New Features Coming to NVIDIA SHIELD on April 2, Including Enhanced GameStream
NVIDIA sees the SHIELD as an evolving platform and the software update coming April 2nd proves that, with a whole slew of upgrades and enhancements, including going from Android Jelly Bean to the latest Android KitKat OS, 4.4.2. The biggest enhancements are coming to GameStream, including the oft-requested ability to stream PC games to SHIELD away from home. Referred to as "Remote GameStream", it not only allows you to stream PC games without the need for a VPN workaround, but also includes Wake on LAN support and Remote Login support. However, a "robust Wi-Fi connection" is required, with minimum speeds of 5 Mbps up and down, so don't expect to connect at your local Starbucks.
Notebook support will also be coming, allowing GameStream to be used with Kepler and Maxwell mobile GPUs, which includes all GTX 800M, GTX 700M, and most GTX600M GPUs. In addition, full Bluetooth keyboard and mouse support will be added to Console Mode, which allows you to stream games through your SHIELD to your TV. This will make playing gamepad-unfriendly games like Civilization V a lot easier. Furthermore, while the number of GameStream-Ready games has increased from the initial 24 at launch to over 100, GeForce Experience will be getting the ability to add unofficially supported games manually. A host of advanced settings will be added to the SHIELD as well, allowing users to manually set bitrate, FPS, and optimal settings preferences.
Those advanced settings will be found in the TegraZone, which is getting an update of its own. While there are now over 140 games in TegraZone, the current interface doesn't make it easy to discover new additions. The TegraZone is getting a complete user interface overhaul that should improve organization and discoverability of games. There will also be an integrated news feed, which will provide the latest SHIELD and TegraZone articles. While GameStream is a huge selling point, NVIDIA is committed to bringing PC and console games to Android, which is no more apparent than with three recent additions to the TegraZone: Rochard, Mount & Blade: Warband, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. For those games without official physical-button support, Gamepad Mapper is getting a new user interface that should make it easier to download and share Mapper profiles.
In honor of all these great improvements, the SHIELD will be priced at $199 through the end of April, providing an instant savings of $50. You can check here to buy directly from NVIDIA or for a list of retailers in your region. Be sure to check out my pre-update review of the SHIELD if you're on the fence.