Nvidia Shield Tablet & Wireless Controller Review
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks with a new toy and, for a change, it’s not a peripheral, motherboard or a case. This new toy is really rather something special, it’s an Nvidia Shield Tablet, and its associated Wireless Controller (sold separately). You may then ask well what’s so special about the Shield Tablet and why should I be interested, perhaps? Well the name that’s before the word Shield should give you a clue, as this is no ordinary tablet; this tablet’s designed by Nvidia. Because of this fact it has some rather nifty tricks up its sleeve, thanks in-part to its Nvidia Tegra K1 2.2GHz mobile processor and its 192 Kepler based cores! The Shield features a 1920×1200 8″ screen. It also comes equipped with Google’s latest incarnation of the Android Operating System (Android 4.40 KitKat). This particular model comes with 16GB of storage, and there’s a 32GB 4G LTE version available also.
Both the Shield tablet and the Controller came in smart, predominately black box with nice large images on the front of the products within. Of course there’s a splash of green here and there.
The back of the Shield Tablet gives very little away (surprising really as there’s lots to talk about!), instead it just serves as an advert for the Wireless Controller and the Cover (both sold separately).
The back of the Wireless Controller as you would expect isn’t trying to sell you a Shield Tablet to go with it; instead just opting to list various features of the controller.
Opening the Shield box, allows us to see the tablet resting within. Packaging also seems good, if not outstanding.
Remove the Shield tablet and we get to see a handful of nicely displayed accessories; namely a Tablet Safety Information guide, USB power cord (for charging) and a universal plug adapter.
The Wireless Controller is similarly packaged (as one would expect) with the controller on the top and its associated accessories beneath. Underneath we find a Wireless Controller Quick Start Guide, Wireless Controller Support Guide and another USB charging cable.
courtesy of Ebuyer
First Impressions of the Nvidia Shield tablet are, wow it’s long, strange considering its 1920×1200 (16:10) screen! It also feels a little wider thanks to the large, front facing speakers found at either end. Overall though it’s a pretty regular looking tablet…
Looking at the back of the tablet you can see there’s very little to see, just the SHIELD logo, the 5 Megapixel Camera (top right) and the evidence of the Stylus in the top left.
Looking at the left side of the Shield tablet we find what appears to be an air vent followed by, Micro USB charging port, Mini-HDMI port (output) and an 3.5 mm audio jack (output). On the right side there’s nothing other than an additional air vent. In fact and after reading some more about the Shield’s sound system, I’m now under the impression that these vents are actually bass ports for the speakers.
Taking a look at the top edge and working left to right we have the main power button, volume control and a Micro SD Card slot. Along the bottom edge there’s not much to see other than a couple of strange holes. These are for attaching the Shield’s associated cover (sold separately).
The Nvidia Shield Cover (sold separately) is a must really and in my opinion should be bundled with the tablet itself. As an after market purchase it’s going to cost you a whopping £25 I’m afraid! 🙁
Setting up the controller was extremely easy and was just a case of a couple of button presses, easy! With the tablet powered up and the Wireless Controller, controlling and after short setup (Language, Date/Time, Google account etc), I was good to go… 😉
GAMES USED IN TESTING:
- Reaper (Android OS)
- TRINE 2 (Android OS)
- Bastion (Streaming)
- Batman: Arkham Origins (Streaming)
From a pure tablet point of view running on Android 4.40 (KitKat there’s no doubt that the Nvidia Shield is an impressive bit of kit. The screen is great with its 1920×1200 resolution and the picture was pin sharp, perfect for film as well as great for Games. Although one thing that was weird, was that the blacks could look a little green at times, weird eh! 😉 Every task (general browsing, email, You Tube etc) was actioned quickly and overall the tablet felt snappy in everything that it did, thanks to that Nvidia Tegra K1 2.2GHz processor.
But really the most important aspect that we here at pcG want to talk about is Gaming, what’s Gaming like on the Nvidia Shield Tablet?
Impressive! That’s the first word that comes to mind. Gaming with the Nvidia Tablet and its associated Wireless Controller is great, whether playing Andriod based Games like Reaper or Trine 2 (which looks awesome BTW!) or streaming games like Batman: Arkham Origins and Bastion courtesy of Nvidia’s GameStream™ technology. At all times I felt very much in control and there was very little graphical lag or input lag that I could detect. When it comes to streaming the Shield really shines, it’s hard to appreciate that the Game’s not actually running on the tablet; it’s running on your PC and streaming the imagery to the tablet, clever stuff!
The images below give you some idea of what the Shield tablet has to offer, from streaming to the tablet in the home, streaming to your TV (by way of HDMI output) or streaming to the local coffee shop. The choice is yours and the choice is (as I said) IMPRESSIVE!
The sounds is good too, with decent sound for a tablet, there’s also plenty of volume on offer. Although I still think that Games are probably best played with a decent headset, or ear-phones maybe…
But of course there has to be some down sides to all of this, right? Well there are some drawbacks: The first of which is the fact that you need an Nvidia GPU in your PC for streaming, those without, need not apply. Then there’s the LAG, this of course is not really down to the tablet but down to your own WiFi connection in the home, or down to your Internet speeds while outside of the home.
NVIDIA: * GameStream gaming outside of your home Wi-Fi network requires is a BETA feature and minimum upload and download bandwidth speeds of 5 Mbps. Your streaming experience may vary depending on the quality of your Internet.
What may have also been cool, is if you could stream to the Shield tablet, while doing something else on your PC. But alas the game being streamed has to run full screen (at all times) for streaming to work. One Other minor issue is that I saw some strange GPU/screen crashes whilst testing with my SLI rig, crashes that have never been seen when not using the Shield!?
Overall I have really enjoyed my time with the Nvidia Shield Tablet (and Wireless Controller), the more I used it the more I warmed to it. From a tablet point of view it’s quick and responsive (a feature we all like) thanks to that Tegra K1 2.2GHz processor no doubt. The 8″ 1920×1200 screen is clear and sharp, although you may want to mess with the brightness settings a little! Watching films on the Shield is particularly impressive…
But Gaming is where the Shield tablet really begins to shine, whether playing native Android Games such as Reaper or Trine 2, the experience with the associated wireless controller is excellent. Streaming via Nvidia’s GameStream™ technology is simply amazing and it’s easy to forget that your Nvidia GPU enabled PC is doing all of the hard work. Of course Lag comes into play, and whether on your home network or another remote network it’s an issue, especially for quick paced FPS style games. Games like Batman: Arkham Origins was perfectly playable in my local coffee shop though.
At the end of this review I find myself asking myself (that sounds weird right!?) why? Why would I want to do any of these things, stream My PC games to My tablet or My TV. The answer to that may simply be, because I can! The other question is why would I want to stream Batman: Arkham Origins from my PC at home to my Tablet at my local coffee shop? The answer to that is simple, because it’s damn cool that’s why… 😉
Then of course we have the price, at approximately £240 at the time of the review the tablet seems pretty good value, but the price of the accessories, that you Will need (for Gaming), will set you back another £75!
But to be fair no other Tablet offers this level of Gaming support so the bottom line is; it doesn’t get much better than this…
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Many thanks to Nvidia for providing this sample for review