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. 

 

Battery Life
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  • Revdarian - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    I am sorry but you really felt comfortable with a "mobile" gaming device that weight over half a kilo for how long?
    How comfortable/uncomfortable was it reported by anyone else who actually tried it for prolonged time?
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    Because it spreads a lot of its area out, it really isn't that bad. I definitely spent at least two hours playing nonstop Borderlands 2 without thinking about it. And lots of time outdoors with the AR Drone 2.0.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • zebrax2 - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    For a gaming device review i find it a little disappointing that it seems like not a lot of time was spent playing with the device Reply
  • jasonelmore - Friday, August 02, 2013 - link

    He's been playing With shield for over three months including all of these expos him and anand have went to. I think it's safe to say he's had more playtime than any other reviewer. Reply
  • blanarahul - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    I too want a Nvidia designed phone. Reply
  • chizow - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    Who knows, after Tegra 4i launches, if Shield does well enough, that may be the next step for Nvidia. Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, August 01, 2013 - link

    If anything, this great review proves Shield is a technology showcase for Tegra 4, and how excellent it will be in a phone. Obviously active cooling will be nixed so the clocks will drop, but the battery life is substantial. Reply
  • Spunjji - Thursday, August 01, 2013 - link

    I don't understand the logic here. The clocks will have to drop so performance will as well. Power will drop as well probably - depends on leakage) but then you'll be dealing with a much, much smaller battery. To be honest it's a massive unknown at best. Reply
  • PC Perv - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    You can't be serious. So now weight is relative to shape, in your hands? And talk about the shape.

    Unbelievable how far reviews would go to put gloss on stuff that reviewers themselves will never pay for. The ranting at Google in the last page is pure gold. Talk about "entitlement mentality."
    Reply
  • chizow - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    Why isn't it serious? How weight is balanced and distributed across a surface plays a HUGE impact in how it feels in the hand. This isn't a foreign concept to just mobile devices, look at how knives, daggers, even guns are critiqued in this respect. Reply

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