NVIDIA SHIELD ReviewClayMeow - November 29, 2013
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NVIDIA SHIELD Conclusion:
Make no mistake about it, the NVIDIA SHIELD is a great device. But whether it's worth the $300 USD price tag is entirely dependent on what you plan on using it for. There's no better Android gaming device on the market, but if that's all you want it for, the price tag may be a bit steep. Indeed, if you're not interested in the PC Game Streaming and/or Console Mode, I'd have to recommend a PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS instead.
If you are interested in the PC Game Streaming, you better ensure your PC meets the minimum requirements. If you're running an AMD GPU, you're out of luck. Same goes for notebook users, as none of the mobile NVIDIA GPUs support PC Game Streaming (at least not currently). If you do happen to be a desktop member of the green team, not so fast – you still need a GTX600 series or better, which means a card released within the last year and a half. The good thing is, if you happen to be in the market for a new video card, NVIDIA is running a special Holiday Bundle promotion; you can grab a GTX 660, 660 Ti, 670, 680, 690, or 760 and receive $50 USD off the SHIELD, or go all out with a GTX 770, 780, 780 Ti, or TITAN and receive $100 USD off the SHIELD.
It's hard to recommend the SHIELD at its current price point if you're not going to take advantage of the PC Game Streaming and Console Mode. What can I say, I love my Vita and it was cheaper. That being said, if you're obsessed with emulators, having a portable emulation device with a real controller is hard to resist. While you can play PSP and PS1 games on the Vita (if they're available on PSN) and GBA games on your 3DS (if they're available in the eShop), the SHIELD allows you to play all three, plus several other systems. While you can do that on any Android device, having the integrated controller makes the experience much more akin to playing the actual console.
One last thing I will add is that NVIDIA has already shown a great commitment to improving the SHIELD over time, such as adding Console Mode in the latest major update. The list of officially supported PC games is constantly expanding as well, and I'm sure that'll increase even more knowing NVIDIA's strong relationships with several developers.
In the end, it's up to you whether you feel $300 USD is justified. For what the SHIELD offers, the price is more than acceptable, but if you don't plan on utilizing all that it offers, you'll be in for a tougher decision. Still, if you have a high-end NVIDIA PC or are planning on buying a new GPU, the SHIELD will make a great addition to anyone's holiday wishlist. Just don't forget to factor in an additional $39.99 for the official carrying case, because you're going to want that to.
- Great craftsmanship
- Crams a lot of pixels into a 5" screen (294 PPI)
- Tegra 4 processor equates to a great gaming experience
- Added value with two games and Hulu Plus pre-loaded
- Integrated controller makes this the best Android gaming device
- An emulator-junkie's best friend
- PC Game Streaming (if your PC supports it)
- Console Mode
- LOUD, high quality speakers
- Can increase storage via microSD cards beyond the built-in 16GB
- Comparatively good battery life
- NVIDIA Holiday Bundle $50 or $100 discount, if you're in the market for a new video card
- Heavier and bulkier than most (all?) other handheld devices
- Gamepad controls not always supported, not even with Gamepad Mapper
- Typing and other touch functionality may feel awkward with the permanently attached controller
- PC Game Streaming requires a fairly beefy desktop PC and high-end router
- Playing PC games on a 5" screen isn't always a great experience
- Don't even bother trying to read your GooglePlay Newsstand subscriptions on that tiny screen
- Expensive if all you care about is gaming on-the-go