Yesterday NVIDIA introduced us to its new high-end tablet, the NVIDIA Shield. It is not just a new device, but more a new device category. Is the Shield and its specially developed Shield Controller a mere Android tablet, or should we describe it as a gaming console? Either way, the Shield will soon be available in Western markets and packs the latest Tegra K1 processor, PC game streaming and more. Watch Mobile Geeks unbox the NVIDIA Shield and its controller, giving you our first impressions of this remarkable device:
At first glance the NVIDIA Shield Tablet looks very reminiscent of its predecessor, the NVIDIA Tegra Note 7, but a closer inspection will reveal the Shield to be a different beast altogether. Under the hood you will find what NVIDIA describes as the most powerful mobile processor ever with its very own NVIDIA K1, a SoC that is based on the same Kepler micro-architecture that powers the most powerful PC graphics cards around. The K1 combines a quad-core A15 ARM Cortex processor with 192 Kepler graphics cores, making it an astoundingly powerful chip that on paper should be able to provide real desktop PC gaming performance.
For a more detailed look at the features that NVIDIA are bringing to the table with the Shield, check out our NVIDIA Shield launch article here.
NVIDIA Shield: Unboxing Video
If you want to just dive deep in to the device unboxing, plus our first thoughts about the NVIDIA Shield Tablet and Controller, check out the video below from our man Roland:
NVIDIA Shield: Design
NVIDIA have been moving towards a device like the Shield for some time now, and in many ways this is the money shot for them, with an enormous amount of R&D dollars going in its development. But once you get hands on with the Shield, you will immediately appreciate their efforts, as it has everything you would want from a device as a gamer. The 8 inch IPS LCD display comes in Full HD and looks impressively sharp and crisp. The audio system is likewise very impressive with a pair of front facing speakers mounted on the two shorter sides of the device. Gamers appreciate good sound and these speakers are excellent, even providing decent low frequency bass tones. The are mounted 5MP cameras on the front and back, although they are mounted in a somewhat suboptimal position in terms of holding the device in landscape mode. The chassis of the Shield Tablet however feels to be of pretty high build quality, and really solid when used horizontally.
NVIDIA Shield: Gallery
NVIDIA Shield: Performance
In terms of performance the NVIDIA Shield does not hide. The only slight concern about the integration of the Tegra K1 is the it may well have to throttle down due to heat. While in reality the device can get a little warm during extended gaming sessions (not much more than many other 8 inch tablet devices) the components used in the build have been selected to good effect. The inner frame of the device is made of a magnesium alloy that does a good job of dissipating heat – keeping the monster that is the Tegra K1 cooled sufficiently, without overheating in your hands.
PC Game streaming, or NVIDIA GameStream Technology, is one of the key features of the Shield, allowing you to stream games from your PC, as long as the PC is equipped with a GeForce 6000 series card or above. Over Ethernet this means game-play at up 1080p resolutions, but on LTE or a Wi-Fi connections, that is likely to be reduced due to bandwidth restrictions to only 720p – still totally decent on an 8 inch screen. One complaint you could make however, is the integration of only n-grade Wi-Fi. Why not ac? This is one area where the Shield is could be improved.
NVIDIA Shield: Controller
One of the more really interesting areas of the Shield is of course its specially developed controller which is available for an additional $59. Using a touchscreen for serious gaming can be less than optimal at times, so it is apt that NVIDIA have developed this specialized Shield Controller. In addition to hardware buttons and joysticks for controlling the Android-based game, there is also a small track pad in the center which controls an onscreen controller. There also some other unexpected additions such the built-in microphone which also integrates well with Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat speech features.
NVIDIA Shield: Initial Thoughts
Compared to other more affordable Windows 8.1 based tablets in a similar 8 inch form factor, the NVIDIA Shield is commanding a decent premium of either $299 for the basic 16GB/Wi-Fi only model, or $399 for the 32GB/LTE model. However the features, performance, impressive display and overall design mean you are getting something that will be appreciated much more by a serious or even casual gamer. The controller at $59 is arguably a little steep compared to other competing options from Sony and Microsoft however. In its current form it may a little difficult to make a strong recommendation to your average user, but for a hardcore gamer there is very little on the market that offers what the NVIDIA Shield offers. It is at the very least, worthy of very serious consideration.