The nVidia Shield isn’t officially available in the UK but there’s at least one reseller on Amazon who’s importing them and selling them over here for around £255. I’ve tried some different Android gaming solutions (the laggy Ouya with its proprietary app store and nagging e-mails, the good but somehow clunky Moga Pro and plain old touch-screen controls). nVidia’s offering, to me at least, is by far the best solution to date. The Tegra 4 processor is excellent, especially in those games that are optimised for it and the device is solid feeling if a little heavy. The 720p screen is only a smidge on the small side but very crisp and bright and (here’s where it wins over the Moga) adjustable to a good range of angles.
Battery life is OK though not great. If I spend my lunch hour playing Asphalt 8 and the rest of the day on standby then it will be in need of a charge by the end of the day despite that hefty weight, a good portion of which you’d imagine is due to the battery. Sound is sufficiently clear enough from the speakers though I spend most of my time with headphones connected.
If there’s one serious flaw in the device I’d say it’s the stability. The Tegra Zone app crashes frequently when trying to jump to a game’s Google Play page and Asphalt 8 occasionally has a flaw where the car select screen gets stuck in a rapid loop of navigating to the next vehicle which is only solved by quitting the app entirely (can’t say whether that’s a device issue or the game but I never suffered from this when paying on the Moga and HTC One). The landscape orientation can also cause some issues such as the keyboard occupying most of the screen or on the Marvin ZX Spectrum Emulator (an app designed for portrait mode phones) having no keyboard at all. It’s not really a failing of the device and portrait mode is supported but it’s very awkward. If you’re not familiar with Android, be warned – not all games support external controllers but the Shield has a control-mapping overlay as a sort of controller shim.
Sadly as I have a slightly outdated 580GTX video card and no Miracast device I wasn’t able to test any of the Shield’s display mirroring features.
The price of the device is high compared with other mobile consoles such as the PSP and Vita but the availability of (admittedly non AAA) games at relatively cheap prices (consider the £35 price of Angry Birds Trilogy on Vita vs the £2-3 Android price if you don’t succumb to micro-transactions) and the quality of the hardware made it a worthwhile purchase for me.
Gerard February 25th, 2014