Back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nvidia wowed attendees with the introduction of its latest mobile gaming device, the Nvidia Shield.
With a 5-inch 720p Retina-quality touch-screen display and an arcade-style game controller, the system offers options galore. It connects to both Android-based games and PC titles, streamed through Steam's Big Picture service via GeForce-GTX powered computers. (You can do a compatibility check on the official Shield page.)
Recently, Nvidia priced and dated the Shield, setting it up for a June 25 release for $349.99. Some think that’s a reasonable price, especially considering all of the device’s components.
However, that's also a bit steep compared to the price of most other mobile platforms and game systems. To figure out if it’s worth the price tag, we've taken a look at the pros and cons of the system.
It's technically efficient. Featuring a built-in Tegra 4 GPU, strong Wi-Fi connectivity, integrated speakers and gyro/accelerometer motion sensing, the Shield is a technical powerhouse. You can also use it with other Android-based apps, including Hulu Plus, TwitchTV and Google Play, in case you feel like doing something other than gaming.
It's comfortable. The hands-on time we had with the Shield went by rather well, thanks to the comfort of the controller. The buttons and analog sticks felt like quality parts, rather than the cheap ones you might find on other add-on devices.
The games run like a dream. Whether you're running PC games or booting up something from your Android library (like the included "Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Part II" or "Expendable: Rearmed"), they run splendidly on the Shield. The frame rate held up well with the games we tried out, and the 720p display is crisp and easy on the eyes.
The price is a little hard to swallow compared to the competition. To Nvidia loyalists, $349.99 may seem affordable, but others may find the price a little steep. Most mobile devices go for much cheaper, and even dedicated game platforms, like the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita, sell for about half that price.
The size is a bit bulky. Though the Shield comes with a top-notch controller and mobile screen, it's a rather large handheld compared to the fold-up 3DS or PS Vita. Even if you had special carrying case, the Shield may still be a bit hard to carry around.
There's limited built-in memory. Although 16GB of built-in memory will suffice for some people, those who want to build the ultimate game machine will be forced to use the Shield's SD storage slot to expand the memory. The flash memory is a bit tiny compared to the 32GB and 64GB offered on mobile devices.
Overall, there are two sides to consider with the Shield. Yes, it represents an advancement in mobile gaming, and it's pretty cool to play when you’re on the go and aren’t near a console or PC. However, its price isn't exactly affordable, and its build may still be too large for some people's tastes. That said, the Shield is still worth a look, if only because it does put on quite a show — and the built-in features are rather spectacular. Play "Borderlands 2" on it — you'll see.
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