SHIELD Tablet is available
For over a week, there has been intense speculation surrounding the launch of Nvidia’s new SHIELD today. ABT forum members predicted correctly that a new SHIELD would launch as a three hundred dollar 8″ tablet without an integrated controller. Now that Nvidia’s NDA is over, we can give you the exciting details of the new SHIELD tablet, controller, and stand, as part of the SHIELD family, including updates for the existing SHIELD portable.
Although the SHIELD portable launched nearly a year ago, ABT got one in late March as a gift to the attendees of Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC 2014). As this editor’s first gaming console in over thirty years, as well as his first Android device, utilizing the many features of SHIELD took some getting used to. Streaming PC games over Wi-Fi to SHIELD proved to be invaluable in treating terminal agitation and we are looking forward to seeing how the SHIELD tablet may be used.
The SHIELD tablet is designed for gamers by Nvidia to be the first fully-featured tablet with great graphics and with all of the features of the SHIELD portable. The Tegra K1 mobile Kepler GPU used in the SHIELD tablet is a major leap in performance over the GPU used in the portable. Tegra K1’s 192 dedicated graphics cores have the same Kepler graphics cores as in Nvidia’s GeForce GTX graphics cards which means that the architecture is the same, and it is much easier for game developers to program for across all platforms.
Because the SHIELD tablet uses a Kepler architecture advanced mobile processor, it is capable of displaying complex detailed graphics including for watching video and movies and streaming PC games in HD. The SHIELD tablet comes with a stylus using Nvidia’s DirectStylus 2 technology, even allowing for the creation of realistic images by serious artists with the Nvidia Dabbler.
Just as with the portable, the SHIELD tablet is 100% Android. It has expandable storage with a microSD slot supporting cards with up to 128GB of capacity. It gets updates direct from Nvidia and it runs mobile apps from Google Play. For a hundred dollars more than the base Wi-Fi unit, the SHIELD tablet comes with a LTE option ($399).
Nvidia’s PureAudio technology and dual-bass reflex ports are built into the SHIELD tablet to deliver great stereo sound as gamers require directional clues. There is an optional ($39) cover that protects the screen and can also be used as a stand to prop up the device at a more vertical viewing angle.
For sixty dollars more, there is an optional wireless controller that pairs with SHIELD tablet. It is designed for both Android and PC gaming using a direct Wi-Fi connection for half the latency and more than double the bandwidth compared to using a Bluetooth controller.
Of course, the controller has an integrated microphone for playing online and it can be used to search without typing, open apps, and play songs and movies. Best of all, up to four controllers can be paired simultaneously, so a gamer can play Co-op games on the big screen with his friends.
The SHIELD tablet will feature Console Mode, which takes your tablet gameplay to the big screen TV. Console Mode transforms the device into a living-room gaming and entertainment console. From the couch, gamers can set up their SHIELD wireless controller to play Android games, browse the web, or watch movies.
One of the best features of the SHIELD portable currently allows gamers to stream games from the cloud using Nvidia’s GRID beta (especially for Northern California), or more importantly, from their GeForce PC. SHIELD now has a new Hub app to give gamers one-touch access to more than 400 SHIELD-optimized game titles similarly to how the portable works with the push of one button now.
The best features of the SHIELD portable have been carried over to the tablet. Both can easily connect to a big-screen TV but now the tablet is the first mobile device to integrate Twitch, the world’s leading video community for gamers. SHIELD tablet users can now stream live gameplay to friends and fans worldwide in 720P. And by using the SHIELD controller’s built in microphone, gamers can stream the game and give commentary at the same time.
As the tablet launches, Nvidia promises continued support for the SHIELD portable. Gamers can expect an over-the-air update to hit on July 29, bringing SHIELD wireless controller compatibility, along with the new SHIELD Hub and Netflix HD. Look for more details on ABT forum in the coming days. Of course, Nvidia won’t comment yet on the follow-up to the SHIELD portable, but a Tegra K1-based successor is likely to be released in the coming months.
Android Gaming and Installed Games
In addition to the thousands of Android games the SHIELD Tablet can play on Google Play, there are now more than 400 SHIELD-optimized games available through the SHIELD Hub, as well as 11 specially optimized games for Tegra K1.
Trine 2: Complete Story comes pre-installed on SHIELD tablet. ABT has reviewed this PC game and gave it high marks as one of the most fun, challenging, beautiful, and artistic side-scrolling platformers in existence. Since you can choose to play as any one of the three heroes, it lends itself well to playing co-op with friends on the big screen TV.
Portal and Half Life 2 are both sold from Google Play for $9.99 each and have both been ported to Android specifically for SHIELD, and they play very well on it. The experiences are almost identical to the original games on PC.
Although we experienced some slowdowns on the SHIELD portable in graphically demanding areas of Half Life 2, there should be no such issues with the SHIELD tablet’s more powerful processors.
War Thunder, a WWII cross-platform MMO combat gamer will debut on Google Play this Fall. And Android games such as Pure Chess, Rochard, Anomaly 2, Flyhunter: Origins, Dungeon Defenders Eternity, and Chuck’s Challenge 3D: Reloaded have all been optimized for Tegra K1 and will be available on July 29.
The specifications for the SHIELD tablet are impressive. First, the tablet:
Now the controller specifications:
If you want more information about the SHIELD tablet, check out the videos that Nvidia suggests:
The Ultimate Tablet for Gamers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VohrddwVQqg
The Best Tegra K1 Games – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxXEs1yPxYM
DirectStylus 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJho3zrm2J8
We think it is great that Nvidia is continuing to advance Android gaming with the SHIELD family. Android gaming currently reminds us of the exciting times where PC gaming was twenty years ago. Android gaming appears poised for explosive growth as gaming finds a new audience with new technology. Nvidia appears to have developed a fully-featured SHIELD tablet, controller, and portable family particularly for gamers.
Make sure you stay tuned to ABT and especially ABT forum. In the weeks preceding the SHIELD tablet launch, our members were able to accurately predict many of the details. We have some of the best truly independent tech discussions anywhere, and you have to freedom to speak your mind if you join us.
On the main site, this week, you can expect us to publish the long-delayed optical storage review featuring OWC’s Mercury Pro Blu-ray 16x external burner. We have built our FCAT PC and are setting it up for frame time analysis, and Galaxy’s GTX 780 V2 is on deck for a review.