Our Summary and Conclusion
In case you haven’t noticed, we dig NVIDIA’s SHIELD. Everything the device was designed to do, it does well and the build quality is top notch. Playing Tegra-optimized games on SHIELD was a great experience. NVIDIA has been working closely with PC game developers for years, and their experience has obviously proven useful in working with Android game developers as well. All of the Tegra-optimized games we played “just worked”, they offered excellent graphics quality, and the controls worked flawlessly with SHIELD.
Non-Tegra optimized Android games also worked well with SHIELD, as long as the game is compatible with landscape mode. Games, like Words with Friends for example, that don’t rotate into landscape mode will still launch in portrait mode, but rotating the SHIELD onto its side is hardly ideal, obviously. With that said, because of the excellent responsiveness of the touch screen and high performance of NVIDAI's Tegra 4 SoC at the heart of SHIELD, any Android game or app that you enjoy on a smartphone or tablet is likely to run very well on SHIELD. The speed of the device and pure Android experience also make web browsing and simply navigating through the OS a pleasant experience.
Though still in beta at this time, streaming games from a PC to SHIELD is also really cool. Sports, driving, and action games (and console ports) that work well with a game controller are best suited to SHIELD, but shooters work fine too. Though personally, I found it tough to adjust to the analog sticks for shooters after decades gaming with a keyboard and mouse.
Consuming multimedia on SHIELD is great too. The 720P screen offers excellent brightness and contrast, Tegra 4 has absolutely no trouble ripping through HD video, and the custom tuned stereo speakers are some of the best we’ve heard yet, on a portable device.
At $299 though, NVIDIA’s SHIELD is probably going to be a tough sell to some folks. Portable gaming systems from Sony and Nintendo are available for less, which will make Joe Sixpack do a double take seeing SHIELD’s price tag. But that $299 goes a long way in our opinion and SHIELD, in many ways, does more. The NVIDIA SHIELD is not only a cool portable gaming device, and a powerful Android mini-tablet, but it’s a great companion to a gaming PC in our opinion too. For $299, you get one of the fastest Android tablets out there, access to a boatload of free or very affordable games, and the ability to stream games from a compatible PC. SHIELD can also easily connect to a TV though HDMI or wirelessly using a Miracast compatible receiver. Though gaming is the main focus of SHIELD, quite simply, it offers a whole lot more.
Bottom line: If you can justify the $300 price tag, we think you’ll enjoy NVIDIA’s SHIELD. We sure did.