Nvidia has been a company I’ve trusted for years. I’ve been a PC gamer since I was a kid, building computers with Nvidia graphics cards. When I picked up my first Android tablet, it was the Tegra 3 equipped Nexus 7. So when Nvidia announced something radical at CES earlier this year, I was enthralled.
That something was the Nvidia Shield, a kind of games-focused Android device, formed of a 5-inch touchscreen mounted above a controller. The controller held the guts of an Android device inside, powered by Nvidia’s new Tegra 4 Android chipset. The design makes for an ideal Android-powered gaming platform, with hundreds of titles in the Play store as well as a select few in the Shield-only game store.
Just there, I was already tempted – the ideal Android handheld! What sealed the deal was another source of games: my PC! Using some clever streaming technology, I would be able to bring controller-capable PC games from my desk to my couch, my living room or indeed pretty much anywhere in the house. That seemed worth the $349 price point right there, and getting a sick Android device in the bargain was a nice bonus.
While the Nvidia Shield was initially slated to be released in early July, a manufacturing fault pushed back the release a month and dropped the price by $50 to $299. You can also purchase a cover case for the Nvidia Shield for $39.
A bunch of publications, including The Verge, Engadget and Anandtech have taken a look at the device upon launch, and all have had very positive impressions.
The controller itself is a highlight of the Shield, with clicky and accurate controls and a similar feel to an Xbox 360 controller (although the layout more closely resembles the PS3 controller with the thumbsticks together at the bottom). Build quality was also praised by most publications, particularly the hinged screen.
Probably the most important indicator from these reviews is that the device actually works – Tegra 4 is fast, Android games (that don’t rely on portrait orientations or touching the screen) work well, and even the PC streaming ability is spot-on if you have a fast enough wireless router and a PC with a recent Nvidia card.
While the Nvidia Shield has niche appeal, if you’re a PC and Android gamer then I think it makes a lot of sense. It’s certainly a much higher quality gaming solution than just buying a Bluetooth game controller and calling it a day.
What do you make of the nvidia Shield – will you order one when you can? Let me know in the comments below.