I enjoyed the time I spent with NVIDIA Shield. While it isn't perfect, for NVIDIA's first consumer electronic mobile device, it's an amazingly well put together piece of kit. Build quality is so good I told Anand that I wanted to try running it over with my car. I expected NVIDIA to fumble the controller side of the handheld gaming experience, and quite honestly with Shield I have nothing to complain about. The buttons are all tactile and fluid, the analog sticks are great, and the ergonomics leave me without anything to complain about. I remember being worried about weight and balance after seeing Shield and hearing about that the 28.8 watt-hour battery inside, but the shipping device turns all of that mass into feeling like quality rather than a big burden. The one feedback point is what I already gave NVIDIA the first time seeing Shield in person – it needs a bigger 5.5-inch display and 1080p, just buy the LG Display panel used in the LG Optimus G Pro, it's phenomenal. If a smartphone can include that size display, a portable handheld gaming console of this caliber absolutely positively needs it, and that will also help viewing PC gaming content streamed over to Shield. I also strongly believe Shield needs at least a front facing camera, that can't possibly add to the BOM too much. 

Is NVIDIA Shield fun to use? It absolutely positively is. Android is still however really nascent as a gaming platform, and I wish that Google had given Shield some sort of extra special status or inclusion in the Android 4.3 love with Google Play Games and Shield as the launch vehicle. Instead it feels like NVIDIA was left to carry Shield on its own here, and that's not their fault, I just wish Google would've put two and two together, maybe a Google Play edition Shield even though it's already running stock Android 4.2.1? The games on Android are fun, there just need to be more of them, and the ones that exist need to of a higher caliber to really sell me. Of course there's always the chicken and egg argument – good Android gaming hardware really wasn't available until recently with set top consoles like Ouya or Android-running HDMI dongles, or of course the handheld format that Shield is. I enjoy playing the titles there are, there's just not quite a killer title you can point to yet. 

That's where the PC gaming part comes in, and thank goodness for it. NVIDIA's execution is arguably better than the beta tag implies, with minimal hitching during streaming, impressively low latency, and good support for a number of titles that they've promised will grow. NVIDIA's real strength is on the desktop, and this is the most logical way to leverage it, even if Tegra 4 really becomes something of a thin client in that model. I spent a lot of time enjoying Borderlands 2 from places in my house that are a lot more inviting than the task chair and Ikea desk I sit at all day. 

The Tegra 4 part of the story is impressive. Performance on the device is incredibly smooth, I thought I had seen the smoothest possible experience with the latest and greatest quad core SoCs in smartphones, Tegra 4 in this form factor is something to behold. There are parts of some apps I never knew could go so fast. I said in the Nexus 7 review that I wished whatever happened to Tegra 4 that delayed it hadn't, so we could see it in more devices. Shield was a big part of what made me feel that way, especially after seeing and using it in the flesh. 

Shield is an impressive product. It's solid, performant, and maybe Android gaming isn't really there yet, but what it does leave me wanting is for NVIDIA to make me a phone. 


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  • PC Perv - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    Sure weight balance matters.. for first 10 minutes or so. And no doubt it will be easier to hold something with evenly distributed weight than, say, something to heavy. But that doesn't mean it's absolute weight dissipate in the air because of shape. You will be holding 579g of weight no matter what. If you think 579g is "light," then I have nothing more to say. But the reviewer's bias is palpable.

    I'm looking forward to encountering someone holding this abominable. Hopefully he didn't buy this junk after reading this irresponsible "review." Look how this dude goes length to convince readers how this ugly is somehow "elegant."
  • tabascosauz - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    Who are you to hate on Brian?

    Do you seriously think that a portable game console will weigh the same as a 290g Nexus 7? It's a first step for Nvidia and it's performed well, so how did Brian write an "irresponsible review" and "convince readers how this ugly is somehow elegant"? He already said that he spent 2 hours playing BL2 and didn't feel too uncomfortable, what else do you need? Do YOU have a Nvidia Shield?
  • Spunjji - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    3DS XL: 336g
    PS Vita (3G): 279g

    Not to defend the original poster too much, but the weight is very high for a product of this sort of category and that is indeed something that can only be properly assessed by a longer period of game-play.
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    They are much less powerful, feature fewer and different (in my opinion, a bit inferior) controls, have much less battery life in them and are much less versatile. :) To think the Shield is a hand held console the kind Sony and Nintendo make is very misguided imho.
  • jeffkibuule - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    Neither are designed to be very comfortable to hold for an extended period of time. Neither are ergonomic to your hands.
  • PC Perv - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    Here is the question I pose to you: when do you think this author will realize this thing is heavy and ugly?

    Answer: when the next iteration of the Shield comes out. (If it does come out, lol) when the next version sport slimmer, lighter body then he will gush over how much improvement NV have made. He will THEN tell you how NV's first "attempt" was rather clunky and heavy (per "some" users). Until then he will be "oblivious" to the ugliness and monstrosity of this "Shield," and keep asserting how "elegant" and comfortable it is, blindshading potential buyers.

    Of course he already knows all this. But in this type of "reviews" often there is something else is at work.
  • spugm1r3 - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    Most people don't know how heavy or bulky something is, in particular if it is a joy to use, until the next iteration. I used to own an iBook that weighed just shy of 6lbs. It was hardly top of the line, but I loved it. Now, even Apple's most powerful portable is less than 5lbs.

    Other portable gaming consoles (3DS, Vita) play portable games or, at best, portable versions of console games. This plays PC games, in particular, PC games that are not exactly visual lightweights.

    Honestly, some tech websites I could understand your cynicism, but Anandtech generally does a pretty good job of keeping it honest.
  • Subzero0000 - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    579g is definitely "light". There, I said it.

    I've been using iPad2 for almost 2 years, and I tend to feel it too"light" personally.

    As for the Shield, you will hold it with two hands anyway. That weight would means nothing to a full grown man.
  • Spunjji - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link


    You're entitled to your opinion but that doesn't make it valid for everyone else. ;)
  • chizow - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    I'm not going to argue the semantics of what you wrote, you questioned whether weight is relative to shape, in the hands, and yes of course it is. Overall the impact of total weight is relative sure, but you also seem to miss the fact people have different tolerances and preferences. Some contemporary and relevant examples today include the 360 controller vs PS3 controller and the iPhone vs. Samsung Galaxy. You will find people on both sides of the fence who prefer or abhor the different weight characteristics of each, based purely on personal preference.

    As for the commentary on aesthetics, you do realize that is one of the most subjective criteria out there right? That's about as subjective as people's tastes in cars, or even computer chassis. Yet in your criticism of Brian's choice of words, you do realize you come off as every bit the extremist in your own choice of words right?

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