The Nvidia Shield: Reviewed! By Jack Vanson
A Shield, or A Broken Sword
Nvidia, the five star computer graphics card company is really hitting the console market hard now with their newest stab at video game consoles, The Nvidia Shield Console. The company produced two previous console creations that were of handheld descent. The first being a traditional portable game console, the Shield Portable which was basically a Shield Controller with sunk in thumbsticks and a few additonal buttons topped off by a 5 inch touchscreen display lid. The second, an 8 inch tablet, simply called the Nvidia Shield Tablet in which you could buy a Shield Controller sold sepperately. Both were recieved positively and began to gather niche fan bases, but this is the companies first real dive into the TV console market. Nvidia Shield console ships with Android TV OS, based of Android 5.0 Lollipop, and the company boasts the console as the first "Android console". In truth, Its not. You might remember the silver mini gamecube looking console, the OUYA back in 2013. It was born through one of the largest and most successful Kickstarter campaigns raising over 10 million dollars. It was based off a modified version of Android 4.1, and had its own full fledged game store seperate from Google Play. It bore an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor which was considered the most powerful mobile processor at the time of its creation. It was the worlds first Android based console, but the company who created it, is floating around in limbo these days as it suffered from poor advertising, heavy complaints with the controller, lack of internal power, and was a little before its time, as pro Android gaming was in its infancy. Since then, countless companies have thrust numerous attempts at Android based consoles into the market but none have established a foothold. The question is will the Shield, establish the foothold in the market that so many other companies so desperately grasped for and open the way for Android based console stardom and is it a worthy Shield ready to bash the big three Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo or is it just another broken sword.
To answer this question I went out and bought one. Well really I ordered it from Amazon.com, to save gas, and all, but you get the picture. The Shield comes in two flavors a 16gb version and a 500gb version the pro in which comes with Borderlands The Pre-sequel. Both console flavors come with a free 30$ Google Play Store credit, and 3 months subscription to Google Music, if purchased off Amazon.com. When it arrived I didn't waste any time opening it. After lifting the lid off the box, the product in front of stunned me. I had watched videos, and saw pictures online, in the days prior but nothing really did it justice. It was simply a great work of geometrical design. Triangular shards of resin and matte finished plastic forged into the coolest console that would ever grace my entertainment center. I lifted it and the tray that secured it out of the box, and underneath lay the controller wrapped in a foamlike material, along with the power adapter, HDMI cable, and charge cable, each lying neatly in their respective slots. Once I removed the guts of the box I found a quick start guide and warranty Information.
The Hook Up
After plugging up all the neccessary cables the topmost triangular edge lit up, a bright green, which is probably the coolest power-on indicator on any console to date. The entire process of hooking it up to the TV and setting up the console took about fifteen minutes. That's including signing into my Google account, setting up Netflix, creating an Nvidia Grid account, downloading updates for the Shield Hub, Netflix, and Google Play Store, and downloading a few games. It was blazing fast compared to all the other Android consoles I'd tried in the past.
The Test Of Games
I could hardly wait to test the untold power of the Nvidia X1 Chipset powered by 256 CUDA cores of GPU, followed by a Octa-core Processor (four ARM Cortex A57's and four smaller A53's) and 3 gigabytes of RAM. I booted up Half-Life 2, and played through the first couple of chapters. It actually out performed the Xbox 360 Orange Box version of the Game Graphiclly and gameplay wise. It even loaded sections faster. I had the same experience after booting up Portal and Doom 3: BFG Edition. Both played and looked better than the Xbox 360 Versions. Next I tried the famed Nvidia Grid game streaming service that lets you stream full pc titles at 1080p, 60 frames per second. I playtested, Street Fighter IV Ultimated Edition, Borderlands, Darksiders 1,2, and Fear 3. All the games ran extemely well and had very little latency issues, or input lag. Also they reccomend using an ethernet cord while game streaming, which I did not, so if you use an ethernet cable its probably as fluid as having the actual disc spinning in your optical drive at home, or like playing it right off your hard drive.
IO and Upgrades
It has a sufficient amount of ports, but you can't really upgrade it past the point of expanding the storage which is a bigger deal if you own the 16gb version than in the case of the 500gb option, as the micro sd slot can only add up to 128gb worth of storage, and you might actally use that up if you have a large library of Google Play Store, or Nvidia Hub games. Especially since Portal, Doom 3: BFG Edition and Half-Life 2 took up all 14gb left on my review consoles hard drive after OS, and the coming soon titles Resident Evil 5, Borderlands 2, Borderlands The Pre-sequel, and MetalgearRising: Revengeance are all full console/pc titles, and will probably be at least 3gb to 6gb or more in size. So if you like having your whole library of games on you device at once buy the 500gb pro because more games of this are sure to follow. The ports along the back include two usb 3.0 ports, micro usb port, an ethernet port, HDMI port, and Micro SD card slot.
If a Playstaion 3 dual-shock controller, an Xbox original and xbox 360 controller, and the Nvidia brand name had a baby together it would be the Shield controller. Although the controller runs like a bluetooth one, its actually connected through special built in wi-fi technology. Its bulky and wieghs a little more than the afformentioned controllers but it has enough features to outweight the slightly heavier and bulkier design. Its rechargable so no need for batteries. It has a 3.5mm full size headphone jack so you can use any pair of headphones with it, and its great if you like playing games and watching movies at night, when you don't want to wake your spouse or children. Innovative touch sensitive controls in the center of the controller followed by built in mic just below the charging port. The controller features side-by-side thumbsticks and your standard Xbox 360 button setup A,B,X,Y on the right side of the controller, d-pad on the left side, and the left and right bumbers and triggers on the top left and right sides respectively. It also feaures volume rocker and touch sensitive trackpad with clicker, at the base of the controller, however the trackpad does not yet function with the Android TV OS so shame on you Nvidia! Android TV OS is still in its infancy so in time I'm sure this fault wil be fixed. Overall its a great controller and comfortable enough for long play sessions. Battery life is also decent.
So Should You Buy It?
So should buy one? If you find yourself playing lots of games, on your phone or you want to upgrade to a next gen console without sacrificing 300$ to do so, its a fantastic game console and has a load of content coming out for it, and if you already have a Google account with lots of games and apps you'll be able to access and play them on the big screen, and although it does not support all apps and games as of yet it does support most popular ones. It's still in its' infancy and so is Android TV OS, so in time it'll support more apps and games, making your already big library of content more accessible giving you new ways in which to use and experience it. Remember if you decide to buy, get it off Amazon.com (link below) and recieve the 30$ Google Play Store Credit, and 3 free months Google Music subscription.
This has been a Geared Toward Tech review, I'm Jack Vanson and I hope this review is helpful in yor descision to either buy or pass up the Nvidia Shield. Thanks for reading, don't forget to comment and if you would like to buy it, don't forget to click the link below and get it at Amazon.com to recieve your 30$ Google Play Store Credit and free three month subscription to Google Music.