Nvidia's Shield Tablet returns for the holidays at $199

Nvidia's Shield Tablet has been a staple of our past mobile staff picks, but it's been difficult to find a Shield in stock over the past few months. That might be because the company recalled some of its tablets in July to address a battery fire risk. Against that backdrop, the Shield Tablet is making a triumphant return of sorts. Nvidia says it's "bringing back" the slate today as the Shield Tablet K1. The K1 comes with 16GB of storage, and it'll cost $199—$100 less than the original 16GB Shield Tablet.

What's different? The Shield Tablet K1 appears to have a slightly restyled outer shell. According to Android Central, the K1 is built with soft-touch material over the speaker grilles, rather than the hard plastic covers of the original. The stylus garage of the first Shield Tablet is no more, and Nvidia no longer includes a stylus, charger, or USB cable in the K1's box. The 32GB version and LTE options are both gone, as well.

Otherwise, the K1's specs are identical to the first Shield Tablet. A Tegra K1 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and an 8", 1920x1200 display are all still along for the ride, and buyers can expand the 16GB of onboard storage with microSD cards as large as 128GB.

Along with the price cut, Nvidia also says it'll be updating all Shield Tablets to Android 6.0 Marshmallow in "the coming months." Given the spotty history of Android OS updates on non-Nexus devices and the increasing importance of those updates for security reasons, it's nice to see that Nvidia remains committed to keeping its devices current. History shows the company's promises aren't just hot air, either.

The Shield Tablet K1's $199 price tag doesn't include the optional $60 Shield controller, $20 stylus, or $40 cover. If you want Nvidia's charger, it's a $40 extra, as well.

$260 or so for a Shield Tablet and controller isn't much more than one would pay for our current entry-level tablet pick, the Asus ZenPad S 8.0 Z580C. Nvidia's gaming-focused hardware and services (along with a direct line to Android OS updates) make the Shield K1 look like a standout in its price bracket. The company says the Shield Tablet K1 should be available today in the United States, Canada, and "select European countries."

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