Nvidia Shield: Hands-On With A Tegra 4-Based Handheld

PC Gaming And The Shield's Secret Weapon

Hands-On: PC Gaming

During my time with the Shield, streaming Call of Duty: Black Ops II went off without a hitch. The environment was completely controlled, though—router and clients in the same room, gaming exclusively on the 5” screen, and no television set up for output.

That was actually a fairly big deal. Graphics quality on a 5” 720p display looks good enough when there’s not much room to discern “good enough” from “wow, is that native?” But when you blow the picture up on a 55” screen at 1080p from 10 feet away…well, that’s going to be telling indeed.

Compared to my first experiences with OnLive, though, playing PC games on the Shield was a more refined experience. Again, on a 5” screen, it’s difficult to judge image quality. But the output looked good. More important, I wasn’t able to perceive the latency like I did using OnLive. And because you’re accessing your Steam library, there is no paying $50 or $60 for unlimited access to a title you can’t actually download. I hated that.

At the end of the day, the biggest issue I have with Shield’s PC gaming capability is trying to play a title like Call of Duty or Battlefield 3 using joystick controls. But like I already said, I’m not a console gamer, so that’s just me. If you’re more comfortable using a game controller, you’re probably wondering how it’s even possible to navigate through PC titles on the Shield. And the answer is Nvidia employs its GeForce Experience software to map inputs on a per-game basis to the Shield’s various buttons, pad, and joysticks.

Big Battery Capacity

Let’s say Nvidia pulls it off—the company makes it possible to play PC games on its Shield and on a television, using the Shield as a controller, without significant latency or image quality degradation. What then?

Well, for playing PC games, specifically, it’ll have a pretty big deal on its hands. The fact that it’s simply decoding a video stream means the array of Li-ion batteries adding up to 38 Wh of capacity should last a very long time. Jen-Hsun claimed 24 hours of video playback up on stage, which the math suggests is at least a huge challenge (that’d be less than 1.6 W of total platform power). I’ll happily stand corrected if Nvidia’s engineers pull off a full day of video playback. After all, they’re preliminarily estimating 1 W of power just sitting idle.

It’s notable that the company is using 18650 rechargeable Li-ion batteries—the same ones Tesla uses in the Roadster. Nvidia says that when it comes to Wh/dollar, the 18650s are always going to be the least expensive option thanks to high production volume and density. That’s why the Shield is able to offer so much capacity compared to, say, the Li-ion pouch batteries you find in tablets, which typically offer lower specific energy.

Less interesting to me is playing Android-based games. If that’s your thing though, Nvidia says to expect between five and 10 hours of gameplay, corresponding to 7.6 and 3.8 W of consumption. Games optimized for Tegra 4’s graphics resources are expected to exact higher power demands than those originally written for Tegra 2- or 3-based devices.

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    Top Comments
  • obsama1
    lradunovic77This is end of Windows because NVIDIA and soon Steam will clearly show to the world that you don't need Windows to do gaming, but actually Linux is really good platform for it.


    Linux is great, but you have to remember two things:

    1. Devs will have to port their games to Linux, which will take a long time.
    2. I don't see how you're going to convince gamers to install Linux in place of Windows on their computers, and then download their entire game library again, due Linux/Windows incompatibilities.
    15
  • esrever
    Shield is nice but probably not worth the price in the end judging by how much nvidia is pushing it as a high end product.
    11
  • iam2thecrowe
    now Toms article "21 consoles that crashed and burned" http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/611-console-handheld-fail.html can become 22.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • mayankleoboy1
    Naughty Naughty Chris!

    Hogging the better handheld for yourself, and giving the inferior one to Don ;)
    2
  • jase240
    Streaming games to a tablet, its awesome! Now I wonder if it would be possible to stream on 4g?!?! That would be cool!
    1
  • esrever
    Shield is nice but probably not worth the price in the end judging by how much nvidia is pushing it as a high end product.
    11
  • lradunovic77
    This is end of Windows because NVIDIA and soon Steam will clearly show to the world that you don't need Windows to do gaming, but actually Linux is really good platform for it.
    -14
  • mayankleoboy1
    They need to get rid of the fugly thick screen bezel.
    -6
  • wolley74
    the question is, why would i want to stream a game from my PC, where i can use a mouse / keyboard / multiple monitors if i wish, compared to playing it on a tiny screen with limited buttons? why?
    8
  • obsama1
    lradunovic77This is end of Windows because NVIDIA and soon Steam will clearly show to the world that you don't need Windows to do gaming, but actually Linux is really good platform for it.


    Linux is great, but you have to remember two things:

    1. Devs will have to port their games to Linux, which will take a long time.
    2. I don't see how you're going to convince gamers to install Linux in place of Windows on their computers, and then download their entire game library again, due Linux/Windows incompatibilities.
    15
  • dark_knight33
    lradunovic77This is end of Windows because NVIDIA and soon Steam will clearly show to the world that you don't need Windows to do gaming, but actually Linux is really good platform for it.


    3 words: Poor....driver....support...

    Where's Linus giving Nvidia the finger when you need him? Afaik, you still need a windows based PC to enable streaming of steam titles.

    That being said, I look forward to the day when MSFT looses it's death grip on those O/S license fees.
    4
  • dragonsqrrl
    It's an interesting concept, and it's impressive that Nvidia seems to have pulled off PC title streaming so effectively, but I feel like without the ability to stream remotely Shield will be little more than a niche product. I guess that's okay since Nvidia has openly stated that Shield's target audience is relatively small, but I can't help but feel that the experience could be so much more compelling with the ability to play your PC games from anywhere with a suitably fast internet connection, even if it's potentially at the expense of some image quality and latency. That would certainly get my attention.
    2
  • iam2thecrowe
    now Toms article "21 consoles that crashed and burned" http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/611-console-handheld-fail.html can become 22.
    10
  • sna
    well Chris Angelini , ofc it is not for you .. you are not a teen anymore ...

    this device will beat every handheld in the market. or force Sony and Nintendo to make a new console earlier.

    Plus ... too bad Microsoft .. you delayed Xbox Portable too much untill nvida MADE the Xbox Portable.

    I guess Microsoft will try to buy out this department from Nvidia ...
    -9
  • sna
    obsama1Linux is great, but you have to remember two things:1. Devs will have to port their games to Linux, which will take a long time.2. I don't see how you're going to convince gamers to install Linux in place of Windows on their computers, and then download their entire game library again, due Linux/Windows incompatibilities.


    1. this will happen , it is happening for PS3 and Nintendo .. and can easy happen for linux.. actually , I allways asked my self , given the billions smartphones in the hands of people , what was keeping them from porting all games to android ? the answer was : the lack of real Gaming controler. this BEAST will change the game hopefully.

    2.no one installs Linux "in-place" of windows ... they do Multi boot ... I ve been using windows+Linux on my PC for like 10 years ...

    3. the only thing I fear is Monopolies ... they are the true reasons that made people not invest in Linux .. I am 100% sure the day Microsoft releases Office for linux , the next day all people will install linux on their system.
    -13
  • razor512
    depending on the bandwidth needs, it should be possible to run the game streaming remotely (though you will end up with latency issues like with onlive)

    Remember, android can connect to VPN's (eg kinda like how if your cable tv provider allows you to stream their tv channels on your computer if you are on your home IP address, and setting up a VPN will allow you to use your smartphone or laptop while on th go and still watch all of your cable tv channels, you can do it with your games also
    2
  • ojas
    Quote:
    What won’t happen, it sounds like, is a wireless link between the PC and Shield, and a wireless link between the Shield and TV, which would introduce too much latency.

    I was wondering the same thing. streaming key presses to the PC and the video stream to the TV would still keep it at two channels, so i think it should be fine.
    PC Shield->TV would be dumb on Nvidia's part...

    Though i mostly agree with what Chris says (that it's not meant for him, or me for that matter) i think it will make sense in winters when you don't want to come out of your warm cozy bed (my hands froze in the last 20 days) :D
    3
  • hixbot
    I'm in the market for a portable handheld. I really like the idea of a nvidia powered handheld playing games with cutting edge graphics. but this will only natively play Android games?! Optimized or not, Android games designed for compatibility across such a wide variety of tablets and phones will not show the strengths of this device. Nvidia should have an additional gaming OS with a developers kit for building Shield exclusives and ports of AAA games from the consoles etc. Afterall, this should be close to as powerful as the current consoles, if the xbox 360 can play COD BO2 at 60fps, this should manage something playable.
    On top of that this is not portable enough to be ideal on the go.

    As for streaming PC games to it, that doesn't interest me at all. If I'm in wifi range of my PC, I'm going to play PC games on my PC.
    If I want PC games on my TV, I'll hook up my PC to my TV and play them in 1080p.

    I really wanted this to be the device for me, but it's not. As with the failure of the Vita, it lacks developer support. It's not worth buying for Android games.
    2
  • warmon6
    sna1. this will happen , it is happening for PS3 and Nintendo .. and can easy happen for linux.. actually , I allways asked my self , given the billions smartphones in the hands of people , what was keeping them from porting all games to android ? the answer was : the lack of real Gaming controler. this BEAST will change the game hopefully. 2.no one installs Linux "in-place" of windows ... they do Multi boot ... I ve been using windows+Linux on my PC for like 10 years ...


    1. While sony (when did PS3 = the company name? last I checked, sony was the company. :lol:) does have PS vita on android, AFAIK Nintendo pretty much said in big bold NO to putting there stuff on someone else hardware/software like android (so no Mario on your Smart phone).

    Although no matter what, as of right now, because of drivers and lack of user base, games will take a while to be supported on linux. (heck just to run simple minecraft, I have to change some file with the game itself to run on ubuntu properly).

    2. No one? Guess the time's have changed on you......

    I know plenty of people with linux ONLY on their desktop systems. Largest concentration of them in the Distributed Computing area (F@H, boinc, ect) but there are some that run linux just because they dont need windows for gaming.
    2
  • warmon6
    hixbotIf I'm in wifi range of my PC, I'm going to play PC games on my PC.


    Well.... I see where you are going, and it is valid point when you dont have to compete to use a computer.

    Although there is one thing good about this. Say you have kids and there on the computer OR your on the computer and the game the kid wants to play is on the computer your on, this thing and allow 1 computer do 2 things at once.

    (or maybe you dont trust your kid near your expensive desktop. :lol:)
    -3
  • master9716
    mayankleoboy1Naughty Naughty Chris! Hogging the better handheld for yourself, and giving the inferior one to Don

    Totally Agree , Its a fact that this will be a failure , At first everyone will buy it like the 3ds and vita but then it will fail , Its amazing how Nvidia cant see that , No one wants to cary around a control when they have their phones
    -5
  • Bloob
    lradunovic77This is end of Windows because NVIDIA and soon Steam will clearly show to the world that you don't need Windows to do gaming, but actually Linux is really good platform for it.

    Linux isn't a platform though, it's a kernel. GNU/Linux might barely be considered a platform, but that would exclude Android. I do hope the desktop market would see a similar or better competetive situation as the mobile market.
    2
  • allawash
    So this is a small, in home, remote desktop link to your normal computer? So the computer you're running the PC app on is pretty much useless to anybody else, because you're using all the computing resources for the game you are streaming. This might be more interesting if you had an in-home server that could handle, say, 2 or 3 concurrent users.

    I'd like to know what Nvidia's overall strategy is on this. Is this just the precursor to the real deal? And they are just trying to make some money back and see if there truly is an interest in furthering this technology? As in-home bandwidth increases, this would become more useful.

    Theres one type of company I could see really latching on to this technology, and that's large software publishers, like EA and Activision. The program would never leave their domain, tightening their grip on everything you buy from them. The only problem would be having the hardware to run that many games simultaneously. All speculation though.
    0