I have been vocal on here about how bad android tablets were. But I did have some hope in what Google could accomplish with Chrome Tablets. Devices like the Acer Chrome Tablet, HP Chromebook x2, and Pixel Slate offered promise. Unfortunately, Google could not get the software right, something that kept android tablets from being a device worth buying. Now there are reports that Google will end their (Chrome) Tablet line. Here is why I think Google may be reacting too soon.
Chrome OS continues to evolve and improve, but there are still some obvious issues. And these issues are magnified even more when it is used as a tablet. The first major issue has to do with apps. When you buy a Chrome Tablet or Chromebook, you have access to a number of awesome android apps. Unfortunately those apps do not work as well in tablet mode. This is Google continuing to show their Achilles heel in being able to get android apps to work well on tablets. As a result, the chrome (app) version looks and work better than the apps in the Play store, even for Google Apps (Play Movies, Play Music,etc).
Another issue with Chrome Tablets and Chromebooks have to do with how apps handle files.
One of the reasons I will recommend Chrome Tablets and Chromebooks over the iPad (Pro) is the ability to expand the storage. With a SD card, I can add more storage to my Chrome device to handle files on the go. Unfortunately, many apps are not able to access those files whether on the internal or external hard drive. This to me has to be the most frustrating thing about a Chrome Tablet and Chromebook.
So if a person wanted to use an app like Power Director, which work great on the Chrome Tablet and Chromebook, they can not access files from an external hard drive or external SD card. So those wanting to edit video will either have to move the files on to the the internal storage or cloud. This issue literally limits the power and usability of a Chromebook. So if you are trying to get some work done on a plane, or somewhere that you can’t access the cloud, you may find your Chromebook or Chrome Tablet useless. So the benefit of having a SD card slot had been nullified.
The software in tablet mode is just buggy
Google has had years to figure this out, and for whatever reason they haven’t. The software in tablet mode, for Chrome Tablets, is just buggy. Force closures, lag, apps freezing, these are some of the issues that plague the Chrome Tablet. I can’t understand for the life of me why Google fails to get Chrome and Android (software they own) to play well together. This is likely why Google has thrown their hand up and are looking toward the future with folding devices. But I think Chrome Tablets need a little more time and patience.
I personally own 3 Chrome devices (if you do not include my Chromecast), and I enjoy using it. My latest addition, the Chromebook x2 I picked up off of Swappa, have overtaken my Macbook Pro as my go to device. If I have to do something like video editing, or some photoshop stuff, I am picking up the Mac. But for everything else, my chromebook is what I gravitate to. Ironic in that a year ago I criticized Chrome Tablets heavily. Funny that the complaints I had a year ago still remains.
But for getting things done I prefer Chrome OS. And frankly, I think there may still be potential in where this device can go. But then again, Google may have tried everything and could not get it to work. So being close to the project, Google may have seen that there just is no way to make it work.
Now that Google has thrown in the towel, it may be a great time to snag a Pixel Slate. I chose both the Chromebook x2 and Acer Chrome Tablet because they were priced right. I felt a year ago that Google were out of their minds pricing a Chrome tablet above $500. I’m sorry, but no matter how nice the display, no Chromebook/Tablet is worth paying MacBook like prices. Chromebooks and Chrome Tablets need to stay in the sub $500 range. At least until Google fixes Chrome OS.
I waited until the prices dropped by about 50% before I bought my current Chrome devices. And at the sub $400 price range, these devices are solid. My HP Chromebook x2 has become my work computer, Samsung Chromebook Plus my makeshift night stand TV, and my Acer Chrome Tablet as a tablet for reading (ie Bible for church).
If Google would have priced that Google Slate just right, it would have gotten a little more love. Google played themselves thinking they were Apple, and got embarrassed. Apple’s iPad Pro, despite not having a SD card slot, can work well with Apple Apps, can be used for offline work, can use internal (and now external) storage to edit videos and photos, and has been proven to be worth the buy. Though I personally would not pay $700+ for an iPad Pro, I respect that it at least give you what you pay for. The Pixel Slate was not a good buy, and no one was able to truly recommend it at the asking price. But cut the cost by 30-50% and it quickly become a nice niche device.
The reality is that Google seems to want to avoid being the manufacturer of cheap devices. They are wanting to get Apple like money for Pixel devices, but don’t want to put Apple like hardware and software that justifies the cost. This has been my criticism for years about Google, and I hope this is a sign of change.
But for those, like me, not wanting to spend $700 on a tablet with no internal storage, and they know what they are getting into with Chrome OS, snagging one of these Chrome Tablets at around $300 or so is a steal. As a “chromebook”, where you are not looking to use a lot of apps from the Play store, these Chrome Tablets and Chromebooks are solid devices. They are speedy, updates quickly (and often), and just works. And if Stadia turns out to be what Google advertise, a tablet for playing Stadia games on.