Powered by a chip that its makers say outperforms the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in delivering CPU and GPU horsepower, and doing so on only 5 percent of each console's wattage, Nvidia's Shield tablet has finally hit the market.
The Shield can behave exactly like good tablet should, but it's primarily a gaming device.
The 8-inch Nvidia Shield tablet runs on Android KitKat 4.4 and the device's hefty Tegra K1 processor has more than enough power to run any app or game in the Google Play store. The tablet has been offered in a 16 GB version with a price of $299 and a 32 GB variant, which has been listed at $399 -- both versions were equipped with 2 GBs of RAM and card slots.
The Shield has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 with a 5 MP camera on its front and a camera of the same resolution on its back. The 16-GB base model was equipped with Wi-Fi and the 32-GB model, which hasn't been released yet, will couple Wi-Fi with LTE.
With its solid array of hardware, including a processor that would sufficiently power a desktop PC, the Shield is primarily a gaming device. But as it ventures into hardly tested waters -- the WikiPad was also sailing nearby -- it isn't solely for gaming.
The Shield picks up where Nvidia's handheld device left off. Through the tablet's Wi-Fi or LTE connection, users can stream video games from Nvidia-powered PCs to the mobile unit's 1080p display or relay the content to a television.
Adding to the handheld's streaming capabilities, the tablet's K1 processors equips the device to play locally stored games. So far, 11 games have been optimized for the K1 - notable games include Half-Life 2, Portal, Trine 2 and BioShock Infinite.
While streaming on the Shield was said to be smooth, as long as a solid Wi-Fi connection was available, the K1 processor has struggled through some of the more intensive sequences in Half-Life 2. The tablet was said to have especially suffered frame loss when local play was combined with the Shield's Twitch streaming feature.
It's still unclear if the Shield's struggles with local play can be attributed to the tablet's processor or the optimization of games for the device.
It has been those early, expected frame-rate issues that left reviewers cautioning prospective buyers to keep in mind that the Shield isn't solely a gaming tablet. It's primarily a gaming tablet, but it may not quite live up to expectations of individuals who have no use for the device beyond playing video games, according to one reviewer.