Review of the Google Pixel Slate, Keyboard and Pen

person holding the Google Pixel Slate near the water.

In this article we bring you information on a device that is great for both work and play. It’s lightweight, portable, sleek and versatile and one of the things we travel with on our van life adventures. Keep reading to learn more about our review of the Google Pixel Slate.

What is the Google Pixel Slate?

photo of a person using the Google Pixel Slate.
The Google Pixel Slate is a tablet that can quickly become a laptop.

One of the things people seem to ask when they see me carrying this around is whether it’s a laptop or a computer or a tablet or something else. And the answer is … the Google Pixel Slate is sort of all of these things. Technically, right out of the box, the Pixel Slate is a tablet. But you can easily add a keyboard to make it into a laptop (more on that below) or traditional computer.

Specs on the Google Pixel Slate

Size and Weight

photo of the Google Pixel Slate in a persons hand.
The white button on the side of the Google Pixel Slate is the fingerprint sensor which unlocks the device.

This tablet is 1.6 pounds and only .3 inches thick. It doubles in thickness (.6 inches) when you add the Pixel Slate Keyboard/case. The screen is 12.3 inches.

Molecular Display

This is a fancy way of saying that you’re going to have a stunning picture to look at. Why? 293 pixels per inch. That boils down to 6 million pixels on the screen. Which is just another fancy way of saying that your movies and photographs are going to look super sharp and clear. Oh and the tablet itself comes in a really attractive, eye-catching midnight blue.

Duo Cam

There’s a camera on this thing? Yep. Actually, there are two cameras on the device. Both of them are 8 megapixel cameras with a wide angle lens so you can capture landscapes or photos of you and a group of your friends. While this isn’t the first or second device we’d choose to take photos, we do like that the camera exists as an option.

Pixel Imprint

Want an easy way to access your Pixel Slate without having to type in a password? Look no further than the Pixel Imprint which is a small rectangular shaped button on the side of the device (it’s on the top left hand edge if you’re using the keyboard). Once you ‘teach’ your device your fingerprint (or give access to anyone else you want to be able to use it) then you literally just have to put your finger on the imprint and your device will be ready to use.

Google Play + Google Assistant

This device works with Google Play Store and all of the Android apps that you already know and use. Once you sign in with your Google account it’s fairly easy to find what apps you already use and install them on your Slate. In addition to having access to all of your apps, you’ve also got the Google Assistant ready to help you with basic tasks such as setting an alarm, setting a reminder, checking traffic, even playing music for you. Plus the Chrome OS is already on the device as is a number of helpful and handy Google apps that you probably are already using.


I’m about to dive into the Pixel Slate Keyboard next but for those of you don’t want to purchase anything extra, the screen of the Slate actually can double as a keyboard. There are a few tricks to using the touchpad that will make life a little easier.

To see what windows you have open, swipe up.

To change tabs, swipe either left or right.

The AC adapter aka The Charger

Your device comes with a boxy, white charger with a cord that’s long enough to work almost anywhere you want to plug in (read: coffee shops with outlets that are far from the table.) The cord itself is made with two USB-C ports so either end can go into either the Slate or the charger.

USB-C Ports

There are two USB-C Ports, one on each side. There’s an adapter in the box for those of you that want to listen to music on headphones with a traditional audio jack.

Google Pixel Slate Accessories

Google Pixel Slate Keyboard

The Pixel Slate Keyboard is definitely an accessory that we recommend if you are going to get the Pixel Slate. For starters, the Pixel Slate Keyboard makes the tablet a lot more user friendly (read: fast) in that you have an actual keyboard on which to type. The keyboard also actually acts like a lightweight case. It’s not super thick, so for those of you that like minimal design, you’re in luck. But it does give you a barrier between you and the coffee table you’re working on. It also doesn’t add much weight which is great if you plan on commuting with it on a regular basis. Who wants to carry more than they need to. Lastly, connecting the keyboard and tablet is super easy. You literally line the two pieces up (look for the four gold circles on each device) and they snap together. No charging or pairing (thank God) is required. My favorite part of this design, however, is the magnetic strip that allows the Pixel Slate to ‘sit up’ while you type and then collapse when you are done.

Google Pixelbook Pen

photo of a person using the Google Pixel Slate and Pen
The pen is both functional and fun to use.

Another cool and useful accessory for the Slate is the Pixelbook Pen. Don’t be misled by the name. This pen works with both the Pixelbook as well as the Slate. It requires one AAAA battery (one is included in the box) and comes in two colors, black and white. The Pixelbook Pen works with your Google Assistant (just hold down the single button and / or circle something). It’s handy for taking notes, drawing, marking up documents or photos or just browsing the internet without a mouse or trackpad. We use it most when we are editing photos in Lightroom as it gives you superior control. Lastly, I just like the way it feels in my hand. It’s fun to use and even though my hand is small, I feel like I have good control over it as well as the image I am editing.

Why the Google Pixel Slate is Great for Van Life Travel

pulling the Google Pixel Slate out of a backpack in a van
The Google Pixel Slate is great for van life travel and is one of the most used pieces of gear we own.

Editing Photos

These devices are great for camper van life travel because they so many different functions and capabilities. As we mentioned above, one of the main things we use the Pixel Slate for is editing photos in Lightroom. You have a good bit of control with the track pad but you also have superior control with the stylus. Both help us quickly edit images, upload them for clients, publish them on the internet, and use them in social media.

Watching Netflix

When we’re traveling in our van, we often will go weeks at a time without watching anything on a TV. And when I say TV I really mean Netflix or HBO or a movie that we’ve downloaded because we don’t actually own a TV. Instead we watch shows and listen to podcasts on the Slate. You can download individual apps or also to go Google Play’s Movie & TV app. If you know you’re going to be without wifi for a while you can even download things you know you’ll want to watch later and then watch them even when you’re offline. The value of watching a movie while it rains outside and you’re snuggled under the sleeping bag in your van cannot be understated.

Battery Life

When traveling, keeping devices charged is a constant task. Though we’ve got a Jackery Explorer 500 portable power station that we can use to get our batteries recharged, we require devices that can hold a charge. The Google Pixel Slate is one such device. The battery can last up to nearly 10 hours of continuous use.

Compact and Lightweight

Van life travelers know that anything you put into the van must be worth the space you sacrifice. The Slate is both compact and lightweight enough to make a strong case for bringing it with you on the road.


One of the first things I did when testing out this device was open up Spotify and play music. I did it without headphones and the sound was excellent. If you’re out in the middle of nowhere and you want to have a dance party, open up the Pixel Slate, prop it up using the keyboard and turn the music up. It’s the perfect little portable jukebox. Sound travels at camp so don’t be that annoying person and turn your music up all the way.

Works with the Pixel Phones

photo of the Google Pixel Slate and Google Pixel 3XL
Tether the Google Pixel Slate and Google Pixel phone when you have LTE but not wifi.

One of the coolest things about the Pixel Slate is that it works with our Google Pixel Phones. What I mean by that is that when we don’t have a good wifi signal but we have an LTE connection, we can access the internet on the Slate by tethering it to our phone. This is super useful in van life if you don’t have a wifi hotspot but you have a cell signal. It’ll also keep you from having to go into a coffee shop or restaurant because you can literally work from your van. Or in the park. Or at the beach. You follow?

Is the Google Pixel Slate for me?

woman typing on the Google Pixel Slate in a van.
The Google Pixel Slate is a great for van life because it can be used for both work and play.

Do you want a versatile device that can be used for work or play?

Are you a van life traveler or do you travel frequently?

Do you watch a lot of TV and movies?

Are you a photographer who likes / needs to edit their work?

Are you an artist who wants a digital tool for creating new work?

If you want answered yes to any of the questions above this might be the right device for you.

Review of the Google Pixel Slate Recap

If you’re in the market for a device that is lightweight, versatile (good for work and play), and is fun to use, the Pixel Slate by Google might just be the perfect device for you. It’s a perfect piece of gear for the van lifer or weekend road tripper and has become a valuable tool for us when we’re traveling. It’s currently for sale and starts at 599 bucks.

#giftfromgoogle #PixelSlate #madebygoogle

Got questions? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below!

Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

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