When I moved to a new home last year, I decided to evict my TV from my bedroom and keep all my viewing in the living room, out of a vague sense that watching before bed might be disrupting my ability to get a good night’s sleep. Instead, I’ve learned that nothing helps me fall asleep like watching TV, and the drama-infused chatter of Love Is Blind works better than any white-noise machine or podcast. I had been considering a small TV to put on my dresser. Then Google sent me their new Pixel Tablet.
On paper, the Pixel Tablet isn’t a one-to-one replacement for a TV. But unlike most tablets, it comes with an accompanying charging dock with a built-in speaker. That means when it’s docked, the device shifts from tablet to hub. You can do the regular stuff you’d expect from a smart home hub, like manage your devices, or set reminders and alarms with Google Assistant, or even have your photos running on the screen as a digital picture frame.
But the most surprising thing is that it’s actually quite a good TV. The 10.9-inch screen is pretty small for viewing action blockbusters or shows that require attention to detail, but I don’t watch those before bed anyway. Since the Pixel is on my nightstand, it’s closer to my face, so its 2,560-by-1,600 resolution provides plenty of pixels for viewing a sitcom (New Girl is my go-to), and I don’t have to worry about fumbling for a remote any time I need to rewind or pause; I just tap the screen and I’m good to go. Thanks to the dock’s speaker and its surprisingly good sound quality, I get better sound out of the Pixel than most tablet speakers are capable of, all without needing to pair it to a Bluetooth speaker that’ll take up more space or require extra charging since the dock is already plugged in.
For better or worse, the Pixel isn’t really built for productivity. At $500, it’s in the same price range as an iPad Air, which is better for getting work done thanks to stylus and keyboard support. You can also get a decent 32-inch 4K TV for around the same price, but no other tablet hits the all-in-one mark of smart display, TV, and tablet quite like the Pixel. Even though I’m solidly in the Apple ecosystem, the Pixel has worked well for me: I don’t want my messages flooding my screen as I’m watching a movie, and I don’t need to have my to-do list staring me down from my nightstand, so I don’t worry about not having the same apps on the Pixel as I have on my phone or iPad.
Since it’s not built for productivity, the Pixel hasn’t replaced my more powerful iPad Pro, which is what I use to get most of my after-hours writing done, or even my news-dedicated iPad Mini that’s way smaller and lighter. Instead, it’s taken on a role in my life that I didn’t know I needed: a device with more capabilities than a TV, but that’s still tailored towards entertainment and light management rather than full productivity.
Just by pulling the tablet from its dock, I can go from watching a show to settling an argument with a friend about whether or not that guy on screen was actually in another show or not. I can also use it to make sure I don’t have any early morning meetings before getting back to the season finale of Foundation. I could do all the administrative tasks from my phone and use a small, non-smart TV to play videos. But I don’t need a big screen to binge-watch King of the Hill on a sick day, and with all the space I save thanks to the Pixel dock’s smaller base, I can keep a plant and e-reader on my nightstand while my dresser remains free of a bright screen that spends most of its time off. Plus, I’ve actually been able to fall — and stay — asleep.
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