 8th Gen Intel Core processor, and a whole lot more.
Under the hood
The new Google Pixel Slate is light and thin: 1.6 lb and 7 mm (0.27 inch). Yet it packs two front-facing speakers, two 8-megapixel cameras (one on the front, the other on the back), up to 16GB of memory and up to 256GB of storage. Processor choices include the 8th Gen Intel Core m3, i5 and i7, or an Intel Celeron.
Google Pixel Slate, with & without optional keyboard and pen
Google Assistant is built in, so users can use voice commands to ask questions, set reminders, play music and control smart-home devices. The new Pixel Slate is designed to work well with other Google home devices such as the Home Mini. And it features the regular desktop version of the Chrome browser, so users don’t have to suffer with mobile versions of websites.
There’s also a keyboard and pen, and both sell separately. The Slate Keyboard is full size and backlit; it will retail for $200. The Pixelbook Pen, introduced last year, will retail for $100.
Speaking of prices, the Pixel Slate itself isn’t cheap, with retail prices starting at $600. This isn’t kid stuff.
New phone, home display
The Pixel 3 is a high-end phone, with retail prices starting at $800. Google insists the camera is superior, and it’s teaming with professional photographers — including well-known portrait shooter Annie Liebovitz — to demonstrate that. The new phone also uses AI to screen phone calls, get information, even suggest how to handle certain types of data. Here's a look:
The other new device, Google Home Hub, is a smart-home display with a 7-inch screen, and it will retail for $150. Google Assistant is built in, so the device can be controlled with voice commands. To address privacy concerns, Google has pointedly not included a camera.
So is Google becoming a serious hardware supplier?
The short answer is, not yet. As today’s Wall Street Journal points out, Google still gets most of its revenue from advertising.
Market watchers expect Google’s hardware revenue to hit $5.2 billion this year, up from $3.3 billion last year, the Journal reports. Sounds good, right? But that figure would still represent less than 5% of Google’s revenue from advertising this year, which is expected to come in at a whopping $116 billion.
Similarly, Google has so far been unable to make much of a dent in the smartphone business. Yes, it’s Android mobile OS dominates, accounting for 85% of all smartphones, according to IDC. But last year, Google sold only 3.9 million phones, according to IDC estimates, a tiny percentage of the 1.5 billion devices shipped worldwide that year.
Nonetheless, Google is clearly serious about hardware. If your customers are open to Chrome OS and a slate form factor, yet need a system that offers real desktop power, Google's new Pixel Slate could be the solution.