NVIDIA Shield: A Bright Idea for Handheld Gaming

The NVIDIA Shield looks to be one of the year's most interesting new gaming innovations.

The Guild Launch community is running their Dragon Slayer awards right now, and there are several interesting categories to vote in.  Perhaps the most interesting is the "Best Gaming Innovation," where you get to vote on one of the most interesting new technological ideas in the gaming universe. I'm here to tell you why the NVIDIA Shield deserves your vote.

The NVIDIA Shield is an interesting new handheld device with access to the entire Android marketplace of Apps and Games.  It consists of a flip up screen attached to a controller apparatus, allowing you to play any game for it with the controller.  It also has a touch screen for those games that require touch controls.  The controller functions very similarly to an Xbox 360 controller, except the left analog stick placement and the D-Pad placement are switched, and there are a few more buttons in the center to help navigate the Android OS.

The Specs

So yeah, it sounds pretty neat. But the next question is what parts are in it that make it so awesome?  Well, the big one is that it's running an NVIDIA Tegra 4 Processor and GPU. For a mobile device processor, the Tegra 4 is powerful. The system also has 2GB of Ram, which might be laughable on a PC or console, but is quite a lot for an Android handheld. It also has 16GB of internal Flash Memory, and room for a MicroSD card to increase your storage space.  The screen is 5 inches, and can run 720p, which means these are some pretty games for a handheld device. It's also running the latest version of Jelly Bean, Android's most recent OS.

It also includes two motion sensors, a Gyro and an Accelerometer. It has several outputs, including a MicroUSB, a Mini-HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack with mic support. It's connectivity features include a Wi-fi adapter, Bluetooth 3.0, and GPS.  It comes loaded with the Google Play store, TegraZone, Hulu Plus, TwitchTV, Expendable: Rearmed, and Sonic 4 Episode II.

So what makes it awesome?

While having access to the entire android marketplace and allowing Android developers to step up their game is great, where the Shield really shines is that it allows you to play certain games you may have on you PC over Local Wi-fi. It streams them directly to the device, and the device is built to handle some of the more powerful games out there, like Bioshock: Infinite, Tomb Raider, and Metro: Last Light.  The streaming service is currently in Beta, so the number of games supported isn't huge right now, and is mostly sticking to big, recent, AAA PC titles, but it will continue to grow over time.

There are two downsides to the streaming service, however.  It only works on local Wi-fi, so while it does let you enjoy your PC games from anywhere in the house, the handheld capability beyond that is limited to whatever Android games you have. The other downside is that it only works with NVIDIA GeForce powered desktop PCs. The service doesn't work if your PC is using an AMD graphics card and it doesn't run games from a laptop GPU. So while the streaming service is a really cool idea, it has several limiting factors that I'm hoping will be remedied in the near future.

If nothing else, the Shield's streaming service is a great concept. Being able to play your PC games without actually having to be at your PC is a huge step in gaming, and it's one I hope to see evolve in the future. For now, the Shield is one heck of a great innovation, and it's one I want to see heavily improved upon in the future. The NVIDIA Shield is now available for purchase from its site and is $299.00.

Want to vote for the NVIDIA Shield? Hit up the Dragon Slayer Awards and vote! Be sure to stay tuned to Gameskinny for more NVIDIA Shield news, and news about other great gaming innovations.

Published Aug. 2nd 2013

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