The New Nvidia Shield K1 8-inch

The Best Tablet for Gaming of 2015

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Posted: December 4th, 2015

Nvidia's previous entry in the tablet market was the highly-rated Nvidia Shield Tablet. It cornered the Android Gaming Tablet market with its mix of exclusive content (Half Life 2) and ability to stream from a PC. Not only was it a great tablet for gamers, it was a top tablet in its own right, offering good specs (for the price) with no bloatware. In time for Christmas 2015 comes this updated version - named the Nvidia Shield K-1. So how good is it, and how does it compare to the 2014 version? The short version? It's pretty much the same, which nevertheless makes it the best tablet for gaming of 2015.

Form Factor & Exterior Layout

Little has changed in terms of the device's exterior. The tablet has a chunky, solid case around its 8-inch screen. The rear casing is soft and quite comfortable to hold. Where once there was a slot to house a stylus, now the hole is gone and you have to buy the stylus separately. Not much pain there - it was a strange inclusion in the first place. Stranger, but just as understandable, is the decision to cut costs by not including a charger. That's right - there's no charger included! Their reasoning is that most people already have two or three micro-USB chargers lying around their homes, and they'd rather cut costs here than on the tablet itself. Makes complete sense to me, but for the 2% of customers who take this home and realise they have NO WAY TO CHARGE IT! there will be hell to pay.

Overall, the design is essentially identical to the older model. The screen has 283 pixel per inch spread over a 1920 x 1200 resolution. The screen isn't outstanding, but it's pretty good, with good viewing angles and nice color definition. All ports (stereo speakers, micro SD, etc) are 'as you were'. Minor changes include a rear-side logo and refreshed texturing on the sides - if you didn't know what to look for you could easily confuse the two models.

It measures 221x126x9.2 mm and weighs 390 grams.

Internals and Computing Hardware

The processor is a 2.2GHz quad-core Tegra K1 - Nvidia's powerful X1 CPU seems to have been too expensive - backed up by 2GB of RAM. In fairness, the K1 can cope with most games. Internal storage is 16GB, which can be greatly increased with a micro SD card. The battery's capacity is 5,200 mAh but this won't last too long when putting the K1 through its paces - battery life is a disappointing 3 to 5 hours of intense gaming or 7/8 of normal tablet use.

Both front and rear cameras are 5MP, while there's a micro-USB port, HDMI-out, and support for WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

OS, UI and Additional Software

The K1 comes with Android 5.1.1. but an upgrade to 6.0 Marshmallow should be available sooner rather than later. Nvidia haven't done much messing about with the base Android, so there's no bloatware (unwanted software). There is a lot of game-related support software, such as the ability to connect external controllers. The Shield Store offers exclusive gaming content that can only be played on Nvidia's Tegra devices. Streaming to a TV is easy, and there's access to a cloud-based gaming service called GeForce Now. This is free for 3 months and the games available are surprisingly new.

Recording gameplay is a cinch, and broadcasting via Twitch is the work of a few button presses.

Performance in the Real World

Performance is very, very solid. Action games run smoothly with no lag and it is said the K1 will be able to play Doom 3. Benchmarks put it way ahead of the iPad Air 2 and are similar to those of the (much more expensive) iPhone 6S. Framerates are generally superb even on new games such as Star Wars Battlefront. Nvidia claim it is 2.5 times faster than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8".

What Games Can the Nvidia Shield Play?

There are more than 200 with official support and optimisation. The official Nvidia website has good info about that. Here's the link.

Pros and Cons Worth Considering

It's not that much better than the 2014 model, but is 100 dollars cheaper. Since the 2014 version was already well ahead of the curve, the 2015 model crushes its closest competitors and even stands up against much more expensive devices. Make sure you have a micro-USB charger and consider if you want a game controller, stylus or other accessories when thinking about the price.

The Ideal Nvidia Shield K1 Buyer

Gamers will love the Nvidia Shield K1 tablet. The tablet plus a controller is a genuinely attractive option and won't break the bank.

 

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Technical Specifications

Nvidia Shield K-1
 Tablet  Nvidia Shield K-1
 Rating  Ratings
 OS  Android 5.1.1
 CPU  Tegra K1 - 2.2 GHz
 Storage  16 GB
 RAM  2 GB
 Display  IPS LCD - 8.0 inch
 Resolution  1920 x 1200 px - 283 ppi
 Camera  Front 5.0 / Back 5.0 MP
 Weight  0.39 kg / 0.86 lbs
 Battery life  5.0 hours
 Released  2015-11

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Battery life comparison

Battery life of selected tablet

 Tablet   (h)   Battery life 
Nvidia Shield K-15.0Nvidia Shield K-1 tablet autonomy comparison

Compared to 5 tablets with largest battery life

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 1018.0Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 10 tablet autonomy comparison
Sony Xperia Z415.0Sony Xperia Z4 tablet autonomy comparison
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.115.0Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 tablet autonomy comparison
Microsoft Surface 214.0Microsoft Surface 2 tablet autonomy comparison
Apple iPad Air13.5Apple iPad Air tablet autonomy comparison

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Weight comparison

Weight of selected tablet

 Tablet   kg   lbs   Weight 
Nvidia Shield K-10.390.86Nvidia Shield K-1 weight comparison

Compared to 5 lightest tablets - 8 and 9 inch

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.00.260.58Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 weight comparison
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact0.270.59Sony Xperia Z3 Compact weight comparison
Dell Venue 80.290.64Dell Venue 8 weight comparison
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.40.290.65Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 weight comparison
Samsung Galaxy Tab3 8.00.300.66Samsung Galaxy Tab3 8.0 weight comparison