Google Pixel Slate isn’t your best Chromebook bet

The thin, cleanly-designed Slate is indeed a blank slate for running a lot of apps, and connecting to a lot of accessories. That’s not a new idea, though. And it’s not even the first Chrome tablet, either: the excellent HP Chromebook X2 is the choice I’d recommend instead, since it has an included keyboard.

There’s plenty of detail to be found in this image – even in the dark interior of the stacked log shelter (click image to enlarge). As the subjects recede, though, and we move towards the back of the frame, the level of definition becomes poorer. The leaves on the floor become a general texture and the green branches towards the top of the frame take on a sketched appearance.

In the image below, for example, the trees in the background have lost a considerable degree of detail. Lighter trunks are subsumed into the background at the points where the sun crosses over them, as the EasyShare Sport metered for the logs in the foreground. Admittedly this meant that we ended up with a well exposed log pile, but even when dialling in a high level of recovery in post production we were unable to recover much of the lost information.

As I said after a week of using it, the Pixel Slate is the Mirror Universe iPad Pro. It has a full desktop-class browser and 123bet support for Bluetooth mice and keyboards with trackpads, which is great. Working on the Pixel Slate, with an optional keyboard, feels like working on a laptop.

With no half-press position on the shutter release, the Easyspare Sport doesn’t indicate when your subject is in focus, which can make it difficult to frame. This image of a mushroom, for example, lacks detail as it’s too close to the lens, despite laying around 30cm from the camera. The leaves in the background, however, are focused. Unfortunately the lens’ actual focal distance is not detailed on the Kodak site, the bundled user guide sheet or the downloadable extended user guide PDF.

View full gallery Sarah Tew/CNET Tablet as full computer: Sure, of course

Sure, Microsoft’s been offering the same solution on the Surface and on countless Windows 10 two-in-ones. Google’s Chrome solution has some advantages in a lean OS that starts fast, automatic updates, excellent Google services and Google Assistant on tap, and support for the Google Play Store and Android apps, which run to varying degrees of success on the Pixel Slate.

The lens has a focal length equivalent to 35mm in a 35mm camera. This is a good choice, putting it fairly close to the middle of the range of consumer dSLRs’ frequently-bundled 18 – 55mm kit lenses. The images’ metadata revealed them all to have been shot with a fixed aperture of f/4.5, which is a decent compromise between the wide apertures that would produce an unnaturally shallow depth of field in non-marco, 123bet non-portrait shots, and the narrower measurements that would be ideally suited to landscapes but start to impact shutter speeds.

One area we were concerned about was the battery. With only a three-cell battery, the Mini line doesn’t have a very long battery life, and even with the 3G modem turned off, the Mini 1151NR ran for only 2 hours and 30 minutes on our video file playback test, about 15 minutes less than the original HP Mini 1000. Unfortunately, a six-cell battery seems to be a requirement for extended use of a Netbook. HP offers one if you buy the Mini direct from them, but we didn’t see any way to get it as part of your Verizon order.

Or, at least, that’s how it was. The growth of tablet sales has slowed considerably in recent years, with the exception of the bargain segment. Small 8-inch Android models like the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 and Samsung Galaxy Tab A can be had for as little as $170, £129 or AU$279, and Amazon has cornered the budget market with its selection of “good enough” Fire tablets that start at prices as low as $50 or £50. (Amazon doesn’t typically sell hardware in Australia, but the US price converts to about AU$70.)

In regular use, the shutter speed can sit anywhere between 1/4 and 1/4000 of a second. This is selected by the camera as manual controls are few and far between. However, you can manually set a ‘Long Time Exposure’ in the menu (we’d prefer to have access to this directly from shooting mode) that lets you fix 0.5, 1, 2, 4 or 8 second exposures.

Other data providers, such as AT&T, are planning to offer similar packages, and the marriage of 3G with a Netbook feels like an obvious mashup of two useful technologies. While a comparably equipped HP Mini 1000 would cost $439 without the 3G antenna, or $569 with, companies such as Dell are offering largely similar Netbooks for as little as $299, making the subsidized price less appealing after you factor in roughly $1,400 in data fees. But mobile broadband data is expensive no matter how you slice it, and having anytime, anywhere Internet access on one of our favorite Netbooks is very appealing.

Category Netbook

The Mini 1151NR is virtually identical to the two HP Mini 1000 models we’ve tested. It remains one of the thinnest Netbooks available, although newer competitors, such as the Asus Eee PC 1008HA, are catching up. For frequent travelers, HP’s business side offers a slightly thicker and heavier version, called the Mini 2140, that’s built into a rugged aluminum chassis, but that’s not part of this Verizon promotion.

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