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"Nvidia Shield" Review

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  3. "Nvidia Shield" Review

User Info: SamusFarron

4 years ago#1
*tl:dr at end*

Seems to be a lack of truly good info or discussion about the device, too bad (as you'll see). For those totally out of the loop, it is basically an Android handheld "console" built around the philosophy of a pure gaming device. However, it has one particular not often credited feature that every serious PC gamer should know about - Wireless PC game streaming to the device. I'll get to that tasty last bit here at the end.

It is a clamshell type design with a 5" 720p touchscreen on top and a 360-esque (with a touch of DS3) controller on the bottom, powered by the first commercial application of Nvidia's new Tegra 4 SoC. It has an accelerometer, Wireless N, Bluetooth, Micro HDMI out, SD slot (up to 64GB), and Micro USB. This device has no camera, and no mobile radio (AKA, no 3g or 4g from wireless carriers). It runs android 4.2.1, stock besides a few important additions from Nvidia. Cost is $299.


This device is not sexy, especially when closed. Also, while a portable handheld console - this thing is not going to fit in anyones pocket, however it slips nicely into a backpack or messenger/laptop bag. While closed it is a hunk of sturdy black plastic in the shape of a controller, with a removable magnetic silver plate on top that can be customized to your liking. The front lip sees silver badges with "NVIDIA" and "SHIELD" on the top and bottom of an Nvidia style green indent. The ports and Micro SD slot sit in the back (or top, kinda, technically) right under and behind the screen, along with a grid vent where the active (yeah, active) cooling fan vents.

Personally, I think it's kind of ugly - but in a charming way that keeps it inoffensive. A total focus on usability over aesthetics. The overall size of the controller I would liken to a mite bigger than the old Xbox controller S, but a notable amount smaller than the original Xbox "I hope you're an octopus" controller. The contouring and shape of the controller however is vastly superior to both, and better than either the 360 controller or the DS3 IMHO. Also good IMO, it takes a major design cue from Sony and orients the dual analogs in a parallel while also bothering to give a **** or two about the D-Pad.

As far as the build quality? While being plastic, it's some dense plastic to say the least - you could probably demolish a house with the thing. Where the 3DS and Vita are in their own right solid and drop resistant devices, the Shield feels like it was constructed from materials harvested on a Neutron Star. It is relatively light, I say relatively because it still weighs 576 grams, which is about 2 Vitas. Still, comparatively heavy or not it is a light device that anyone will be able to hold easily - made even easier thanks to the excellent ergonomics of the controller.

User Info: SamusFarron

4 years ago#2

The 720p display is somewhat unremarkable, but totally enjoyable. 1080p would have been nice, as well as using up some of that unnecessarily wide bezel to go up to a 5.5" screen or so. But as is, the screen wont disappoint. Colors pop nicely while remaining mostly accurate, brightness is excellent, detail is sharp and lovely at normal viewing distance, viewing angle is also good, however blacks are not as black as I'd like them to be. It looks better than 95% of phone/tablet screens on devices so far this year, but small display tech is advancing in such a fashion that nothing remains at the top for long.

Battery life is great. 5-6 hours of emulators/gaming are possible, and probably 8+ for PC streaming. Not much else to say there, it's satisfactory and a bit beyond but it won't go for days or anything obviously.

That Tegra 4. Well, it's fast. Faster than any other commercially released SoC on the planet right now, including Qualcomms new Snapdragon 800. Pulling in a 19683 in 3DMark, this device easily surpasses anything else.

Gaming Performance

Android native: Don't bother with touchscreen only games, keep those on your phone/tab. Anything with good controller support works great for the most part, especially games on the Shield specific storefront. As far as performance? It it's a game on Android right now, the Shield handles it breezily - no mobile games are really made with this level of graphics prowess in mind at the moment. Your mileage with Android games will vary, and the PlayStore lacks a truly healthy selection of quality. Don't buy a Shield for Android games only, basically.

Emulators: From NES to N64, nearly flawless. Games like Majora's Mask or Jet Force Gemini, which often chugged at best, play great. Basically, from the PS1/N64 era and downward the Shield is your oyster. And thanks to a good D-Pad, platformers like Yoshi's Island feel lovely to play.

But, none of that is why the Shield is one of the coolest things to come along this year IMO.

User Info: SamusFarron

4 years ago#3
PC Streaming

1 second of setup later, Crysis 3 is streaming with no lag (perceivably speaking, at all) to my Shield as I sit on the toilet. I close Crysis 3 and open Steam on the Shield, and presented to me is my entire Steam collection available for the streaming. Even non Steam titles that are manually added work fine so long as they support a controller. And while Crysis 3 is the only "officially" listed Origin game, they all work fine when added to the Steam library manually as well. Setup amounts to nothing more than an initial prompt on your PC to allow the Shield to tie itself to that machine the first time you make a connection.

It requires an Nvidia 650 or better, and a solid local wireless N or AC network with a good 5Ghz signal. That's it. My 680GTX, Asus ea-n66 wireless ethernet adapter to the HTPC, and Asus N-56u router handled it flawlessly. Last weekend I moved up to an Asus AC-66u router, and it brought about a small reduction in macro-blocking, but as the Shield itself is only Wireless-N the improvements were likely just because of the routers better radio and higher "N" rating.

When you start the stream it defaults your game to 720p to match the Shield's display, however you can bump it up to 1080p for a slightly sharper image, thanks to the extra data available for interpolation, if you have the bandwidth in your local network for it. Neither my N-56u or AC-66u seemed to flinch even with 1080p. Depending on the game it also tweaks some settings at startup (like often disabling V-Sync and lowering AA), however you can change them yourself to whatever you want. Keep in mind, this is local network stuff. No streaming PC games over Internet to wherever you are in the world, officially anyway.

Like I mentioned, there is minimal macro-blocking - leading to about a 5% reduction in image clarity. And of course your panel is likely far superior to the Shield's display, as mobile screens haven't quite come that far yet. But, overall, even from my kind of obsessive attention to detail in audiovisual quality, I still find the Shield a joy to play PC games on in bed or while watching a movie on the couch. Zero lag, and only a tiny bit of reduction in IQ (on top of however much better your main panel is just overall). It's good stuff, I assure you, and the simplicity and lack of glitches is shocking for something still labeled as being in "beta" phase. If this is beta, the completed product is apparently going to be nigh perfect.

I won't blather on too much about it. Bottom line - PC Streaming works well, shockingly well. If you meet the requirements, it will work great. Props to Nvidia on whatever compression and buffering voodoo they coded into their drivers to stream so much data so cleanly and without perceivable latency.


Pros -
-Fastest mobile device you can buy right now
-Android games run flawless
-N64/PS1 era and down emulators run flawless
-PC Streaming is amazing
-Works with basically any PC game w/ controller support
-Device is extremely solid
-Controller layout is a joy to use

Cons -
-Screen bezel should have instead been more screen
-The PlayStore's game selection is mediocre at best
-Not pocketable
-Kind of ugly, or at best "meh"

Should you buy this? I can't answer that for you. But I can safely say I'm sure glad I decided to give it a try. $300 is pretty reasonable for such a premium device, and it's ability to rock emulators and PC streaming so hard makes it something gamers should be looking at much closer than they seem to be.

User Info: Ikari Gendo

Ikari Gendo
4 years ago#4
Good review, though I have no reason to ever get one.

User Info: Voelger

4 years ago#5
Great review, I'm getting one in a few weeks
Mythlogic-Pollux 1612, Clevo P150em, i7-3720QM, 2GB GTX 680m, 16g DDR3, 128 MSata drive, 750 7200rpm HDD
PowerFAQs 1.10

User Info: crawdad

4 years ago#6
Good review, i definitely want one, just i don;t have the GPU for one yet, and then the $300 on top. But I definitely want one. Especially for Borderlands 2.

Thank you for the review.
Spit in the face of life and have a good day out of sheer f****** spite!
GT:Gojirra PSN Gojirra102

User Info: Voelger

4 years ago#7
Can I ask a few questions?

1. Are the emulators on android purchased as an app? Or do you have to connect to a pc?

2. Pc streaming- how far can you take your shield from your pc/router before it is unplayable?

3. Pc streaming- is you computer with the gtx680 wired via Ethernet to the router or is everything wireless wifi?

4. Pc streaming- have you noticed a problem with screen size playing certain games? Like you can't read dialogue?

5. How is the media stuff on the shield? Surfing the web, YouTube, twitter?

6. Is it fat and snappy? They say its like four times faster than a vita!

7. I can't freaking wait to get one!

8. I have a laptop (Clevo) with a gtx 680m gpu. I know that nvidia doesn't support streaming from mobile gpus, but is there any word on it being supported later?

9. Do you recommend buying any I the accessories? Like the carting case or the shield replacements- carbon or black

10. Thanks for all this info
Mythlogic-Pollux 1612, Clevo P150em, i7-3720QM, 2GB GTX 680m, 16g DDR3, 128 MSata drive, 750 7200rpm HDD
PowerFAQs 1.10

User Info: SinisterSlay

4 years ago#8
I'm going to wait until they have streaming over the internet.

Too bad the new Nexus didn't use this new processor, or I would have traded up and got one.

Wish I could tell Asus that...
He who stumbles around in darkness with a stick is blind. But he who... sticks out in darkness... is... fluorescent! - Brother Silence


4 years ago#9
It is amazing really how little buzz there is around this gadget. Even if I think it is an interesting device, I can not see myself buying this.
I5 760 | GTX 560 Ti | FILCO Majestouch 2 tenkeyless | Zowie FK | Asus Xonar DGX | Sennheiser HD 518 | Samsung S24A350H

User Info: Trance_Fan

4 years ago#10
the nvidia shield 2 is going to be the real deal..the first one is a beta test

nvidia already anoonuced shield 2 is in the works, it'll have 5.5" 1080p screen, thin bezel, tegra 5, 3gb ram
i think it's nice
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