If we’ve learned anything from 2018, it’s that Google is really bad at keeping secrets. The company just had its annual hardware unveiling, and all three of its new devices leaked repeatedly in the lead-up to the event. No matter, we have all the official details and availability info now. There are new Pixel phones, a smart display, and a new Chrome OS tablet. They look like nice devices, but Google’s pricing is getting a little out of hand.
Google Home Hub
Google started talking about Assistant on smart displays earlier this year, but it was not the first company to launch such a device. Both Lenovo and JBL have released their own smart displays, but Google’s is a bit different.
The Home Hub has a 7-inch touch screen, but you can interact with it entirely by voice. Like other Google Home devices, you can shout “Hey Google” to wake it up. Unlike those speakers, the Hub has a display to show you useful information. Some commands (like changing the brightness of smart lights) produces an on-screen control to make further adjustments. It can also bring up contextual info like commute times.
Google opted not to put a camera on the Home Hub at all, whereas other smart displays do have that feature for video calling. Google says it wanted to make this a device people were comfortable putting in all areas of the home. It also added some custom software trick you don’t have on other Assistant smart displays. For example, you can have your Google Photos uploads automatically shown on the Hub like a fancy photo frame. There’s also a new “Home View” UI that gives a quick overview of your smart home hardware.
The Home Hub is the cheapest device Google announced today at $150, and you can pre-order it now.
Google has backed off on Android tablets, but it’s going all-in with Chrome OS tablets. The first such device is the Pixel Slate. It runs Chrome OS with an emphasis on the ever-evolving tablet UI already available on convertible Chromebooks. It will also run Android apps and Linux software out of the box. There is an optional keyboard case for the Slate, but it costs extra.
The Slate has a custom “molecular display,” which is an LCD with a resolution of 3000 x 2000 and 400 nits of brightness. It has dual front-facing speakers, but there’s no headphone jack. Instead, it has dual Type-C ports like the Pixelbook. Inside, you have your choice of an Intel Celeron, M3, Core i5, or Core i7 with 4, 8, or 16GB of RAM. Storage is 32, 64, 128, or 256GB.
This tablet is a bit more like a 2-in-1 computer than it is a mobile tablet. It weighs 1.6 pounds, and it runs the full desktop Chrome OS when you connect a keyboard. The price is also more in-line with a high-end computer than an iPad. The base mode Celeron starts at $599. The M3 is $799, the i5 is $999, and i7 is $1599. Across all SKUs, the keyboard case is a $150 add-on. This device will launch in a few weeks, but you can join a waitlist on the Google Store.
Pixel 3 and 3 XL
This is what everyone really wanted to see: Google’s latest Pixel phones. There were rumors of a secret third phone, but of course, that was nonsense. The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch display, and the 3 XL has a 6.3-inch form factor. Both phones have high-end specs including a Snapdragon 845, 4GB of RAM, and 64 or 128GB of storage.
Both phones also have a single rear-facing 12.2MP camera and dual front-facing 8MP cameras. The dual front cameras are just for wide-angle selfies, but Google has a ton of camera software tricks. The Pixel cameras were already amazing, but Google promises improved low-light performance, smart digital zoom, and photo corrections that can help you get the perfect shot even if you pressed the shutter at the wrong time.
The smaller Pixel 3 is a big step up from last year’s Pixel 2. It has a taller 18:9 screen ratio, meaning smaller bezels and more display in the same footprint. The 2160 x 1080 OLED panel has HDR support, and the battery clocks in at 2,915mAh.
The Pixel 3 XL is the latest phone to adopt the super-trendy screen notch popularized by the iPhone X last year. It’s a huge notch in this case to make room for the dual cameras. There’s also a prominent “chin” at the bottom of the phone. It’s not the most attractive phone I’ve ever seen. The display has a resolution of 2960×1440, and it’s also OLED. The battery has a larger 3.450mAh capacity.
The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are available unlocked for all carriers from Google, but Verizon also sells the phones directly. These phones are more expensive than last year’s Pixels. The Pixel 3 starts at $799, and the 3 XL is $899. Add $100 more if you want the 128GB versions. Google and Verizon both offer monthly payment plans. Google’s custom wireless charging stand for the phones is another $80.
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