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Google Pixel C vs. Microsoft Surface 3 vs. iPad Air 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (9.7-inch)

Google's Pixel C tablet has arrived -- let's see how it stacks up against its chief competitors.

Josh Miller/CNET

Google's Pixel C has entered a crowded, confusing marketplace. It's the first Android tablet made and designed by Google, and it's built to showcase everything that Android 6.0 Marshmallow has to offer. Pick up the optional full-sized keyboard, and you'll have a compact office package.

But Android 6.0 Marshmallow is a mobile operating system: unless you're already enmeshed in Google's ecosystem, that'll rule out most of the tools you're used to using on a proper PC. Apple's well received iPad Air 2 is in a similar spot, but the wealth of tablet-friendly apps available on iOS eases the blow a bit.

More serious competition comes from two-in-one devices such as the Surface 3, which runs Windows 10 -- a full operating system. And then there's Samsung's 9.7-inch Galaxy Tab S2, which lacks a fancy keyboard companion, but offers a gorgeous screen and expandable storage.

Let's see how Google's Pixel C compares.

Josh Miller/CNET

Google Pixel C specs comparison

Google Pixel C iPad Air 2 Surface 3 Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (9.7-inch)
Display 10.2-inches, 2,560x1,800-pixel resolution 9.7-inches, 2,048x1,536-pixel resolution 10.8-inch, 1,920x1,280-pixel resolution 9.7-inches, 2,048x1,536-pixel resolution
Pixel density 308 ppi 264 ppi 214 ppi 264 ppi
Dimensions (imperial) 9.5 x 7.04 x 0.2 inches 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.24 inches 10.52 x 7.36 x 0.34 inches 9.34 x 6.6 x 0.22 inches
Dimensions (metric) 242 x 179 x 7 mm 240 x 169.5 x 6.1 mm 267 x 187 x 8.7 mm 237.3 x 169 x 5.6 mm
Weight 1.14 pounds (517 grams) 0.96 pounds (437 grams) 1.27 pounds (622 grams) 0.58 pounds (265 grams)
Operating system Android 6.0 Marshmallow iOS 9 Windows 10 Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, with Samsung's TouchWiz
Processors Nvidia X1 quad-core, Maxwell GPU 64-bit A8X, M8 motion coprocessor 1.6GHz Intel Atom x7-Z8700 CPU, Intel Exynos Octa 5433 (1.3GHz quad-core Cortex A53; 1.9GHz quad-core Cortex A57)
Storage 32GB, 64GB up to 128GB up to 128GB 32GB, 64GB
RAM 3GB 2GB up to 4GB 3GB
Battery 12 hours 42 minutes of video playback TBD, estimated at over 10 hours mixed use 7 hours 41 minutes of video playback 12 hours 42 minutes of video playback
Starting price (US) $500 $499 $499 $500

Much of the conversation here will revolve around price. The Pixel C sits at $500 for the 32GB model and $600 for the 64GB version. Tack on that keyboard (you'll want to), and you'll pay an extra $149. That converts to £330 or AU$690 for the 32GB tablet, £400 or AU$825 for the 64GB tablet, and £100 or AU$205 for the keyboard, though expect final prices to vary.

The Galaxy Tab S2 starts at the same price for 32GB and has a slightly lower resolution display. But you can always tack on a microSD card to meet your storage needs. The Tab S2's performance doesn't fail to impress either.

Josh Miller/CNET

The iPad Air 2 starts at $499 for a paltry 16GB. The first model anyone should really consider is the 64GB variant for $599, £479 or AU$829. If you care about a keyboard, there plenty of third-party options available for your iPad. If you don't, then you're just left to decide whether you prefer Apple iOS 9 or Android 6.0 Marshmallow -- I won't wade into that argument here.

That leaves the Surface 3. It's the homeliest of the bunch, but it's also the only member of the pack to offer a full PC experience, care of Windows 10. You'll be able to run all of your favorite desktop apps, plug peripherals into a USB slot, and expand your storage with a microSD card. You'll want to tack on an extra $130, £110 or AU$162 for the Type Cover keyboard, but the Surface 3's versatility makes it an attractive prospect.