Google's Pixel C versus the Microsoft Surface 3 - It ain't pretty

Besides announcing some interesting new phones, Android also revealed their forthcoming Pixel C tablet. The Pixel C is not made by any third party OEMs and is instead made in-house by Google. However, the device won't be out until towards the end of the year, and not all the details are out about the hardware.

Needless to say that when you look you are likely seeing another Surface clone. The Pixel C is a 10-inch tablet with an optional keyboard, and that is not where the similarities end. The good news for Microsoft is that the Pixel C seems like a stretch of a device when compared to the Surface 3.

Let's compare.

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CategorySurface 3Pixel C
OSWindows 10 PersonalAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow
Display10.8-inch ClearType (1920x1280)10.2-inch (2560x1800)
Pixels per inch214 ppi307 ppi
Weight1.41 lb (641g)unknown
ProcessorIntel Quad Core AtomNVIDIA Tegra X1
GPUIntel Gen 8 Broadwell GraphicsNVIDIA Maxwell GPU
RAM2 or 4GB3GB
NetworkWi-Fi, BluetoothWi-Fi, Bluetooth
LTEOptionalNo
KeyboardOptional, $129Optional, $149
Backlit keysYesYes
Storage64 or 128 GB32 or 64GB
Expandable StorageYes, micro SDNo
PortsFull USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPortUSB Type-C
PenOptional, $49No
Camera3.5 MP FFC; 8.0 MP RearFront and rear
Price$499, $599, $699$499 or $599

Like Google's $1000 Chromebook Pixel it is hard to imagine why anyone would pick a Pixel C over a Surface 3. With the Surface, you are getting a full-fledged computer with an optional pen and more options for the same price.

If you max out to the $699 Surface 3, you get more RAM, more storage, more expansion, likely better cameras and even LTE support.

Even Microsoft's Type Cover is $20 cheaper, and the keys are backlit.

The Pixel C seems like a continued novelty device for Google's Android OS. Diehards may want one, and it may even be a fun accessory, but it pales when compared to the Surface 3.

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

309 Comments
  • I'm enjoying how the world is embracing "Surface-style" devices. The surface was such a great concept when it was originally announced, then the pricing came out and it was a non-starter. Getting rid of RT was the best thing they ever did with this line.
  • Lol at this comp though.
  • Congratulations Panos. You're a ledge.
  • I hope Panos Panay is responsible for the design of Surface phone.
  • nope hopefully no surface phones
  • Intel-based Windows 10 phones will be made (see the article on this site about leaked codenames), and they're probably will be named Surface Phone.
  • I actually liked RT, if the 3 series came wit RT I would had gotten one of those aswell when i upgraded from my first gen, fits my needs with a OS i enjoy, plus it shaved some off the pricing.
    And RT is seriously perfect for the oldie and tech-challenged people (Like my mum or GF) Just wish they woulda called it "mobile" or "lite" right at the start instead of RT (I mean, wtf is "RT"?)
  • I still use my RT everyday, and I agree with you 110% that they confused the hell out of consumers with the RT emblem attached to it. All they needed to call it was Windows 8.1 Mobile edition. or Windows 10 mobile (i wish)
  • Windows 10 Mobile is already there! :D
  • They can't use the word "mobile", as that implies "mobile phone". Half the people kept calling Windows Phone as Windows Mobile (as it used to be called, and is called once again) so it would be a world of confusion.
  • But there will be small tablets with Windows 10 Mobile. So they can and will use the word mobile for other devices.
  • Mobile will work as tablets are just as portable.
  • I agree. The 2520 fits all my needs...and it's very attractive. Another name other than RT would have been better. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yep! it was a nice working, clean, stable and solid security from malware and "ignorance" os... Too bad public ignorance killed it. But truely, as good as it was... I had no use for it when I got my dell venue 8. It was a small tablet for fun and so much more... Had office... And just didn't come with outlook like the rt did...
  • RT = runtime.
  • Exactly what i have been thinking of. "lite" is perfect Imo. Windows 10 and universal apps with proper pricing would have made it a great product, though i still think Microsoft is working on it by the info that devices smaller than 8" will be sporting Windows 10 mobile but they should produce one as a leading example for OEMs.
  • RT would have been a great idea on a mobile phone for enterprise. On a tablet its nonsese, and the same for that google thing. Its not even fair to compete x86 with ARM.
  • IMO, Windows RT should had been Windows with Safe Mode enabled by default!. No 3rd party drivers, no unsigned legacy apps are allowed to be installed and no deep system files access. With an option to disable all of that, but only after you go through so much hassle. I'd rather go through that hassle every time any member of my family wants to install an app than having to clean install windows because someone '"promised" free candy crush coins on YouTube.
  • The world is embracing the surface, but the surface didn't embrace the world. Maybe now people in the world will be able to buy, use and understand this new kind of devices, because if it was just Microsoft's, only a handful of countries would ever experience this.
  • And I was one of the unlucky ones who bough the first generation surface rt. Can't believe I paid that much for one.
    After going through 2 broken window 2 in 1s (asus t100 and dell venue 11 pro), I have an asus t200 which is slow and I hardly use because I have a MacBook pro for college now.
    I see a lot of people taking notes with a surface, I kind of want one just for that but I don't know if it is worth it. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android on my Oneplus One
  • "Surface-style" as a concept is like saying Apple invented smartphones. Slates, as HP initially called those full-featured tablet-like PCs, have been there for years, way before Surface was even a prototype...
  • You might want to check your history there. Tablets existed long before the HP Slate came along. Many companies (including Apple and MS) had devices in the 90's and early 2000's. Compaq had the first true hybrid device (detachable keyboard) the TC1000. HP aquired Compaq but they didn't invent tablets/slates themselves. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablet_computer#Early_devices
  • And there's no kickstand on the Pixel C...! What the heck!?  PS: Isn't this like the 4th or 5th Surface clone?
  • I think so.   One from Lenovo, Apple, and now Google. Wasnt there one from HP and Dell as well? Surface devices as a viable form factor confirmed!
  • The fact that it doesn't have a kickstand makes it hard to even CALL it a Surface clone. It's just another tablet with a keyboard, and there have been plenty of those before the Surface even came along.
  • Exactly. Can't really see why Daniel called it that. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • It's very similar to the Surface, besides the OS.
  • How? Has a screen and detachable keyboard? So does every hybrdi 2 in one. :)
  • It's almost the same... except for just about every single spec, the market segment it's targeting, and the OS! But everything else is almost the same.
  • It doesn't have a kickstand because it has a significantly better design. How are you trying to pretend that's a bad thing? Whatever you think of the Pixel, it will be much better in your lap because it will sit like a proper laptop.
  • lol, k
  • Did you even see a video of it in action? It's equally moveable like the kickstand on the SP3. Please, let me know how it's not better.   Edit: I like how I got a downvote for pointing out literal fact. The Pixel C moves on a hinge. 
  • No. And a flat keyboard. And with Android. Instant fail. No need to be a fanboy to see/deny that.
  • A flat keyboard would be every single Surface and laptop. What are you talking about? It appears you're implying that the Pixel's keyboard is bad because it is flat (like all keyboards on all devices)?
  • I believe what he is referring to is the angle on the S3 keyboard  due to flip up magnetic connection.
  • No, when you attach the keyboard to a S3/SP3, the magnetic strip connects it to the lower part of the screen, making it elevated. Which makes it a lot more comfortable to write on then on conventional attachable tablet keyboards and even most laptops.
  • But it doesn't work well on your lap. On a table it is nice, but the kickstand thing doesn't work well otherwise. The Pixel C is definitely a superior design. Especially since it tucks away and doesn't require charging or extra ports. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Ok but doesnt mean the flat keyboard on your lap with the Pixel C will be better. Cant knock one thing without mentioning pro and cons of the other. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • That's true, I think when we start getting some real world reviews we'll see how the keyboard will fare under varying conditions. I'm optimistically cautious that Google would have thought about ergonomics.
  • Surface Pro 3 owner here. It works well on my laps. You are welcome.
  • Doesn't even have a trackpad dude. What "good design" are you talking about here??
  • It doesn't need a trackpad as it actually is designed to be a tablet. Touch is the primary input method instead of merely an afterthought. It is kind of the opposite of the Surface. The Pixel C is a great tablet and can kinda be a laptop while the Surface is a nice laptop and can kinda pass as a tablet. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • It may have a hinge but it is not better because the hinge is part of the keyboard.  You can't have the tablet stand by itself like you can on the Surface.  That to me is a worse design and not a better one.
  • The keyboard is optional. Putting a hinge on the keyboard makes the "stand" feature an add-on. You can do that to virtually any tablet. Hence, not a better design.
  • Well, it's a bluetooth keyboard with the charge coming from the tablet. We'll have to see how much that effects battery life. I also don't see the weight mentioned anywhere. The hinge mechanism looks interesting. I haven't seen it in action on anyone's lap. I have a feeling that if you tilt it back the way you would on a normal laptop, it will still flip over.
  • They said the keyboard will last months on a charge. It won't affect battery life and it only charges while it is being used as a cover. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Not equally. I think it is 100-135 degrees. Anyway, put it on your lap, tap the top of the screen to close a tab, have fun picking up you new device from the floor.    
  • In the video it isn't clear to me the keyboard also functions as a cover. And it still begs the question of it's off the tablet separate from the keyboard without a kickstand. As well, nearly every spec the surface came out on top. As well, the surface can install Chrome, the only reason to run Android besides apps.
  • The device is just bad all around. Period. It's cooked before it even gets into the lap. So, there.