Closing the tablet is awkward. Beyond the sliding keyboard, closing the tablet is a slightly annoying experience: You either have to use two hands to push the folded back part of the case back, so that it’s flush with the tablet, and then drop it down onto the keyboard, or you drop it down first and then try to push the back part closed. If you do that part second, though, the strong magnets can force the tablet out of its case, causing you to have to reopen the case, reconnect the tablet, then close again.

All the different ways you’re supposed to be able to use the Slate.
All the different ways you’re supposed to be able to use the Slate.
Image: Google

And when you flip the keyboard back behind the device to turn it into an upright tablet, flipping the keyboard back around will take the back of the case with it (as they connect magnetically), and then the case invariably falls off of the tablet. I kept dropping the tablet when trying to match the positions in Google’s marketing images, prompting my colleague from the other side of my desk cluster to call out, “Is everything OK over there?”

The circular keys are weird and quiet. Google’s decision to make the keys on the Slate’s keyboard round is an odd one stylistically. It’s also a little unnerving to have no audible feedback when typing, given there’s barely any tactile feedback on the mushy keys either, leaving you feeling like you’re typing into a void.

It’s clunky. The Slate weighs about 0.6 pounds more than the iPad Pro, and the bezels around the edge of the display make the screen feel smaller than it is.

It’s costly. Google chose to follow Microsoft’s pricing model for the Slate. The base model starts at $599 (not including the $200 keyboard case), but the options for the most powerful versions (featuring Intel i5 and i7 processors) start at $999 and $1,599.

It has a weird double life. The Slate acts like a Chromebook when docked in the keyboard case, and a pseudo-Android tablet when not. In reality, all that really changes is that you can rearrange and resize app windows when it’s docked, whereas every app loads fullscreen when it’s in tablet mode. There’s also a desktop that seems to serve absolutely no purpose when the device is in laptop mode.

Should you get one?

I really can’t see a reason to pick up one of these. Even at the basest price, there are touchscreen Chromebook laptops that can do everything the Slate can (albeit likely in a chunkier package) that don’t feel nearly as awkward to use. And if you’re really in the market for a high-power tablet, Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro 6 does a better job of being a portable computer. And if you’re just in the market for a travel device, the iPad or iPad Pro are better at filling that niche.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.