NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet ReviewClayMeow -
Category: Laptops / Tablets
Price: $299 16GB Wi-Fi; $399 32GB Wi-Fi/LTE
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NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Introduction:
When I reviewed the original NVIDIA SHIELD, now referred to as the NVIDIA SHIELD Portable, it was quite the impressive piece of hardware, and it's only gotten better with age thanks to NVIDIA's commitment to constantly update and improve its feature set. But the SHIELD Portable is a rather niche product, and no amount of updates will change that. It's a handheld gaming device aimed squarely at PC gamers.
So how do you turn a niche product into a mainstream product? Well, you don't. Instead you take all the great features of the niche product and put them into something a bit more appealing and useful to the mainstream consumer. Enter the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet.
Officially revealed in July, the SHIELD Tablet is basically as it sounds – it's (almost) everything you know and love about the SHIELD Portable, but in tablet form. Couple it with the SHIELD Wireless Controller, and you have an Android and PC-game-streaming device that's almost as portable as the aptly named SHIELD Portable. It's billed as the "ultimate tablet for gamers," and on paper it's quite the technical marvel. It's time to see if that translates off-paper.
NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Closer Look:
The packaging of the SHIELD Tablet is quite similar to that of the Portable, albeit rectangular rather than cube. It's a predominantly black box with some NVIDIA-green color sprinkled about. What I would consider the front of the box is dominated by an image of the tablet itself, with the stylus being controlled by some imaginary hand. Interestingly, unlike with the Portable's box, NVIDIA opted not to have a game displayed on the screen this time around.
In the top-left corner is the word "SHIELD" in bold white lettering, with the word "TABLET" underneath it in a thinner green font. The NVIDIA logo is in the top-right corner, while the lower-left hand side features a vertical green rectangle containing a black icon of a tablet with 8" written inside. The only other bit of information on the front is "THE ULTIMATE TABLET FOR GAMERS" written in white across the bottom.
Flipping the box over, we're finally given a hint at its gaming prowess. The SHIELD Tablet is propped up by the SHIELD cover with a shot of Trine 2 on its screen, while the SHIELD Wireless Controller sits beside it to the right. Written across the top is "Add a console-grade SHIELD wireless controller and flexible SHIELD cover for the ultimate gaming experience.*", with the asterisk letting you know that both accessories are sold separately and not actually found inside the box. Below that, the same statement is written in six other languages. The only other tidbits of information on this side are the URL address for the SHIELD site on the bottom-right and a slew of copyright and warranty information in fine print across the bottom.
NVIDIA has clearly gone for a "less is more" approach to its box design. So far through the main two sides of the box, all we know is the name of the device, that it contains an 8" screen, that it presumably has a stylus, and that there are two optional accessories you can buy. In fact, unless you're already familiar with the icons of an Android operating system, there is absolutely no indication that this is an Android device. That seems like a rather huge oversight, in my opinion. The top of the box is fully NVIDIA-green with the company's logo in white, the bottom of the box is simply pure black with no info, and the left side of the box simply has a green area with "SHIELD TABLET" written inside and a wireframe icon of a tablet and stylus. That leaves just one side of the box remaining to provide us all the info we desire.
Flipping over to the right side of the box, we're greeted by a sticker containing the exact name of the device (in my case, the SHIELD Tablet Wi-Fi), all the relevant barcodes, all the regulatory icons, and most importantly, the specs. In order, these specs include: NVIDIA Tegra K1 mobile processor; 192 core Kepler GPU; 8" Full HD LCD; 2GB RAM; 16GB + microSD; 802.11abgn MIMO, BT4.0; 5 MP auto focus HDR rear camera; and 5 MP user facing HDR camera. Presumably, the sticker for the Wi-Fi/LTE model would show 32GB instead of 16GB and have info regarding the LTE support. So still no mention of the Android operating system used, no mention of what's included in the box beside the tablet, and no mention of included apps. I guess NVIDIA just assumes most people will be shopping online and doesn't need this info in a retail outlet? Still seems rather odd.
When you lift the lid off the box, secured by two pieces of tape, you're greeted with the SHIELD Tablet itself, wrapped in clear plastic and laying inside a plastic shell. Taking a peek at the inside of the lid, you can see a piece of foam to provide some cushion and protection to the screen. Using a thin notch in the top-left of the plastic shell to remove the tablet, you're then greeted with the accessories bundle: an NVIDIA emblazoned AC adapter; a SHIELD Tablet Safety Information booklet; a slide-on plug for the AC adapter hidden below the booklet; and a USB to micro-USB cable.
Before you can use the AC adapter, you must slide and snap on the plug section. My guess is that the reason the pieces arrive separately is because the package for other countries would have their appropriate plug section, keeping the bulk of the unit universal.