Nvidia Shield Portable
If nothing else, Nvidia should certainly earn big points for originality. The Nvidia Shield is a Frankenstein’s monster that’s part tablet, part controller and part mobile gaming console. It’s an unusual combination, and the result is about as odd as it sounds. The most striking thing about the Shield is its size; vaguely resembling an original Xbox controller, the device weighs in at 20.4 ounces and measures 6.2-by-5.3-by-2.2 inches. The build quality is mostly excellent, however the sheer size takes much of the portability out of the portable gaming console. One area in which the quality does suffer is the gamepad, as the logistics of hiding a full gamepad underneath a fold-down display necessarily means there are some sacrifices in terms of ergonomics.
The 5-inch, 1,280-by-720 pixel IPS display of Nvidia Shield Portable is sharp and attractive, and the folding design means it can be placed at virtually any angle. The multi-touch functionality is generally responsive and works well enough, though it takes some getting used to. Under the hood, the Shield packs a serious punch. A 1.9-gigahertz quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor and custom graphics chip delivers snappy performance and generally smooth gaming, allowing the Shield to handle nearly anything you throw at it. In addition to Android games, the Shield can also stream PC games provided your rig includes a GeForce GTX 650 or higher graphics card.
Nvidia Shield Tablet
When it was first introduced, Nvidia’s Shield portable inspired equal parts excitement and bewilderment. The half-tablet, half-portable gaming console mash-up was a daring design, but ultimately suffered from several flaws. The Nvidia Shield Tablet is considerably more conventional, but it should be no less exciting for gamers. The Shield tablet comes in the form of a standard 8-inch slate. It’s much lighter than the massive Shield portable, but at 13.1 ounces and 0.36 inches it’s still larger than any of its competitors. In contrast to the Shield portable’s built-in game controller, the Shield tablet uses an optional wireless controller to complete the hardcore gaming package. Nvidia also included a passive stylus that manages to replicate some of the functionality of an active stylus via Direct Stylus 2.0 technology. It’s not perfect, but it works well enough.
The 8-inch, 1,920-by-1,200 IPS display may not offer the ultra-high resolution found on some tablets, but it produces excellent contrast and color accuracy with more than enough sharpness. The 380-nit brightness can become a problem when combined with the high-gloss screen, but it’s adequate for most lighting conditions. The real star of the Nvidia Shield tablet’s show, however, is the raw power packed under its hood. While the Tegra 4-powered Shield portable offered very respectable performance, the Shield tablet’s Tegra K1 chip is billed as the “world’s fastest mobile processor.” Thanks to a 2.2-gigahertz Cortex-A15 processor and Nvidia’s Kepler GPU architecture, that’s not a hollow claim. The Shield tablet is exceedingly fast, and the Kepler GPU technology supports all of the latest gaming standards. It may not have the same quirky, unique appeal of the Shield portable, but the Shield tablet more than stands on its own as an ultra-powerful gaming machine with enough versatility to appeal beyond the gaming niche.