When you heard about the unveiling of Apple’s iPad, you were probably thinking, “Gee, I wish there were more of these computer/tablet hybrids out there. Why don’t more companies make them?”
Well, this week, Google has answered your pleas. In addition to Microsoft’s Surface series and Apple’s iPad Pro, we now have Google’s Pixel C. The Pixel C is Google’s first in-house computer/tablet and was unveiled earlier this week at Google’s conference, where they also unveiled a slew of new Nexus phones and an updated Chromecast.
Good news: if the Chromecast happens to be your streamer of choice, it is now faster, much more reliable and looks better.
This week, we will be taking a quick tour through the three big computer/tablet hybrids (referred to as “complets”) and will attempt to answer the question: are they worth it?
The only proper way to begin a comparison of this magnitude is to start with the reigning champ, the Microsoft Surface. Currently in its third generation, the Surface was born into this world as “the tablet to replace your laptop.” Has it succeeded in this mission? That’s a question that really depends on your laptop usage. Most owners of the Surface who I know also have a laptop for heavy -duty tasks that the Surface can’t handle. This complet runs on the Windows 8 operating system. Or, at least, it did until recently when Windows 10 was released. Either way, it banks on Windows’ cross device platform, taking the angle of being a laptop replacement. For the longest time, people considered the MacBook Air its heaviest competitor. The Surface is thinner than the Air on the whole, and it has a higher resolution screen, while having comparable processing power. It also has had the detachable keyboard and pen shtick that Apple has been vying for since near the beginning. So far, it sounds like the perfect laptop killer, right? Though it is the closest to date, this complet doesn’t quite have the same feel, leaving many wary about using it as a primary PC. The Surface Pro 3 starts at $799, but if you want better processing power and 256 gigs of storage (more comparable to a standard laptop), it will run you $1,299. Tack on another $129 for the keyboard cover.
Unfortunately, the next complet in our comparison, the iPad Pro, hasn’t been released yet, and thus we have no data to go on other than reviews posted from those who attended Apple’s unveiling event and got a chance to play with it a little.
At first glance, the iPad Pro looks like your run of the mill iPad. The difference, largely, is the bigger screen size, boosted to 12.9 inches. In addition to the screen, the Pro gets a new processor, the A9X. This one’s got a bit more heft than the standard A9 in the newest iPads on the market and will thus give the Pro some added features, namely the ability to work with the new Apple Pencil. Another advantage it gets over the standard iPad is the ability to run some apps built specifically with the iPad Pro in mind. Adobe and Microsoft have released versions of their most popular apps (Word, Powerpoint, Photoshop) that run on the Pro with full PC functionality, designed for a tablet interface. Pricing for the Pro starts at $799 for 32 gigabytes of storage, and it just goes up from there. Adding on the keyboard will garner another $169 from your wallet, and, if you really feel like splurging, the Pencil costs only $99. Aside from the iPod Shuffle, this may be the cheapest thing on Apple’s offering list. Even so, does the Shuffle still exist?
Finally, we have Google’s Pixel C. This one was just unveiled this week, so the only information we have on it is whatever specs Google has given us. It will have a 10.2 inch screen, making it the smallest of the bunch. The Pixel C, like the iPad Pro, will be running its maker’s mobile operating system, in this case the latest Android operating system, Marshmallow. That concludes what we know about the Pixel C itself. It, too, comes with a detachable keyboard that will double as a stand, so you won’t need to prop it up against anything. The Pixel C costs $499 for the 32 gigabyte version, and $599 for the 64 gigabyte version (the same storage as the base Surface Pro 3). With a $149 keyboard, Google gives you the cheapest combination of the three.
Now, is it worth it? If you are in the market for a new laptop, should you shell out for a complet? My simple answer would be no. Though they come close, none of the three are yet ready to take on the responsibility of being a full-fledged, primary PC. If you only use your computer for word processing and Facebook, then yes, any of the three will handle your needs. Anything more, and you need to take a closer look. You may find that one of them will do what you need, but more likely than not, you’ll find you still need a true laptop.
Lotfi is a member of the class of 2016.