Nvidia has formally entered the handheld gaming market with the Shield portable gaming console. It’s the company’s first foray into a complete mobile electronics device after their Tegra program failed to spur on tablet and smartphone makers to produce Tegra 3-powered devices using Nvidia’s engineering expertise and some funding.
Shield runs on Android Jelly Bean and aside from being a great solution for Android gamers, it also presents a unique opportunity for PC gamers to join the console crowd without ditching their PCs. Its unique capability, to stream your PC games to the 720p screen over dual-band WiFi, requires that you own a GTX650 or better to accelerate the video decode process
Shield runs on Nvidia’s latest Tegra 4 system-on-chip (SOC), comprised of a quad-core ARM processor paired with Geforce graphics. In terms of performance, you’re looking at the equivalent of a Geforce 6600GT. In addition, the console has a touch-driven 720p IPS screen that folds down neatly to meet the Xbox 360-inspired controller layout.
Every bit of the Shield is engineered from scratch, including the angled speakers, the contours meant to help evenly disperse weight and the mixture of matte and metallic surfaces to give it a premium finish.
Shield retails for US$300 and is currently available only through the Geforce.com website. There is a waiting list thanks to pre-orders that will be fulfilled first.
Good reception from critics
Tom’s Hardware were pleasantly surprised by what Shield could do, and they even managed to record a staggering 9.5-hour battery life while streaming games from their computer. They also were handed a Parrot AR drone that was pre-configured to use the Shield as the controlling device and a screen to monitor camera feeds.
The Verge discovered that while Shield performed well in every other aspect, there were software hitches that occasionally made streaming games a bit frustrating. Nvidia labels the streaming functions as “in Beta”, which is appropriate for a service that will continue to get better and more fully-featured while they work with game and app developer. The Verge gave Shield a score of 7.8 out of 10.
PC Perspective went into more detail with some extra video overviews and found that their experience was largely satisfactory. However, they echoed many other reviews by noting that it’s not yet a must-have device. That will surely be its successor that gets that honour.
Engadget found that while one wouldn’t initially consider the device thanks to competition from other players in the market, its abilities were compelling enough to warrant serious consideration, especially if you already have the latest Geforce GTX600-series graphics card.