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Nvidia Shield review roundup: Iffy software holds back the handheld's beautiful hardware

Ian Paul | Aug. 1, 2013
The Nvidia Shield sure has gone through a lot of changes in the past few weeks. After the portable Android-based gaming device was given a sturdier design, a $50 price cut, and a delayed release date, it finally started shipping on Wednesday.

The Nvidia Shield sure has gone through a lot of changes in the past few weeks. After the portable Android-based gaming device was given a sturdier design, a $50 price cut, and a delayed release date, it finally started shipping on Wednesday.

But just what is the Nvidia Shield, you ask? That's a good question, and, depending on who you ask, you'll get a different answer. To look at it, the Shield looks like an Xbox 360 controller with a flip-up, 5-inch display slapped on top.

For some, the Shield is an Android gaming device that's also capable of streaming full-fledged PC games from Nvidia's 600-series GeForce graphics cards. For others, it's a PC game streaming device that happens to play Android games. But the device also runs stock Android, turning it into a multimedia machine capable of streaming Netflix, checking out Facebook, or listening to music via Spotify.

But how does it feel? Early reviewers report mixed results.

The hardware
 

Most reviewers looking at the Nvidia Shield agree that the device's gaming controls took the Xbox 360 as its inspiration.

The Verge says the "shoulder buttons and D-pad are too much like their Xbox counterparts, all clicky and shallow." AnandTech, meanwhile, says "the [Shield's] analog trigger resistance, bumper clickiness, and analog stick friction feel remarkably like the 360."

Going deeper, the Nvidia Shield sure has a sweet set of specs, including an Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch display with 1280-by-720 resolution at 294 pixels-per-inch, 16GB of onboard memory, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, pint-sized HDMI and USB 2.0 slots, and a 28.8 Wh battery. The device itself weighs in at 1.27 pounds and is priced at $300.

Most reviewers said the Nvidia Shield was a fantastic device for watching movies thanks to its beautiful screen and surprisingly good speakers, though its 1.27-pound heft puts a hampering on the device's portability. Battery life for the device proved solid, however.

Android gaming? Not yet
 
Nvidia's Shield website highlights the Android port of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City as a standout game.

Gaming controller preference may simply be too personal to be of any help in a review, but one thing reviewers were clear on is the Nvidia Shield and the state of Android gaming. IGN said it best, noting that the Shield "is a product designed for a world where Android games have evolved into rich, immersive 3D experiences optimized for traditional gamepad controls. The trouble is, that world doesn't exist--at least, not yet."

 

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