Is Google's Chromebook Pixel C just a Microsoft Surface knockoff?

chromebook pixel c

Google may play up its just-announced Chromebook Pixel C as something new, but it has plenty of similarities to the Microsoft Surface 3. Is it more than just a Surface knockoff?

Let's start with the basics. The Surface is a tablet that does double-duty as a laptop when you latch on a keyboard, which costs extra. As for the Chomebook Pixel C --- it does the same thing. The only difference is that the Pixel C runs Android, while the Surface runs Windows.

As for screen size, the Pixel C isn't quite a Surface knockoff --- it's got a 10.2-inch screen compared to the Surface 3's 10.8-inch one. For most things the smaller screen size shouldn't make much of a difference. But when it comes to productivity software, bigger is always better. On the other hand, the Pixel C screen has a much better resolution -- 2560-by-1800 compared to the Surface 3's 1920-by-1080. So it may well be better for entertainment.

Under the hood, not a lot is different. The Pixel C has an Nvidia Tegra X1 mobile processor with a Maxwell-based GPU. It sports 3GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of storage. There's also a USB-C port that is used for power charging as well as the usual USB functions. The Surface is powered by a quad-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor and comes with either 64GB or 128GB of storage, and either 2GB or 4GB of RAM. As for connectivity, it's got a USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, a microSD card reader, and micro-USB for charging. So you get a bit more with the Surface 3.

Beyond that, it all comes down to the software. And here's where the Pixel C falls short. Android is fine for tablets and smartphones, but not so much for productivity tools and being a fully powered operating system. Although Microsoft Office runs on Android, it doesn't have all of the power and features of the Windows version of Office.

As for pricing, the Pixel C costs pretty much the same as a Surface 3. The base price is $499, but with a $150 keyboard, that brings it up to $649. The Surface 3 base price is $500, with a cover keyboard for $130. That brings it to $630. So surprisingly, the Pixel C costs more than a Surface 3.

Which brings us back to the basic question: Is the Pixel C just a Surface knockoff? Yes and no. Like the iPad Pro, its design is clearly based on the Surface design. But you can't quite call it a knockoff because it runs Android. And at its price probably only Android fanatics will want it.

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