I’ve been intrigued by the Nvidia Shield since its release, as having a high quality screen strapped to a proper dedicated controller is my idea of the perfect gaming portable. While not necessarily pocket-sized, I personally do not rely on excessively small or unobtrusive gadgets, as I travel around with a backpack virtually all the time anyway being a university student.
Let’s start with the design. The Shield basically consists of a gamepad with standard face buttons and dual-analog sticks attached to a clamshell screen. And what a screen. While admittedly it does bear a substandard resolution of 1280x720, I really don’t think it matters in the context of this device. I love the general black and chrome aesthetic that Nvidia have chosen to run with, and it feels incredibly sturdy and well-built. The top of the device is consumed by the panel and controls, while on the rear you’ll find a microusb connector for charging and a miniHDMI port for output to a larger display such as a hotel room TV, at which point full 1080p output is supported. This is also accompanied by a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.
"...the Shield is built from the ground up for gaming, packing a Tegra K4 processor which provides plenty of power."
That said, it needs to do more than just look pretty - so what is the Nvidia Shield actually for? Well, it can act as a multimedia platform just like any other android device, stream from YouTube, Netflix and the like and browse the web, although this is admittedly slightly tricky because of the layout. But obviously the Shield is built from the ground up for gaming, packing a Tegra K4 processor which provides plenty of power. Emulators run like a dream on this thing, and anything up to the PSP era will run flawlessly.
However, the aspect that drew me to this device above all others was PC game streaming. This will only work for more modern Nvidia graphics cards, so a team green exclusive, but my god, what more could you ask for as a gamer on the go? Assuming a decent WiFi connection, I can access my powerful desktop PC and summon my Steam library wherever I am. This means I can play full blown titles like Dark Souls and Tomb Raider on a portable! And even better, through a bit of technical jiggery-pokery you can get not only PS3 and PS4 remote streaming through the Nvidia Shield, but PS2 and Gamecube emulation on the go as well, with your home PC doing all the actual emulation horsework. That’s right: portable Bloodborne. Now obviously it can be pointed out that a gaming laptop for example provides this same experience for the most part, but remember the form factor we’re talking about here, and the Shield becomes very competitive.
The impressive 28.8Wh battery will net you around 6 hours of continuous local gameplay or 10 hours of streaming, although obviously your mileage will vary depending on exactly what you use your Shield to do. I was very close to making the move to the Playstation Vita, but general lack of support and similar controls to the cramped PSP ultimately made me trump for the Nvidia Shield, and I’m so pleased I did. It’s a marvellous device, still pretty expensive and somewhat hard to find, but definitely worth it.