Engadget is asking for a "fan's opinion". Seeing as my main device is a Pixel 3 (and Pixel 2 and OG before that), and I bought two different variants of the Slate (m3 and i5), as well as having pretty much bought into most of Google’s software ecosystem, I would consider myself a "fan". That still doesn’t stop me from recognizing all of Google’s problems and issues, which I am very passionate about. After all, I want the devices I use to work as good as possible; excusing shortcomings is helping no one. The fact that this is essentially my hobby, and I have the privilege of owning and testing many different units in these segments, allows me to have a somewhat qualified opinion as well.
* Too big. If you want it to be used both as a tablet and a laptop, don't make the damn thing 12"+. It's even bigger than my Surface Pro. 10-10.5" is the sweet spot here. I don't have problems with 10" on a Surface Go, which I have tested; I certainly wouldn't on the even more simplistic Chrome OS. Not to mention that the few Android apps that have tablet support, are scaled for 8-10".
* QC issues, of which buzzing speakers is a major one. This is not an anamoly, but rather a recurrent behavior by Google, who continuously sell these expensive (Pixel phones, Pixel buds, etc) units, with way too many widespread QC issues. The speakers not only buzz, but also completely change the way they sound in the higher volumes, which is weird. This is simply bad engineering and bad quality control.
* Unjustified price. If I’m buying what’s essentially a low-powered Core-Y (2 cores) processor and eMMC memory (not even SSD, or UFS 2.0!), and only 128GB of it, $1000 is a ridiculous price. I can get a Surface Pro 6 i5 8250U (4 cores and fanless) and 128GB SSD for $800, less than that! I don’t need to tell you that the Surface Pro is a budget device, or that it runs a full-fledged OS that can do both browsing as well as much else.
* Wobbly keyboard. Generally, a great keyboard, except for the fact that it’s not connected well-enough to not wobble, when using it on the laptop (you know, the whole purpose of a laptop). Look to Microsoft here, who have essentially perfected this. Google’s idea of making the keyboard a kickstand as well, that is “infinitely” adjustable, is damn innovative, however. It only needs 1 or 2 very minor tweaks for second version and will be by far the best one out there.
* Terrible tablet interface experience: the Slate is sold without a keyboard and is also advertised heavily as a tablet and 2-in-1. You therefore expect it to properly function as a tablet. But it doesn’t. Even ignoring the fact its bulky size (I use it as a tablet just as little as I do my Surface Pro), or that the Android tablet apps are clearly not optimized for 12”, the experience of the Slate is still pretty bad. There’re frame drops, jitter, stutter and inconsistencies all over the place. Touch latency is far from impressive, making the use of a pen redundant. Also, a significant portion of the interface experience is in 30 FPS. 30 FPS in 2018/2019 is just dumbfounding. But in what’s essentially a $1000 unit, it’s just beyond outlandish and beyond inexcusable. That’s something that cannot be ignored and makes the experience just flat out bad.
* Flawed laptop interface experience; this is both a mix of Slate and Chrome OS issues. Chrome OS is essentially a glorified browser, so you’d think that it would be easy to provide a well-rounded experience. But it isn’t, and it feels less smooth than, say, MacOS. There’s a clear amount of stutter, frame drops and inconsistencies in areas that should not have it; like minimizing windows.
* Feels like a Beta build due to too many bugs: Chrome OS has too many bugs. Even Bluetooth dropouts, which has been complained about for years, is still going on. How can Google defend this?
* Lack of ecosystem: Spotify is only supported through the web player, but that’s low-quality 128kbps. The android app is buggy, and just refreshes whenever one attempt to choose "high quality" in settings. Then there’s the lack of support for a proper Office Word experience, with both the Android and web version being severely limited (in everything from missing a thesaurus to the inability to save files on Google Drive). And the list goes on. This is the problem when only relying on the browser or Android versions. Crostini is trying to help mitigate this, but it’s still very limited, and has too many of its own problems and issues that need to be dealt with.
The lack of third-party app support can be explained away, I guess. But the fact that Google hasn’t even bothered to tailor its own ecosystem for the Slate, is ludicrous. Apps like YouTube are clearly not properly optimized for the Chrome OS tablet experience.
Google has yet again, as they almost always do, half-assed their job in making a product, and demanded a premium price tag for it. It’s quite obvious, by the look of the issues that exist, as well as it being a recurring theme throughout their entire product line-up, that it’s down to Google’s lack of interest of investing time and money on their products. I buy a Surface or a Macbook, I get a well-rounded unit: touch pad responsitivity, display quality (calibration, response time, etc.), cooling solutions, design, keyboard, speakers, software drivers, etc. It all, for the most part, feels like something that have gone through a comprehensive design process. It doesn’t just happen by accident; these companies are purposefully aiming for premium devices, and they employ the engineering talent and manpower, as well as spending the needed resources to get that done. Google doesn’t. You see it with their Pixel phones, that, despite their many fantastic aspects, are released with way too many quality control issues, year after year (I've literally gone through four Pixel 2's to get a properly-functioning on, at this point). You saw it with the Pixelbook. You see it with the Pixel Slate as well. There's well-though elements (like the keyboard, or the good display calibration).
Even people who genuinely like the Slate can’t overlook the points mentioned above. The argument that you can do more stuff with a Surface and a Macbook is significant– it’s one of the main reasons why I’m writing this on a Surface Pro 6. The counterargument that Chrome OS is supposed to be simple does not cut it; if it it’s supposed to be simple and cut-down, then what’s the point of paying $1000, and not $500? The purpose of Chrome OS is to provide a cheap simple-purpose laptop OS. So how does it justify reuniting that with an expensive unit? It doesn’t, and probably never will until Fuchia OS arrives. A recurring counterargument is that many people want to get the simplicity of Chrome OS, but with a faster and smoother performance. But Chrome OS on the Pixel Slate is everything else than smooth, so even that argument does not stand. If you want a smooth and more simplistic option to Windows in the premium device, there's Macbooks. Mac OS even has proper support for many important desktop applications (like Photoshop, Office, Spotify, etc.), unlike Chrome OS.
There’s a reason why there’s a consensus of YouTube reviewers out there lambasting the Slate – even the pro-Google ones, like MKBHD. Even some controversial/bad products don’t have this much of an agreement between reviewers. I believed into the hype by members of this sub, ignoring all the initial negative reviews, and bought 2 of them (one m3 and one i5). over 3 months later, and it's one of the most regretful purchases I've done in recent memory (topped only by the Essential PH-1, which was excruciatingly bad).