Cloud Gaming on the Pixel Tablet – Hub Mode

Cloud Gaming on the Pixel Tablet

The Pixel Tablet is the latest Pixel device from Google. As we previously opined, we think it effectively brings to market a new cloud gaming form factor.

We previously crowned the Lenovo Duet 3 as the best tablet for cloud gaming. However, the new Pixel Tablet has a unique feature that could allow it to unseat the Duet 3. Let us explain.

Fulfilling our Cloud Gaming Dreams

We’ve long wanted to game on the existing Nest Hub devices (as well as the similar Amazon Show) that have been on the market for a few years. We think they’d be great screens to use Xbox Cloud Gaming and GeForce NOW to play AAA titles. These devices tend to find themselves in places like the kitchen or patio where we wouldn’t mind sneaking in a little gaming from time to time.

Alas, the Nest Hub gen 1 and gen 2 don’t support any cloud gaming apps. However, the Pixel Tablet has just been released, and it essentially doubles as a Nest Hub (with a similar interface to Google Assistant) when docked with the speaker base that comes with the device. Does it fulfill our desires?

It Does Everything We Want!

The short answer is yes! The Pixel Tablet supports Cloud Gaming apps both as an Android tablet but also when docked in “Hub Mode.” When docked, game audio also comes out of the speaker base for sound quality vastly superior to what you get from any tablet (and even many TVs).

Playing games while the Pixel Tablet is docked in Hub Mode is simple. You can simply swipe up on the device to reach your home screen and launch the app of your choice. GeForce NOW, Xbox Game Pass, Blacknut and other cloud gaming service apps can be installed from the Google Play Store.

Pixel Tablet Cloud Gaming Apps

Amazon Luna is also supported on the Pixel Tablet. However, instead of installing it from the Google Play Store, simply open up Chrome and navigate to luna.amazon.com. When there, press the menu button and select “Install App” to install the Progressive Web App (PWA) to your device. It works just like a native app.

Unfortunately, the Utomik Android app doesn’t support tablets at the moment. So, you wont find that app in the Play Store, but you can sideload the phone app.

The device supports Wifi 6 and has had a solid internet connection in all of our testing. This is something that is extremely important for cloud gaming. We also had no trouble pairing an Xbox controller to the device via bluetooth (as shown in the featured image). The controller felt responsive during game play. The Pixel Tablet also has a Google designed G2 ARM processor (the same processor as in Pixel 7 phones) that is more than capable of handling cloud gaming.

GeForce NOW Works Great on the Pixel Tablet

GeForce NOW works as well as you would hope on the device. GFN supports a resolution of up to 1920×1200 (1200p) on the device and up to 60FPS. The native resolution of the screen is 2560×1600. So, you aren’t quite maxing out the capability of the screen, but the image looks crystal clear and game play is smooth. Here is a screenshot we took from Deliver Us the Moon – a game which notably supports RTX on GeForce NOW.

Deliver Us the Moon GeForce NOW Pixel Tablet Screencapture
Deliver Us the Moon GeForce NOW Pixel Tablet Screencapture

Xbox Cloud Gaming in the Kitcher With the Pixel Tablet

Xbox Cloud Gaming – which is a cloud gaming service included with every Game Pass Ultimate subscription – worked just as well on the device as GeForce NOW. You can play well over 300 Game Pass titles on the Pixel Tablet with support for playing Xbox games you have purchased outright expected in the future.

Xbox Game Pass App Pixel Tablet

We found game play to be clear and smooth via the Pixel Tablet’s strong Wifi connection. A bluetooth paired Xbox controller offers a great experience when gaming on the device – giving you close to a native Xbox feel.

You can see some screen captures we took while playing Minecraft Legends on the device.

For a Price…

The only real downside of the device (which, in fairness, can cover both your tablet and Nest Hub use cases) is the price.

The Pixel Tablet retails for $499 at the Google Store and other electronics stores. For that price, you can buy 5 Nest Hubs! In addition, the Lenovo Duet 3 tablet (our previously mentioned favorite tablet for cloud gaming) retails for $379 and comes with a quality keyboard attachment.

It feels liket the Pixel Tablet was priced just a little bit too high. At $350 or $399, it would be a much easier purchase to justify.

You can buy extra speaker docks for the tablet at $129 each – which allows you to use the same tablet as a Nest Hub replacement in multiple rooms of your house however. The docks themselves, though, have no capabilities on their own.

Specs

Pixel Tablet Packaging

Here are the Pixel Tablet Specs:

  • Display10.95-inch LCD Display · 2560×1600 resolution
  • 27 Watt Hour Battery Rated for 12 hours of Video
  • 8 GB LPDDR5 RAM · 128 UFS 3.1 Storage
  • Google Tensor G2 Processor
  • 8 MP · 1.12 μm pixel width cameras on both front and back
  • Fingerprint Sensor
  • Chromecast Built-in

We were actually surprised by the fingerprint sensor (which is located right on the power button). It’s a nice add for quickly unlocking the device.

The fact the tablet has Chromecast Built-in means it really does act just like a Nest Hub when docked. You can talk to the Google Assistant and can cast all the same video content from your phone to the screen that you can with a Nest Hub.

Conclusion

We’ve put the new Pixel Tablet from Google through its paces. The device can support cloud gaming and dock to function as a Nest Hub device with added capability. It can run essentially all cloud gaming services, and its Wifi 6 radio and G2 ARM processor can handle cloud gaming effectively. GeForce NOW and Xbox Cloud Gaming are especially fun on the device in “Hub Mode.” The only downside is the Pixel Tablet price compared to other devices on the market.


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Jack Deslippe

Jack Deslippe is an HPC professional with a PhD in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley. As a hobby, he is passionate about consumer technology and Cloud Gaming in particular. He volunteers as an editor for Cloud Dosage in his spare time. See the games Jack is Playing at ExoPhase. Like his content? You can follow Jack on Threads: @jackdeslippe and Buy Jack a Beer.

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