Nvidia's Shield handheld gaming device began shipping earlier today, and the first reviews are in. AnandTech, PC Perspective, Hot Hardware, and others have all spent time with the device, and their verdict is, all things considered, surprisingly positive.
They all praised the Shield's build quality and the feel of its controller, which is apparently similar to that of the Xbox 360. They also seemed pleased with the support for Android games. Nvidia has a curated list of Android titles that work with the device and its controller; according to PC Perspective, that list already includes 42 games.
Of course, the Shield's main selling point is its ability to stream PC games. Setting up that functionality is apparently straightforward (a GeForce GTX 650 or better and Nvidia's GeForce Experience software are required), and connecting to a PC is, in PC Perspective's words, "as easy as accepting an invitation on the screen." AnandTech praised the video quality and the "very minimal" input latency, though it complained of occasional stutters and slight audio lag. Fewer than two dozen titles are officially supported at the moment, but PC Perspective's testing suggests many unsupported games work just fine.
Benchmarks from AnandTech, PC Perspective, and Hot Hardware all paint the Shield as a solid performer, with benchmark scores outmatching the best tablets and phones out there. Battery life seems more than respectable, as well. According to AnandTech, the Shield can handle just over six hours of GLBenchmark before running out of juice, and it's good for almost 19 hours of video playback.
I'm detecting less enthusiasm about the device's price, though, and HotHardware points out that the Shield hardware is a little heavy. Still, considering this is a first-gen product, the response is better than I expected. It'll be interesting to see how that initial praise translates into sales for Nvidia.