First impressions of Nvidia’s Shield Tablet

The Shield Tablet is basically a portable gaming console crammed into an 8″ slate. It has a Kepler-infused Tegra K1 processor, a high-res IPS panel, a proper gamepad, and even a stylus. The system can stream games from a home PC or a remote server, too, and the whole package costs the same as an entry-level iPad. So when I got the opportunity to spend some time with one, I couldn’t say no. This thing is a lot more exciting than a lot of the stuff that passes through my lab. And it’s a good excuse to play some games.

The trouble is, the Shield Tablet arrived on my doorstep late last week, so I’ve only had a few days with it. I haven’t yet run it through the full gauntlet of tests we typically use on tablets. I have, however, succeeded in playing a bunch of games on Nvidia’s latest creation. I’ve also learned a few things about what this premium tablet is like on the road during a brief jaunt down to Portland.

The bottom line: the Shield Tablet is a truly compelling mobile gaming platform. Judging by my early impressions, I’d say it’s a pretty sweet tablet, too.

The complete package

Although the new Shield is more than just a tablet, its slate credentials are probably the best place to start. The big-ticket item on its specs list is Nvidia’s Tegra K1 processor, whose integrated GPU is based on the same Kepler GPU architecture as most desktop GeForce chips. The onboard graphics component has one DirectX 11-class SMX unit with 192 shader processors. To put that number into perspective, the high-end GeForce GTX 780 Ti has 15 SMX units, while the low-end GT 640 employs two. Half a budget desktop GPU is a lot of horsepower for a mobile SoC.

On the CPU side, the K1 has quad ARM Cortex-A15 cores clocked up to 2.2GHz. These off-the-shelf cores are similar those found in the old Tegra 4, so they’re not a big upgrade over the last generation. They’re also not the custom, 64-bit “Denver” cores Nvidia teased when it introduced the K1 in January. We haven’t heard much about the Denver-based version of the Tegra K1 since early this year.

In any case, the Shield tablet feels plenty smooth. Thanks to 2GB of RAM, it also remains responsive under heavy multitasking. I’ve yet to encounter a situation where the tablet has felt slow.

Processor Nvidia Tegra K1 (Quad ARM Cortex-A15 @ 2.2GHz)
Graphics Kepler-based GPU with 192 shader ALUs
Memory 2GB
Display 8″ IPS panel with 1920×1200 resolution (283 PPI)
Storage 16/32GB eMMC

Up to 128GB via Micro SD

Wireless 802.11n Wi-Fi (dual-band 2.4/5GHz)

Bluetooth 4.0 LE

4G LTE (32GB only)

Ports 1 Micro USB (host and device support)

1 analog headphone/microphone

Cameras 5MP rear, 5MP front
Battery 19.75Wh
Dimensions 8.8″ x 5.0″ x 0.36″ (221 x 126 x 9.2 mm)
Weight 0.86 lbs (390 g)
OS Android 4.4.2

The most recent 4.4.2 “KitKat” version of Android deserves some of the credit for the Shield Tablet’s snappy feel. Nvidia has left the OS largely intact, save for a few little touches tied to the controller and stylus. The environment is as close to pure Android as I’ve seen outside a Nexus device. Even the pre-installed software payload is reasonably light, with a couple of note-taking apps, a gorgeous painting program, and the requisite Shield client.

Our sample also came loaded with a copy of popular side-scroller Trine 2, whose lush visuals look especially beautiful on the Shield Tabet’s IPS display. I haven’t yet to measured the screen’s output with our colorimeter, but the colors are vivid, and the 1920×1200 resolution delivers crisp images and text. The viewing angles are excellent, too, and the backlight seems uniform and free of bleed.

My only complaint is that the backlight doesn’t have enough juice to overpower reflections in brighter environments. The tablet was still usable on the sunny side of the car as we trekked south this past weekend; it just fared better in the shade. Pretty much every other tablet on the market has similar problems with direct sunlight.

Nvidia has created two versions of the Shield Tablet. The $299 variant has 16GB of flash and Wi-Fi connectivity, and it should be available for purchase starting today. The $399 flavor doubles the internal storage and adds 4G LTE, and it’s due in North America in about 90 days. Neither version offers a lot of storage for a device designed for HD content and cutting-edge games. However, the tablet’s Micro SD slot accepts memory cards up to 128GB. This secondary storage option is ripe for not only miscellaneous files, but also applications. The catch is that apps must be installed to the internal flash first. After that, moving them to the SD card takes only a few clicks in the settings menu.

Expandable storage is just one of the Shield Tablet’s many perks. The 802.11n Wi-Fi communicates on dual bands, the Mini HDMI 1.4a port facilitates easy big-screen output, the GPS works without the assistance of Wi-Fi, and the Micro USB port supports host and device modes. 5MP cameras are found front and rear, while dual speakers with separate bass ports flank the front face. Although the speakers lack the range and power to challenge decent external units and headphones, they sound surprisingly good for a device that’s just 0.36″ (9.2 mm) thick.

At 0.86 lbs (390 g), the Shield is a little heavier than comparable tablets. It’s still light enough to hold in one hand, and the chassis has a reassuring density that reminds me of the old Motorola Razr. There’s minimal flex in the frame and barely any deflection in the touchscreen. The fit and finish appear to be good overall, though I wish the power button protruded just a smidgen more. It’s a slightly shorter than the volume rocker—and noticeably more difficult to activate.

The only accessory that ships with the Shield Tablet is a capacitive stylus, which slides discreetly into the tablet’s body when not in use. The built-in handwriting recognition seems smart enough to compensate for my poor penmanship, and the shaped tip makes it easy to draw lines of different thicknesses. There is, however, some noticeable input lag that requires further investigation with my high-speed camera. Expect super-slow-motion doodling in our in-depth review.

Responsiveness definitely isn’t an issue for the accompanying gamepad. This wireless unit has a Wi-Fi Direct interface with lower latency and higher bandwidth the Bluetooth link typically used for mobile game controllers. Nvidia says the extra bandwidth enables higher-quality audio streaming for the gamepad’s headset jack. The connection can switch between 2.4GHz and 5GHz communication to avoid network congestion, the company says, and a single Shield Tablet can host four controllers simultaneously.

Like every other modern gamepad, the Shield controller has dual analog sticks, triggers, and the usual mix of buttons. It also includes Android navigation buttons, dedicated volume controls, and a triangular touchpad. There’s even an integrated microphone that works nicely with Android’s speech recognition.

The gamepad is sold separately for $59, which doesn’t seem unreasonable given the extra features and premium overall feel. Too bad frequently-touched elements like the triggers, directional pad, and buttons are covered in glossy black plastic that easily picks up fingerprints and smudges. At least the controller’s matte surfaces are reasonably resistant to blemishes.

The other accessory is the $39 Shield Cover. This piece is anchored to one edge of the Shield Tablet via magnets, and it folds around the back to serve as a kickstand. Two positions are available: one that props up the tablet at about 60° and another, pictured above, with an even steeper angle. Both configs work well enough on a stationary desk, but the stand doesn’t work as well sitting on my lap. The angles are too steep, requiring serious slouching to get a dead-on view of the screen. Also, the relatively small base makes the whole contraption a quite tippy, especially when rumbling down the I-5’s rough pavement at highway speeds.


A true portable gaming console

The Shield Tablet offers a range of gaming options, including native Android titles, PC games streamed from GeForce-equipped PCs, and compatibility with cloud services based on Nvidia’s Grid technology. That list doesn’t even include the extras, like support for ShadowPlay-style local recording and live broadcasting to Twitch. Nvidia has expanded the Shield’s mission beyond simply playing games.

The possibilities are too broad to explore fully over just a few days, so I concentrated on two ways of gaming with the Shield Tablet: native Android games and streaming from the PC. Those are likely to be the most popular choices, at least among the PC enthusiasts who frequent TR.

Nvidia contends that the Tegra K1’s beefy graphics hardware enables a different class of mobile games, and it has the PC ports to prove it. Trine 2 looks absolutely gorgeous on the Shield Tablet. So does Portal 2, which was released on the Tegra 4-based Shield Portable but features extra eye candy for the K1-based tablet. These two games are part of a handful of exclusives for Shield devices.

Playing Portal 2 while barreling down the highway drove home the fact that the Shield Tablet is a whole different class of gaming device. The processor is powerful enough to produce rich visuals, the screen is large enough to appreciate them, and the controller ties everything together with responsive, natural input. I’m often frustrated by the clunky touchscreen controls of typical tablet games, but that’s just not an issue when the Shield controller is riding shotgun.

Nvidia’s Shield Hub app lists loads of other controller-friendly Android games. I tried Rochard, a puzzle-laced PlayStation 3 import; Cordy 2, which is somewhat like Sonic the Hedgehog; and Riptide GP 2, and Android staple. All of them ran fluidly on the Shield Tablet. The controller feel and integration were excellent across the board, too.

Lots of mobile titles were designed for touchscreens rather than physical gamepads. Fortunately, Nvidia’s Game Mapper software has profiles for “hundreds of top Android games.” These profiles can be edited with ease and shared with others. There’s even a gesture recorder that maps touchscreen actions to controller buttons. Pretty slick.

Yep, that’s Batman: Arkham Origins running on the Shield Tablet. Well, it’s actually running on a desktop rig with a GeForce GTX 680. The output was piped to the tablet via Nvidia’s GameStream software and my home Wi-Fi network. GameStream uses the host GPU to encode in-game footage before passing it to the Shield’s Tegra SoC for decoding and display. The setup process is very straightforward, but you’ll need a GTX 650 or better to participate.

The quality of the wireless connection is also important. Arkham Origins was the first game I tried, and it streamed surprisingly smoothly using the basic 802.11n router provided by my ISP. But the next game, Shift 2 Unleashed, was mired by frequent bouts of lag that ruined the experience completely. I’m inclined to blame the Actiontec router, which isn’t on Nvidia’s list of GameStream-ready units. Asus’ RT-N66U is on that list, and the company hooked me up with one to use for testing.

This dual-band 802.11n offering pushes speeds up to 450Mbps, and setting it up took all of about five minutes from start to finish. I didn’t even have to download anything. After connecting to the RT-N66U via web browser, the unit identified an IP conflict with my existing router and fixed the problem automatically. It also detected a new firmware release, which was downloaded and applied with little more than a mouse click.

With my wireless network up to code, I mainlined a series of big-name PC titles. Shift 2, Just Cause 2, and Battlefield 4 played flawlessly. They lost a little visual fidelity due to video compression and GameStream’s propensity to scale back the resolution and detail settings, but they still looked good and felt responsive. Playing BF4 on an 8″ tablet pretty much blew my mind. I mean, just look at it:

The only thing missing was a keyboard and mouse. As much as I like the Shield controller, it’s no match for the ideal FPS input scheme. So, I switched gears and perspectives for a tour of Watch Dogs‘ open world.

This game is better-suited to console-style controllers, and it was lag-free and enjoyable as long as I stayed on foot. I encountered some odd hitching when driving vehicles, though. The same behavior persisted when playing locally on the host PC, suggesting the issue is unrelated to GameStream.

I did run into a streaming-related issue with Tomb Raider, which showed a blank screen despite the audio and inputs working properly. Dunno what happened there, but it seems like a temporary glitch. Scott hasn’t had the same problems with Tomb Raider on his first-gen Shield handheld.

Most of the games I tried have official GameStream support, but players aren’t limited to those titles. Unsupported games can be added manually, and Steam’s Big Picture interface can be streamed, as well. Big Picture streaming covers everything from the Steam store to game libraries. However, there’s no guarantee that games will run properly.

Correct input mapping seems to be the biggest challenge. In Mark of the Ninja, for example, the standard controls only worked for me in the game’s levels. Navigating the menus involved fumbling around with the touchpad, while jumping from the levels to those menus required hitting the “Esc” key via the controller’s pop-up keyboard. The gamepad’s extra control mechanisms should be robust enough to negotiate most titles.

The majority of my gaming time was spent watching the Shield Tablet’s 8″ display, which is tiny compared to the 50-incher in my living room. That’s where “console mode” comes in. This feature pipes the tablet’s display output to a big-screen TV (or PC monitor) over HDMI. It works with standard Android apps in addition to local and streaming games, and it’s way better than looking at a small screen. If you already have a decent desktop gaming rig, then console mode is a great way to bring those games into the living room without springing for a separate home-theater PC.

Nvidia recommends a wired Ethernet connection for streaming games in console mode, which one would have to connect via a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, but I found it wasn’t necessary. The Shield Tablet’s Wi-Fi connection is quick enough to avoid obvious lag, at least when connected to the Asus router on my home network. I’ve left all the streaming settings at their “auto” defaults so far, but the Shield Hub app has options to adjust GameStream’s bit rate and frame rate to match the user’s network performance. Conveniently, those options have different profiles for streams initiated over Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and remote connections.


A lot of tablet, plus more

After a few days with the Shield Tablet, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. There are still other gaming options to explore and a boatload of empirical tests to run. I also need to spend time using the thing as more than just a gaming machine. It’s clear the new Shield is capable of playing multiple roles, but questions remain about the stylus, the screen, the battery life, and more.

Even my short time with the Shield Tablet reveals that Nvidia got a lot of things right. The controller is excellent, with console-grade hardware and smart enhancements for both local and streaming games. The tablet is stacked with sensible extras like expandable storage and flexible connectivity. And the OS is unfettered by awkward skins and unnecessary accoutrements. If I were to make a list of “stuff I want in an Android slate,” it would closely resemble the Shield Tablet’s spec sheet.

Among those individual elements, no one thing stands out above the others. What sticks with me the most so far is how everything comes together—including the optional accessories, the subtle software enhancements, and the GameStream infrastructure—to form a tightly integrated whole. The Shield Tablet seems perfectly capable of standing on its own, but it’s an altogether more impressive product with everything else in tow.

Going all in on the Shield Tablet and its sidekicks isn’t cheap. You’ll have to shell out about $400 for the 16GB version with the controller and cover. The more I think about it, though, the more it starts to makes sense. The Android market is littered with low-cost tablets that skimp here and there to hit budget price points. There’s room for a premium solution to deliver a better experience. If the rest of the experience lives up to Shield Tablet’s gaming prowess, this thing could be worth every penny for gamers and discerning enthusiasts alike.

Comments closed
    • Voldenuit
    • 6 years ago

    It’s arrived!

    OnTrac delivers on time, as always. Good job, guys.

    First impressions: Feels solid, rubberized back is comfortable to the touch, edges are a little sharp but not unduly so. Has the heft of a light hardback, but obviously is denser than paper.

    Screen is nice and crisp, colors are a little warm. Watched some music videos on it and they look great, speakers are very good for a device of this size, no tinniness or rattling.

    Comes with ES file explorer preinstalled, will have to check to see if it has write access to /externalsd once my samsung pro 64 GB microsd card arrives in the mail. Using ESFE to access my windows directory shares.

    First impressions very solid. This is my first tablet, though (and first full-time Android device), so my expectations might be different, and I do have a bit of a learning curve with the OS (so far restricted to troubleshooting the SO’s Samsung Galaxy note 3).

      • Voldenuit
      • 6 years ago

      OK, some updates.

      Tried out the direct stylus 2 – it’s very good. The ex has a Thinkpad X230T with a wacom active digitizer + stylus, and the shield tablet’s passive stylus is actually better than the Thinkpad’s in many ways. It’s more responsive (I didn’t notice any of the slowdowns that Geoff did), fluid, and accurate than the Thinkpad, and the pressure sensitivity seems to work pretty well (only used it for note taking in Evernote and Write. It won’t compete with, say a Wacom Bamboo, but it’s easily the best passive stylus out there and as good or better than some active implementations.

      Battery life – just… wow. From reading some of the reviews, I expected the Shield Tablet to have poor to middling battery life. Not so. Playing Cytus Lambda for 3.5 hrs (hey, it’s addictive), I had 47% battery left from full. Granted, this isn’t Half Life 2, but as long as you’re not pounding the GPU with something intensive, the tablet seems to take Android games in its stride. I didn’t even activate any extreme power saving featurs (wifi was on the whole time and the screen brightness was actually a little too high at 70%, but I didn’t want to stop playing to adjust it :p).

      I did notice that as the tablet warmed up over the extended session (it never became uncomfortable or unpleasant to hold, the center back section seemed to get a little softer and flexier. Nothing serious, and might be due to thermal expansion.

      I know some people are still skeptical over some aspects of the shield tablet (I was one of them when the tablet was first announced a couple weeks ago) , but from my perspective, at least, this is the most well-rounded tablet out there right now, with a convergence of features and performance that competing tablets just can’t match. Jack of all trades, master of some. What more could you ask for?

    • Krogoth
    • 6 years ago

    This is another proof of concept prototype pitched as a novelty item for fanboys.

    The Shield was doomed from the start as a viable mobile gaming platform. It offers nothing compelling over the existing incumbents. Its software library is too small and offers nothing compelling. The hardcore PC crowd don’t care for portable gaming devices.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 6 years ago

    The things that bother me about this tablet are based around a few things:

    1) It misses the point of tablets. Tablets are meant to have great displays that emphasize still images and are used in media consumption like reading your emails, web browsing, watching Netflix, playing the rare simple game, etc. If you want to stream to your TV, you buy an Android TV imo.

    2) The peripherals drive up the cost in the worst possible way. I mean, they aren’t even hiding they really want $100 more for this tablet than they’re charging. $39 + $59 = $98. Seriously, $39 for a fold-up case like the Poetic case I got for my Nexus 7 2013 for less than $10? The worst part is there won’t be any competing cases because we’re talking about a niche tablet fielded by nVidia directly because they can’t get any OEM’s on board. The controller not working with other devices even though it uses Wifi Direct and should (in theory) be able to work with PC’s is just icing on the cake. Imagine that controller as the best SteamOS/Big Picture Mode controller ever due mostly to the touchpad and the microphone.

    3) More performance–high end performance–is great to us power users in PC land who have a fetish for more power (insert the Tim the Tool Man grunt), but the reality is the vast majority of users are going to choose the cheaper but good enough device to serve their tablet needs. We’ll buy a Roku or maybe an Android TV or an AppleTV or whatever to hook to our TV to hook to our tablet. The idea of buying a tablet to hook to your TV to hook to a controller sounds an awful lot like the same kind of logic that made Razer think a gamer tablet running Windows would work out to huge sales even if priced at $1k or that made MS think going “Touch First” for Windows made a lick of sense.

    4) I think nVidia doesn’t get what tablets are really about just like they didn’t get what smartphones are really about. Unlike PC’s where performance is king or even performance, then per watt are king, with tablets performance is NOT king. Performance is not even close to the top of what’s important. Display quality is near the top. Battery life is near the top. Price is at the top for users who didn’t buy something Apple. People looking at Android are going to be looking at something Nexus for around $200 at 7″ with “good enough” performance or a $300 + $100 in peripheral costs with an inferior display and “awesome” performance in graphics that are let down by slightly inferior SSD performance and an inferior, somewhat dark (by comparison) display. Trading off that display and pokey SSD, you get 1″ more display than a Nexus 7, the option to hook to your TV in an Android TV-kind way that’ll almost certainly cost $99 in a couple of months, and you get to pay $100 more for just the tablet, $339 for the tablet plus the case (compared to $210 for the Nexus 7 + equivalent Poetic case), and a full $398 for the full reason you’d even desire better performance in your tablet (ie., a controller). And that’s all for a tablet with only 16 GB. I happened to get my Nexus 7 2013 with 32 GB for $205. So, tack on another $100 to get marginally useful LTE plus that extra 16 GB of flash.

    5) Combining 32 GB with LTE seems to miss the point that if you have LTE you have less need for more space since you can stream in more content and save less locally. If anything, you should be choosing between 16 GB and LTE or 32 GB with just Wifi at the same $299 instead of them artificially boosting the price difference between the two sizes. Especially in 2014 when 16 GB tablets should be dead anyway.

    So in short, while I respect the addition of Kepler to the tablet and I am glad that K1 exists, I find this tablet to be another niche device in a line of niche devices destined to have little impact and further compound nVidia’s overall problem of not being able to credibly branch out from their GPU strength in PC’s and turn that into a viable way into tablets or smartphones.

    At this point, I think they need to focus Tegra K1 on the one thing they could REALLY dominate: Android TV. Get that as ubiquitous, really ramp up the speeds in boxes wider than a tablet, and the potential is there to show consoles up in a generation or two if they keep iterating on Tegra based around looser thermal limits.

    But tablets seem as lost to nVidia as smartphones and servers were when nVidia pulled out.

      • Voldenuit
      • 6 years ago

      A few thoughts:

      [quote<]1) It misses the point of tablets. Tablets are meant to have great displays that emphasize still images and are used in media consumption[/quote<] I see your point, but tbh, the shield tablet's display is pretty good compared to most laptops (even ones with IPS screens). It's only against the latest crop of tablet screens that its color gamut and accuracy are wanting. So it's not the best tablet for editing RAW images, but for things like movies (which don't have anywhere near 80% sRGB space) it should be fine. Conversely, it's arguable that by your metric, most other tablets make poor media consumption devices because they prioritize thinness over putting bigger speakers in. The front facing speakers on the shield tablet (and subjective reports that the speakers are prety good) were one of the key factors that influenced my decision to buy. [quote<]2) The peripherals drive up the cost in the worst possible way. [/quote<] No argument there. No PC support for Shield controller = no sale from me. If they add in support via drivers at a later date, I might consider it. The cover seems pretty nice, though, with some nice touches, like wake/sleep on open/close and some clever flap design (mini flap to expose rear camera, lots of screen angle positions). Maybe not $39 nice, but it was worth a purchase from me. [quote<]3) More performance--high end performance--is great to us power users in PC land [/quote<] I admitted as much that my preference for more CPU+GPU power probably doesn't mean as much in tablet land, and that most *(but not all) tablets are essentially commodity devices. But I do think there is a market niche there for nvidia, albeit probably a small one. On the plus side, a device that's faster than the rest of the crop right now is probably going to fare better in the future than a $100 chinese tablet with a weak SoC. I'm sure people who rooted a nook color back in the day know what I'm talking about. [quote<]4) I happened to get my Nexus 7 2013 with 32 GB for $205.[/quote<] Lack of expandable storage in the Nexus 7 killed my interest in it. Not everyone cares, but not everyone doesn't, either. [quote<]5) Combining 32 GB with LTE seems to miss the point [/quote<] No argument there. EDIT: just a few minor extra points.

    • anotherengineer
    • 6 years ago

    A few things Geoff.

    ” Also, the relatively small base makes the whole contraption a quite tippy, especially when rumbling down the I-5’s rough pavement at highway speeds.”

    -If you live in Canada what are you doing on an Interstate Hwy?
    -What are you doing with it open in a moving vehicle, isn’t that like texting and driving?

    3rd it’s actually a 1920×1200 16:10 ratio screen!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Dissonance
      • 6 years ago

      I was a passenger in the vehicle 😉 And the I-5 is the easiest way to get to Portland from Vancouver.

    • USAFTW
    • 6 years ago

    The big question for me now is, this or iPad mini retina?

      • Chrispy_
      • 6 years ago

      One has Android, one doesn’t.
      Why would you want the burden of iOS unless you’ve already invested in the ecosystem?

        • USAFTW
        • 6 years ago

        I’m not really a tablet guy, I’m more into PC stuff. But as it is right now I would say iOS 7 has a nicer interface and better quality control in their app store. What do you mean by “burden of iOS”?
        I’m currently using a Nexus 7 2012 model, and I can say unequivocally that the experience until 4.4.4 has been discouraging and painful. Relatively frequent crashes (The screen froze, sound becomes static, and after what feels like a life time of ear-scratching noise, boom! Google logo!) Not enough tablet optimized apps, and the silver color band around the thing has started to fade to bare black plastic.

          • Chrispy_
          • 6 years ago

          This isn’t really the place for an iOS vs Android debate, but each has its advantages and disadvantages.

          One is open, free, flexible, customisable, modular, is easy to write apps for, and runs on (by far) the greatest number of handsets.
          It also has the largest number of apps but is the largest target for malware and spyware.

          The other is not. The US alone is propping up Apple sales and it has stopped growing because eveyone in the US who wants an iOS device pretty much has one. Meanwhile, Android is bringing computing to hundreds of millions of new users every year and the growth is absolutely staggering; iOS and Android were at parity, with equal share just four years ago. Right now, twelve android devices sell for every iOS device.

          Essentially, all the figures show that iOS will be as irrelevant as Blackberry, Nokia and Windows Phone: Look at [url=<]the rate of Android growth[/url<] and try to say with a straight face that iOS will have significant marketshare in another three years.

            • David
            • 6 years ago

            In another three years the market share will still be significant and at about the same spot it was three years ago. It’s likely Apple will still make more money from mobile than Samsung as well. It’s likely that IOS will continue to generate more App revenue than Android does as well. It doesn’t matter if Android owns the market if almost every manufacturer is being propped up by investors instead of floating on profits.

            Despite Android owning 80% of the market, developers still treat it as second class. As someone who owns both an iPad and various Android devices(including my phone), I know this with absolute certainty. I don’t care if I can dig in to the file system if half my apps are essentially crappy web apps shoved through the Play store. That alone is enough to interest me in iPhone 6 rumors despite currently being invested in the Android ecosystem. For years I’ve been hoping for Android quality to reach parity with IOS. It just hasn’t happened, and it’s probably not going to. If I’m going to be locked in to an os it may as well be the one with good apps.

        • David
        • 6 years ago

        You realize Android is also an ecosystem, right?

      • Rectal Prolapse
      • 6 years ago

      ipad mini retina (or non-retina) = bad color gamut. Check the reviews of the ipad mini’s display online – I think you only get about 70% of the sRGB color space, compared to near 100% for ipad3/4/air and most android tablets (Nexus 7 etc.).

      Crappy display and you pay nearly $300 for? No way!

      EDIT: Links:

      [url<][/url<] [url<][/url<]

        • sschaem
        • 6 years ago

        But its still a better screen from what I can tell.

        Like their tegra note, this screen is highly, HIGHLY, reflective. Making any test under lab control worthless if what you see in the screen, is your face…

        Also brightness… Combine both, and the result is very limiting.

        I haven’t done a side by side, but I should expect the ipad mini display to destroy the shield tablet in real life usage.

        Screen are more then pixel count and color saturation, dont be fooled by lab reviews.

        • USAFTW
        • 6 years ago

        Thanks for the info, not something I’d expect. Not even bothered to read a full review because I was convinced it would be good, but that seems questionable for me now.

    • Voldenuit
    • 6 years ago

    Did it. Pulled the trigger.

    Ordered the 16 GB Shield Tablet and the magnetic cover.

    Didn’t get the wifi controller for now since I’m not all that interested in gaming. Will wait and see first.

    • fredsnotdead
    • 6 years ago

    Another use for a tablet with stylus like this, that I suspect no-one has implemented, is as a drawing tablet like the ones Wacom makes. Would love to be able to connect it to a PC via USB and use it to draw, edit photos, etc.

      • Deanjo
      • 6 years ago


        • fredsnotdead
        • 6 years ago

        Thanks for that link, Deanjo.

        How about that, someone out there thinks like I do. I feel sorry for them.

        Their website says “(Windows and Android coming soon!)” so there’s hope for those of us in the non-fruity crowd, although I think my original Nexus 7’s 1280X800 resolution is a little too low for this use. A reason to buy a new toy!

    • Anonymous Hamster
    • 6 years ago

    > Playing Portal 2 while barreling down the highway [….]

    That conjured up a frightening image!

    Presumably, you were not also driving at the same time.

    (Or were you in fact inside of a barrel?)

    • ChangWang
    • 6 years ago

    If they offered a 64GB SKU without LTE for $399, this would have been a no brainer! I have a lotta content on Google Play. Would be nice to have storage without the need to deal with an SD card.

    • sschaem
    • 6 years ago

    The screen look extremely reflective in that last shot 🙁

    • CampinCarl
    • 6 years ago

    So, the article mentioned that the tablet is pretty close to stock Android. That’s great, as the stock Android OS is pretty fantastic. However, I’m curious if the Shield will be updated in the same cadence that the regular Android OS is? Or would it stagnate at 4.4.2 for a while until they get around to updating?

    • drfish
    • 6 years ago

    This is nice but I’d get a lot more utility out of a well built Temash based tablet running Win8.1 and Steam.

    Oh wait…

    • NeelyCam
    • 6 years ago

    Oh. So NVidia wins [i<]again[/i<]. This is getting kinda boring. Where's the competition?

      • YukaKun
      • 6 years ago

      I wouldn’t call winning, when they’re making their own tablet based on a popular ARM design. No one is getting the Tegra K1 for design wins. And they haven’t announced (as far as I know) any design wins either.

      As good as it might be and all that, Qualcomm is the real winner in the tablet and phone space hands down. This is still a mere “showcase” for nVidia, hoping the hype can save them.


        • BabelHuber
        • 6 years ago


        I bought the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet in April. I considered the TF701 with Tegra 4, but in the end buying a tablet with Snapdragon 801 seemed more sensible:

        I had the Asus TF201 and TF700 (after the former crashed hard on concrete, which installed the spiderman app).

        Only the games from Tegra Zone were Nvidia-optimized. E.g. Gameloft games ran at low settings even when the tablet was new. OTOH they looked much better on my SGS2, even though the Tegra 3 was faster back then.

        In 2012, lots of new games were released in the Tagra Zone, but the supply has dried up meanwhile. In 2013 hardly any new game showed up, and I don’t assume things will be better in 2014.

        I would love to see some competition in the tablet SoC space, I do not want Qualcomm to become the Intel of Android.

        But Nvidia’s track record in this business leaves no room for optimism for me:

        – When the first Honeycomb-equipped tablets were released in 2011, almost all of them had the Tegra 2 SoC (Motorola Xoom, Asus TF101, Lenovo, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Acer just to name a few)

        – In 2012, Asus, Toshiba and Acer still used the Tegra 3, but overall it had less design wins

        – In 2013, the Tegra 4 was used by the Asus TF701 and some Acer tablet, but AFAIK that’s basically it. Nvidia released the first Shield and an EVGA-branded Nvidia tablet, but both were niche products.

        – In 2014, the Tegra K1 is used only by Nvidia-devices and some niche tablets. Major brands are completely missing AFAIK.

        Compare this with the Snapdragon 801 (LTE and non-LTE): You have Samsung phones and tablets (SGS5, Galaxy Note 10.4 2014 edition LTE), Sony phones and tablets (Z2, Z2 tablet), LG phones etcetc.

        So what do developers do? Of course they optimize for the mass-market devices first.

        So people who buy this Nvidia-tablet should not expect much optimized Android games, which IMO invalidates the ‘Android gaming tablet’ value.

        Of course for people who are in for the Shield’s exclusive features, like streaming PC games, it looks different and the tablet could be a good buy. Just don’t expect too much.

          • Voldenuit
          • 6 years ago

          As recently as a month ago, rumors were saying that the HTC Volantis/Google Nexus 9 would have a ’64-bit Tegra K1′ SoC. HAve those rumors been debunked?

          Obviously, if true, this would be different to the A15-based Tegra K1 in the Shield Tablet, which is a 32-bit quad-core part, but nvidia’s roadmaps do have a 64-bit dual core Denver SoC also marketed as ‘Tegra K1’ due in 2014 (nvidia rebranding a product? perish the thought!).

          Tegra might become more mass market than it has in the past if this were to pan out.

            • BabelHuber
            • 6 years ago

            [quote<]As recently as a month ago, rumors were saying that the HTC Volantis/Google Nexus 9 would have a '64-bit Tegra K1' SoC. HAve those rumors been debunked?[/quote<] I would like Nvidia to supply a Nexus device - the high-end ARM SoC market shurely needs more competition. But I'll believe it when I see it...

    • Chrispy_
    • 6 years ago

    Screw tablet gaming with a controller, having to carry around a wireless controller and needing a surface you can prop the tablet up on is a deal-breaker. The tablet and controller are cumbersome and awkward as a couple.

    I think this is just a really nice $299 tablet. KitKat, nice screen, good size, forward-facing stereo speakers, and a good hardware spec. I’m interested in it for all the wrong reasons.

      • Voldenuit
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<] I'm interested in it for all the wrong reasons.[/quote<] I don't think you're the only one. I have little interest in gamestreaming to a tablet I have to prop up on a surface and tote an extra controller around for, but I [i<]am[/i<] interested in a 16:10 tablet with good CPU and GPU specs*, expandable storage, decent (could be better) screen and front-facing speakers. And good (browsing) battery life. Right now, the shield tablet is ticking all those boxes for me. * This could be a side effect of my PC enthusiast mindset, which may or may not be applicable to the tablet space. Basically, I'm used to provisioning more power than I need for insurance and to hedge against obsolescence. I'm not saying this is necessarily the most rational mindset (after all, SoC evolution in the tablet space happens quicker than in PC space), but it's the one that speaks to me at the moment.

    • Voldenuit
    • 6 years ago

    I have to say, I was a skeptic when the shield tablet was first announced, but after reading Anandtech’s review, this is a seriously impressive piece of kit.

    It’s still going to hinge a lot on the software, though. If there remains nothing besides old PC ports and android games (which will hardly tax the SoC) on the Shield, it’s going to be a hard sell software-wise.

    I think nvidia needs to push this harder to build up a large install base, or the chicken and egg problem of software support will remain, uh, embryonic. Bundle the cover or controller as a promotional offer, or release a 32 GB SKU without LTE for ppl who aren’t interested in cellular data.

    At the very least, color me impressed.

      • w76
      • 6 years ago

      That’d be my only complaint, 32GB coming with LTE. I don’t care to pay for LTE on a tablet personally, rather just tether off the phone.

    • MathMan
    • 6 years ago

    A bit surprised about the comment about the ‘pedestrian CPU’? A15s are supposed to be pretty beefy and there’s 4 of them?

    How do they compare to competing CPUs in the market?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      It’s a matter of perspective I think. Compared to other mobile CPUs like Snapdragon or Atom or AMD E-series, they’re fairly beefy. Compared to full-fat CPUs from Intel, they’re loafers.

      FWIW since we’re talking about tablets, I’d go with beefy over pedestrian, myself.

        • MathMan
        • 6 years ago

        Looks like a bunch of NDAs were lifted. Over at Anandtech, they say that ‘other than the A7 and x86 SOC, the CPU performance is well ahead of the competition’.

        You’re probably right that it was comparing against the fat stuff…

      • Damage
      • 6 years ago

      Yeah, the Cortex-A15 is still a pretty large and fast core, as these things go. But have you seen a die shot of Denver? They’re like 2X the size.

      And Denver’s 64-bit capable, like the Cortex-A57 and Apple’s Cyclone, which is the next big thing in the Android space.

      Compared, also, to the Kepler SMX in the Tegra K1, the Cortex-A15 cores are quite a bit less sexy. Esp. since the Tegra 4 has A15 cores.

      EDIT: Ok, “pedestrian” really didn’t seem fair. Bugged me, too, so I changed it.

        • MathMan
        • 6 years ago

        It’s interesting that the K1 A15s are quite a bit better than those of Tegra 4.

        But who knows what Denver will bring. Given their size (do we actually know the size?) they better be faster. I don’t think we’ve seen a die shot: the marketing images at CES don’t count. 🙂

          • Damage
          • 6 years ago

          Maybe not, but we know they’re putting two of ’em into the spot where four A15s go.

        • w76
        • 6 years ago

        The lack of Denver or significant tweaks, compared to the GPU its mated to, and the premium components surrounding it, made me think pedestrian too. But not fair, I guess; it’s a good mobile chip surrounded by great parts.

        • Benetanegia
        • 6 years ago

        But they are double the size tho? For instance, do you have any confirmation from NVidia that those are actual die shots? Because a lot of people think they are just a representation made on photoshop (with a big ass SMX for emphasis). When I look at them I tend to agree. I don’t know if they are accurate representations of how the die would look in reality, but they don’t look like actual shots at all. Then… take the 5 cores out, put 2 big fat cores…

      • Billstevens
      • 6 years ago

      Agreed, this looks like it may make a great travel tablet for media. Load up some movies and browse the web. If you leave off the controller you are getting a lot for only $300 which is a far cry cheaper than an i-Pad air or a high end Samsung tab. I would have to test it out to see if the size was enough compared to a larger 10 inch pad but other than that this things looks great.

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