Pixel C – A love/hate story

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    Where to start? A few years ago, my old beloved Nexus 7 (2013 edition) gave up the ghost, so to speak, and I was in search of a new tablet. Mostly because of the Nexus 7, and because the Nexus 9 was being phased out (not to mention less good), I opted for a Google Pixel C tablet. 11″ screen, 4k resolution, aluminium case and matching keyboard… USB C connector… the works, and all for a mere king’s ransom of cash. What’s not to love? So, I won’t go to much into the tech specs of this device. Let’s just say it was then, by a long way, the best tablet on the market with any OS. 

    That however, is the end the good bits. The bad is… well, not so much fun.

    Firstly, it’s from Google. I don’t mean to speak about advertising policies here… I’ll leave that to others. What I mean is Google’s policy in the last few years of obsoleting anything more than 2 years old. It feels like less… I think my tablet is 18 months at the moment, but still, obsolete, and replaced with a Chromebook which is physically 3 times the size, almost twice the price and won’t fit in my bag. My Pixel C won’t be getting the next version of Android. It was supposed to be launched with 8.0, but due to 8.0 being delayed it came with 7.mumble. It will never have 9.0 – even though devices far older will.

    It has the only implementation of USB-C I’ve yet seen where orientation matters. Not for power, that’s fine, but for USB devices. Got to go in the right way or it won’t see them. It’s not the devices’ fault, or else it’d be just the one thing, and it’s not my specific tablet either, as it needed to be replaced at one point and both had the same issue. Of course it had plenty of issues early on. The replacement was due to it randomly bricking itself. Probably didn’t get to phone home often enough…

    So while I love this tablet (mostly), for it’s form factor and screen, and hate it for it’s weight and the fact that Gboard has no cursor keys (I know, I use Swiftkey for that but it doesn’t work as well with the hardware keyboard because APIs), it’s getting harder and harder to be positive about what was meant to be a flagship device. And Google themselves seem to be insistent on target practice involving their own toes.

    I’m pretty invested in the Android way at the moment but should I want a new tablet, what options do I have? Cheap-and-Nasty Amazon? Tiny-Screen Samsung? or a Chromebook? My phone, a Sony Z3 is about 4 years old, but I can’t afford to replace it since any Android phone with similar features costs upward of £400… and I know they also will be obsolete soon, already if I get anything that isn’t “this year’s shiny” – which means £600+ for an extra year of updates.

    They do seem to be trying to push people into the Apple camp. I mean they aren’t cheap either, but Apple do at least provide updates – even if they do (or did) deliberately slow down old systems to “encourage” people to buy new… Even so, notched screens notwithstanding, they are rather pretty, and one from last year might even have a headphone socket (a must-have for me since I absolutely hate bluetooth headsets).

    I’d get a feature phone, to be honest, if there was one that had 4G and could host wifi. I can’t do much on a phone screen anyway anymore with my fat fingers, and I don’t want a phablet sized one. My old Z3 was big enough thank you. If I could have that just for calls and do everything else on a tablet sharing it’s wifi, I’d be happy… perhaps I should just get a 4G-Wifi dongle-thing and do away with the phone altogether. I could then use VoIP for whenever I got a call. Perhaps it’s a better way to go.

    But Google, Google, Google… Why do you do these things? Where is a new Nexus 7 (2018)? Where is a nice small 4.5″-5″ phone? Do you want to lose customers to Apple or even dare I say it, to Microsoft? You used to be cheaper, ad-supported maybe, but cheaper… Now you are among the most expensive and still flood us with ads and data slurping.  I no longer know what to do.

    Anyway, I don’t actually believe for one minute that Apple are any better. I don’t own a modern apple device so I can’t say beyond what I read, but I used to have an iPod, and before that I worked support on Apple computers. Neither product I’d ever consider owning again after. I certainly wouldn’t want a Microsoft phone or tablet either. I shudder to think on that experience.

    So… Any thoughts? Anyone have any affordable suggestions that won’t involve signing in blood or selling souls?

     

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