Jul 22 AT 3:15 PM Dima Aryeh 24 Comments

NVIDIA SHIELD: Hands on

NVIDIA SHIELD Hands On

NVIDIA has been showing off the SHEILD in select places, and I got to play with one. I drove an hour to go play with it… and arrived three hours early. I thought to myself, “Was it worth waiting three hours and driving two to play with the SHIELD?” Sure, it is a cool concept, but the portable clamshell console has been done before. Why is the SHIELD so special?

I came in with an attitude I couldn’t describe as fully positive, but left incredibly impressed. I was shown the NVIDIA SHIELD, told about its design and the small details that make it amazing. And I got to finally use the controller I’ve been wondering about for so long. Could a portable controller meet my high expectations? No; it blew them away.

DSC_8465

Let’s start with the design. It’s a simple clamshell design with a 5-inch 720p display and a controller beneath it. It has the D-pad and the ABXY buttons you’re accustomed to, but it adds dual thumb sticks, dual triggers and two bumper buttons above the triggers. Throw in the five center buttons, and you’ve got yourself a fully featured controller a home console would be envious of. Above that are two speakers. On the back, you have a microUSB charging port, a mini HDMI port, a microSD slot, a 3.5mm port and a big vent. Beneath the NVIDIA logo in the front is another vent.

The build quality of the SHIELD is fantastic. It may be mostly plastic, but it has a great feel to it. Plus, there are no creaks. This is no Samsung plastic; it feels really high end. It also doesn’t feel like it’d break within a year, which is great for something portable. And at under 600 grams, it’s lighter than many tablets.

The controller is probably the most important part of any gaming device, and I was amazed by the way it was designed. At first, I doubted the integrity of the thumbsticks. No controller I’ve never used aside from the Microsoft Xbox 360 controller has ever really done thumbsticks “right.” That’s an opinion, but it’s a strong one. I fell in love with the sticks on the SHIELD. They fit my thumbs perfectly and had just the right resistance. They were a pleasure to use. I’m not sure about the longevity of the little dots on them (they wear off within a few years on a 360 controller), but that shouldn’t matter much. The rest of the buttons felt nice and were responsive.

The buttons around the large NVIDIA button are back, home, volume (which pops up on screen volume controls) and a multifunction button that pauses games. And the speakers flanking the buttons are very loud and clear, to say the least. Very impressive for the size.

DSC_8461

The software is stock Android 4.2.1. Of course, it has a few modifications here and there, but it’s pretty much stock. This paired with a Tegra 4, creates a lightning fast experience. There is also the Tegra app, which looks somewhat like a console interface (think Steam Big Picture). This is accessed by hitting the big center NVIDIA button.

DSC_8466

I only played two games on the device, but they were very enjoyable. Riptide GP 2 looked great and performed wonderfully. I opted to keep the accelerometer off and use the thumbstick for a more console-like experience, and it was awesome. I also had the pleasure of playing an emulator loaded with The Legend of Zelda for the SNES. Emulators have full controller support, so this is the perfect emu machine. Gaming was wonderful.

The reps were very nice and told me a bunch of cool info. First of all, the device doesn’t overheat from prolonged gaming. They say the device plays games for 12 hours straight while charging and never have they even gotten overly warm. I can believe it, because even on an 82 degree day, they stayed very cool. Also, the device is wonderfully balanced. It is not top heavy, and it rests in your hands perfectly. Plus with WiFi MIMO, Bluetooth, GPS and many other features, it serves as a fully functional Android device; it only lacks a data connection.

These are just my first thoughts on the device after playing with it for a mere thirty minutes. But in that half hour, NVIDIA managed to sell me on the SHIELD. I will be waiting for the release date at the end of the month to pick one up, because it’s simply that awesome. If you have a chance, head over to one of the locations and try it out. Maybe you’ll fall in love, too. Stay tuned for more content on the NVIDIA SHIELD, and let us know in the comments what you want to see about it!

Dima Aryeh is a Russian obsessed with all things tech. He does photography, is an avid phone modder (who uses an AT&T Galaxy Note II), a heavy gamer (both PC and 360), and an aspiring home mechanic. He is also an avid fan of music, especially power metal.

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  • R.S

    Nice review.

    A few questions…

    Are you a PC gamer? If so do you see yourself streaming games from your PC to the Shield, and then possibly to a big screen? I’m not a PC gamer so to me this seems perhaps a bit redundant.

    If you aren’t a PC gamer. Do you feel as if the price ($299 I believe) is worth it just to play mobile type games?

    I think if it had some sort of data connection, it would be more appealing since you wouldn’t be stuck only being able to use it at Wi-Fi locations. Though I’m sure a mobile Wi-Fi connection through your phone could fix that. However, correct me if I’m wrong, that wouldn’t allow you to stream PC games, right? If not, then IMO, it loses the advantage it has over a simpler (and probably cheaper) alternative of a Bluetooth controller and cell phone.

    • Arthur

      Another thing to keep in mind as far as playing games via streaming with Wi-Fi is that without a decent connection, you can pretty much kiss that idea goodbye. I am sure you will need no less than 6Mbps connection in order to even stream without the game breaking up and most free public Wi-Fi access points are around the 1.5 to 3Mbps range, barely enough to stream YouTube videos at 480p.

      If you have WiFi hotspot on your phone, that will drain your phone’s battery pretty quickly unless you got a external battery pack to carry around with you at all times.

      This is the closest thing available to a Android PSP if you will but whereas PSP Vita games are in the $29.99 to $49.99 range, the highest priced Android games I have seen is $6.99. Obviously in Android games you have in-app purchases that can grow that amount to well over the $6.99 entry fee but we are still talking about $6.99 to start playing as opposed to $29.99.

      Only argument for the Vita games is that on a whole, they will be longer, in some cases are higher budget games that may show up in the gameplay and graphics department.

      • http://www.androidandme.com Dima Aryeh

        Don’t forget that we are seeing higher budget games on Android! Look at Dead Trigger 2 and some Gameloft games. They’re fairly long and even include multiplayer! I think with the SHIELD promoting Tegra 4, the Tegra Zone will quickly populate with some really nice games (if the SHIELD takes off).

        • renz

          when talking about android gaming i think only nvidia are the only company that really serious to push it to the next level (graphically). they might not have the best hardware but they are willing to work with developer to take advantage the processing capabilities of tegra processor. personally i was hoping nvidia will be able to attract more premium games to android gaming scene instead the freeium one we use to play on android.

      • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

        The Final Fantasy games on Android are a bit more expensive. they range from $7 to 20. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.square_enix.android_googleplay.ffl_gp

        That being said, a device like this would make some of those more expensive games a lot more appealing.

    • http://www.androidandme.com Dima Aryeh

      I am a PC gamer, but my current PC doesn’t have a graphics card that supports streaming to the NVIDIA SHIELD. But yes, that feature would appeal to me. Who doesn’t want to play Call of Duty on the toilet?

      And I do not think NVIDIA will be releasing a mobile data connected version of the SHIELD, at least initially.

      The price is definitely very good. Consider you’re getting a high end phone with a controller on it. Tegra 4, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, touchscreen, really nice speakers, and a big battery for $299? It’s very well priced. Still a bit high for mobile games, but with Tegra Zone having some nice games, and the advent of much better games on Android in the last year, I think it’s easily worth it.

      And remember, when using a Bluetooth controller, you run into two disadvantages. 1. Latency. 2. It’ll be very top heavy. The reps at the NVIDIA event emphasized the perfect balance of the SHIELD, and it feels just wonderful in the hand. As an owner of a MOGA, it’s incomparable.

    • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

      The one hiccup there is that you have to be on the same network for this to work at the moment. You can’t take SHIELD out and about and still use the PC streaming feature.

    • ExynosHD

      There are some really high quality games. Riptide GP 2, Prince of Persia, Grand Theft Auto, Modern Combat, Nova, Arma Tactics, Conduit HD (actual console game), Dead Trigger 2, Shadowgun, NBA 2k13, Final Fantasy, Dark Night Rises, and more. All “mobile games” that outclass most dedicated handhelds games.

  • Anthony

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • R.S

      Unless you have actual proof, you shouldn’t accuse someone of having their opinion bought.

      Just because one person doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean that no one else will. Heck even if the majority of reviews say it’s crap does not mean that others aren’t allowed to like it.

    • http://www.technogasms.com Sean Riley

      Two people had a different opinion about a device?! My god you’re right clearly it must be a fix since as we all know everyone feels the same way about everything.

    • jerrbomb

      Woohoo congrats on being a troll and knocking someone’s OPINION on something like a console device.. Go put your nose in a corner..

    • http://www.androidandme.com Dima Aryeh

      I was paid in gum.

    • epps720

      shhh… we need to keep the 12 days of Tegra

  • donger

    When’s the review for this coming?

  • jonstle

    I am curious, but not sold on this device.

  • tom hardy

    I’ve had this on preorder since may. If you don’t like it move on, nvidia is aiming at a niche group of gamers. Its why they invested 10 mil into shield – also keeps the cost around 300 rather than 600 which is what tegra 4 phone would cost. I used to game on nexus 7 with a ps3 controller but after awhile it don’t feel right. The shield fixes this feeling. Oh and splashtop gaming goes perfectly with shield so even ati cards can stream PC games.

  • Elronza

    I own a 3G PS Vita and I have to admit that the Nvidia Shield is better than the PS Vita! In fact I am in the process of ordering a Shield and worndering if I should keep my PS Vita or sell it since Sony has added an update that allows smartphones and Tablets to connect to the PS3 and PS4. My 3G PS Vita is 299 same as the Nvidia Shield with the only 2 advantages it having over the Shield are 2 cameras and a 3G AT&T sim card. The Shield is way cheaper and better than the PS Vita in the long and short term because it has internal memory and uses cheap micro sd cards if you want to expand the memory. And the Nvidia Shield is soon to become an emulating beast thanks to it’s specs. Which added to its PC streaming features and Cloud Gaming thanks to Onlive and Nvidia Grid and other services soon to come the Nvidia Shield is set to become not only the best gaming value for the money but also the greatest console or handheld ever and it supports 4k resolution to top it all off.

  1. Nice review.

    A few questions…

    Are you a PC gamer? If so do you see yourself streaming games from your PC to the Shield, and then possibly to a big screen? I’m not a PC gamer so to me this seems perhaps a bit redundant.

    If you aren’t a PC gamer. Do you feel as if the price ($299 I believe) is worth it just to play mobile type games?

    I think if it had some sort of data connection, it would be more appealing since you wouldn’t be stuck only being able to use it at Wi-Fi locations. Though I’m sure a mobile Wi-Fi connection through your phone could fix that. However, correct me if I’m wrong, that wouldn’t allow you to stream PC games, right? If not, then IMO, it loses the advantage it has over a simpler (and probably cheaper) alternative of a Bluetooth controller and cell phone.

    • ArthurGuest 2 years ago

      Another thing to keep in mind as far as playing games via streaming with Wi-Fi is that without a decent connection, you can pretty much kiss that idea goodbye. I am sure you will need no less than 6Mbps connection in order to even stream without the game breaking up and most free public Wi-Fi access points are around the 1.5 to 3Mbps range, barely enough to stream YouTube videos at 480p.

      If you have WiFi hotspot on your phone, that will drain your phone’s battery pretty quickly unless you got a external battery pack to carry around with you at all times.

      This is the closest thing available to a Android PSP if you will but whereas PSP Vita games are in the $29.99 to $49.99 range, the highest priced Android games I have seen is $6.99. Obviously in Android games you have in-app purchases that can grow that amount to well over the $6.99 entry fee but we are still talking about $6.99 to start playing as opposed to $29.99.

      Only argument for the Vita games is that on a whole, they will be longer, in some cases are higher budget games that may show up in the gameplay and graphics department.

      • Don’t forget that we are seeing higher budget games on Android! Look at Dead Trigger 2 and some Gameloft games. They’re fairly long and even include multiplayer! I think with the SHIELD promoting Tegra 4, the Tegra Zone will quickly populate with some really nice games (if the SHIELD takes off).

        • renzGuest 2 years ago

          when talking about android gaming i think only nvidia are the only company that really serious to push it to the next level (graphically). they might not have the best hardware but they are willing to work with developer to take advantage the processing capabilities of tegra processor. personally i was hoping nvidia will be able to attract more premium games to android gaming scene instead the freeium one we use to play on android.

      • The Final Fantasy games on Android are a bit more expensive. they range from $7 to 20. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.square_enix.android_googleplay.ffl_gp

        That being said, a device like this would make some of those more expensive games a lot more appealing.

    • I am a PC gamer, but my current PC doesn’t have a graphics card that supports streaming to the NVIDIA SHIELD. But yes, that feature would appeal to me. Who doesn’t want to play Call of Duty on the toilet?

      And I do not think NVIDIA will be releasing a mobile data connected version of the SHIELD, at least initially.

      The price is definitely very good. Consider you’re getting a high end phone with a controller on it. Tegra 4, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, touchscreen, really nice speakers, and a big battery for $299? It’s very well priced. Still a bit high for mobile games, but with Tegra Zone having some nice games, and the advent of much better games on Android in the last year, I think it’s easily worth it.

      And remember, when using a Bluetooth controller, you run into two disadvantages. 1. Latency. 2. It’ll be very top heavy. The reps at the NVIDIA event emphasized the perfect balance of the SHIELD, and it feels just wonderful in the hand. As an owner of a MOGA, it’s incomparable.

    • The one hiccup there is that you have to be on the same network for this to work at the moment. You can’t take SHIELD out and about and still use the PC streaming feature.

    • ExynosHDGuest 2 years ago

      There are some really high quality games. Riptide GP 2, Prince of Persia, Grand Theft Auto, Modern Combat, Nova, Arma Tactics, Conduit HD (actual console game), Dead Trigger 2, Shadowgun, NBA 2k13, Final Fantasy, Dark Night Rises, and more. All “mobile games” that outclass most dedicated handhelds games.

  2. AnthonyGuest 2 years ago

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  3. When’s the review for this coming?

  4. I am curious, but not sold on this device.

  5. tom hardyGuest 2 years ago

    I’ve had this on preorder since may. If you don’t like it move on, nvidia is aiming at a niche group of gamers. Its why they invested 10 mil into shield – also keeps the cost around 300 rather than 600 which is what tegra 4 phone would cost. I used to game on nexus 7 with a ps3 controller but after awhile it don’t feel right. The shield fixes this feeling. Oh and splashtop gaming goes perfectly with shield so even ati cards can stream PC games.

  6. ElronzaGuest 2 years ago

    I own a 3G PS Vita and I have to admit that the Nvidia Shield is better than the PS Vita! In fact I am in the process of ordering a Shield and worndering if I should keep my PS Vita or sell it since Sony has added an update that allows smartphones and Tablets to connect to the PS3 and PS4. My 3G PS Vita is 299 same as the Nvidia Shield with the only 2 advantages it having over the Shield are 2 cameras and a 3G AT&T sim card. The Shield is way cheaper and better than the PS Vita in the long and short term because it has internal memory and uses cheap micro sd cards if you want to expand the memory. And the Nvidia Shield is soon to become an emulating beast thanks to it’s specs. Which added to its PC streaming features and Cloud Gaming thanks to Onlive and Nvidia Grid and other services soon to come the Nvidia Shield is set to become not only the best gaming value for the money but also the greatest console or handheld ever and it supports 4k resolution to top it all off.