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E3 2013: NVIDIA Shield (Hands-On)

by: John -
More On: Project Shield E3 2013
Travis and I stopped by NVIDIA”s booth at E3 on the last day and took a look at two things. The one thing I can discuss today is the NVIDIA Shield,  their portable Android gaming system. 

Picking up the Shield, I was surprised at how nice it felt. Balance with the 5” screen was solid and it felt pretty comfortable being held in the hand. All the sticks, buttons, and triggers felt really, really good. I like the tension that the sticks provide and the springs on the triggers were firm and responsive. The D-Pad, as well, felt good in use and that’s a hard aspect to get right on controllers.

The 5” touchscreen display provided a nice bright and clear picture, but as a user of a Galaxy Note II, it seemed a little small. That’s me, of course, since I’m used to a bigger screen, but it should hold up to most others who use more “normal” sized phones. The touchscreen was responsive and I didn’t have issues navigating the menus using it.

Inside it will be powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 which features a Quad-Core ARM Cortex A15s at 1.9GHz with another single low power core for tasks that won’t require the other ones being on and to help improve battery life. There are 72 custom GPU cores in the Tegra 4 to deliver some awesome graphics in a small package. 

Android 4.2.1 was on the units I tried out, but NVIDIA”s going to be pushing 4.2.2 soon. You can also expect quick updates to the latest version of Android because they don’t have to jump nearly as many hoops as say carriers to update their hardware. It, of course, remains to be seen if they do provide timely updates, but we’ll have to wait and see on this.

What was on display was the final production unit, so those that have already pre-ordered, this is what you’ll be getting, The overall package felt really good and the hinge for the display seemed strong. Also, there an HDMI output on the back so you can pair this thing up with a Bluetooth controller, plug it into a TV, and have a micro-console on your hands.

One of the Shield’s big features it the ability to stream Steam games to it, thus making it a powerful, portable gaming solution for your PC games. Unfortunately, this is limited to an internal network. Even if you have a solid connection from either LTE or a solid wired connection outside of your home, the PC streaming will not work. This is disappointing as I’ve been able to stream some of my PC games via Splashtop THD and my Transformer Infinity tablet with some success. You’re also getting things like remote play via a PlayStation 4 and a PS Vita, so I hope this is something that NVIDIA relaxes on a little bit so that maybe those that can do it will be allowed to do it.

NVIDIA’s Shield is certainly an interesting product and one that I’m going to follow closely to see how well it sells. Up close, I think the product has a solid feel to it and I think it has potential. Time will tell, but there’s no denying that the Shield looks and feels like one very high quality product.