Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Nvidia's Shield Revisited: Console Mode, Streaming, And More

Nvidia's Shield Revisited: Console Mode, Streaming, And More
By

The PC will always be my entertainment platform of choice. But there are times when mobile gaming is a lot more convenient: as I sit in the car, waiting to pick my wife up from the grocery store, any time I stand in a long line, and even when I'm sitting on the couch, trying to relax after a long day of work. I don't get serious about mobile gaming, however, unless I'm traveling by air. That's when I can really bite into content that I wouldn't have touched at home.

Understandably, then, I was excited about my first extended stint with Nvidia's Shield mobile gaming console on a flight back to Winnipeg from Montreal (remember, Chris Angelini was the one to write our Shield review back in July). I downloaded a handful of titles from the Google Play store, waited patiently for the stewardess to give me the go-ahead, and I went to town. First, I tried Ravensword 2, which is probably the closest thing that the Android platform has to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. No luck. The Shield's controls aren't supported in the title's gamepad mode. Undaunted, I fired up Galaxy on Fire 2 HD. Once again, no joy. The controller isn't recognized.

There are some really impressive games developed with native Shield support, but those weren't the ones I wanted to play on my flight. One of Android's strengths is a plethora of choice. So, it really seemed like Nvidia missed the boat as a "pure" Android-based gaming platform. I spent the rest of my flight gaming on my Google Nexus 7 tablet, smoldering over the Shield's wasted potential.

A few days later, Nvidia totally surprised me with new functionality. Included in today's over-the-air (OTA) update is a feature that instantly turned my opinion around: the Shield Gamepad Mapper, which lets you map the Shield's joystick and buttons to screen positions, virtual thumbsticks, and even gestures.

What's Included In The October 28, 2013 OTA Update?

Before we dig into the new Gamepad Mapper, let's go over all of the changes rolled into the update:

  • Android 4.3 support: this is a fairly straightforward upgrade from the Android 4.2.1 operating system that shipped with Shield. If nothing else, it's nice to see that Nvidia is committed to keeping its console's environment current. As Chris mentioned in our launch coverage, this is "pure" Android, without any of the bloatware other device vendors seem to enjoy bundling.
  • Shield GameStream: This is the official introduction of Shield's ability to channel output from a GeForce-equipped PC, an Nvidia Grid cloud gaming service, or the Shield itself to an external display at up to 1920x1080. It's a more formal branding of the streaming feature that was previously in beta. Bear in mind that Shield is limited to PC- or Grid-based games at 1280x720 over Wi-Fi, and 1920x1080 will only be available once the company releases an Ethernet-to-micro-USB adapter. We don't have release date for this adapter, or for the Grid-powered cloud gaming service that we expect to arrive in the future.
  • Apps2SD: Previously, Shield wasn't able to properly move application data to its microSD card, effectively limiting software to the device's 16 GB of internal storage. Today's OTA update fixes that issue, and applications that support this feature can now be moved via the Android  Settings -> Apps menu.
  • Shield Console Mode: This is an operating mode that disables the Shield's built-in display and instead employs mini-HDMI output for use with an external display (television). It's required if you want to take advantage of 1080p support. Currently, this is accessible for Android gaming. In the future, PC game streaming will be enabled by an Ethernet adapter. Although the new mode disables Shield's integrated display, power usage is expected to increase due to the more taxing graphics workload. Console Mode is ideal for use in conjunction with a wireless Bluetooth game controller (like the Nyko Playpad Pro), allowing you to set down the HDMI-attached Shield next to your TV.
  • Shield Gamepad Mapper: This is a workaround of sorts for using the Shield's hardware controls in games that don't natively support them. Holding down the Play button brings up a user interface that lets you map portions of a game's screen (or even gestures) to the Shield's buttons and analog sticks. Game profiles are auto-launched, can be saved locally, and can be shared through the cloud or sent to a friend. At least to me, this is one of the Shield's most important features.

Non-OTA Goodies: The Holiday Game Bundle and ShadowPlay

Nvidia's Holiday Game Bundle launches today, and is available two ways. Enthusiasts who buy a GeForce GTX 770 (now priced at $329), 780 (down to $500), or Titan are entitled to Batman: Arkham Origins, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, in addition to a $100 discount on an Nvidia Shield.

The lesser bundle is similar, but doesn't include Batman: Arkham Origins, and the Shield discout is halved to $50. Nvidia's second bundle is covered by the GeForce GTX 660, 660 Ti, 670, 680, and 760.

Today is also the official release of Nvidia's ShadowPlay feature, though it's still in beta. This is Nvidia's real-time game video recording feature that offloads encoding to the Kepler architecture's fixed-function NVEnc block. It's not related to the Shield update, but we're still putting it through its paces.

Display 20 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • -5 Hide
    Jordan Nwokolo , October 28, 2013 7:34 AM
    This is The Real Next Gen Gaming System..Stream,Cloud and A.R.S.E(Android Revolutionary System Entertaiment) Based Console,No Doubt about it !!
  • 0 Hide
    rwinches , October 28, 2013 8:07 AM
    Here is some competition just in case, you know, you happen to own a smartphone or Tab.
    http://www.phonearena.com/news/10-game-controllers-for-smartphones-and-tablets_id39901#10-iControlPad-2

    And, with Miracast you can send 1080 to your TV too.
  • -2 Hide
    Peacelol , October 28, 2013 8:27 AM
    Where exactly are these reduced prices linked from? As of 0800 Pacific I don't see any reduction in pricing from any of the major retailers. All I've seen are updates regarding the holiday game bundle deal.
  • -1 Hide
    damianrobertjones , October 28, 2013 8:35 AM
    Still won't buy it as I'd then have yet another device.

    Hey Tom's hardware... Microsoft, one of the biggest companies in the world, recently released a Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro... No article?
  • 1 Hide
    cangelini , October 28, 2013 8:37 AM
    @ Peacelol: The prices will be in effect starting tomorrow morning
    @ damian: We have one and are in the process of reviewing it!
  • 0 Hide
    Peacelol , October 28, 2013 8:50 AM
    Thank you Cangelini
  • 0 Hide
    Zachasaurs , October 28, 2013 10:01 AM
    i love these bundles im getting a 760 withing the week
  • 0 Hide
    rwinches , October 28, 2013 11:01 AM
    Price Drop For Nvidia!!!!
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/nvidia-gtx-780-price-drop,24886.html
  • 0 Hide
    funtasticguy , October 28, 2013 11:02 AM
    I have a question. Does the mapping software work when you're in "console" mode and using a Bluetooth controller?
  • 0 Hide
    BranFlake5 , October 28, 2013 4:28 PM
    Good to see Nvidia really working on the Shield. It has potential.
  • 0 Hide
    SWEETMUSK , October 28, 2013 4:37 PM
    OMG the new shoadowplay is so awesome!use more less energy then fraps!!!
  • 0 Hide
    bigcyco1 , October 28, 2013 5:17 PM
    Thanks for the review.
  • 0 Hide
    whyso , October 28, 2013 9:49 PM
    Are you using a 4170 on the titan system? How about testing on a less CPU bound platform.
  • 0 Hide
    gopher1369 , October 29, 2013 6:09 AM
    "Personally, I have very little interest in GameStream, if only because I'd never pick a gamepad and 5" screen over a mouse, keyboard, and full-sized monitor if I was in Wi-Fi range of my PC."

    Try using a mouse, keyboard and full sized monitor whilst on the loo, in the bath or in bed, for example.

    Try gaming when your wife is using your HTPC to watch Eastenders on iPlayer and your daughter is using your desktop to stream Dora the Explorer on Netflix.

    In short: I love my 3DS and would also absolutely love Shield, if it was about £100 cheaper.
  • 0 Hide
    awesomedude911 , October 29, 2013 8:42 PM
    Sony and Nintendo make bad portables with small amount of good games. Glad Nvidia has come to the rescue!
  • 1 Hide
    xbins00 , October 29, 2013 10:40 PM
    Thats depressing...I paid 400 for a 770 in the middle of august and only got splinter cell. If i waited I could have had three games and 100 off a shield while saving 70 bucks on my card.
  • 1 Hide
    cleeve , October 30, 2013 6:26 AM
    Quote:
    "Try using a mouse, keyboard and full sized monitor whilst on the loo, in the bath or in bed, for example.

    Try gaming when your wife is using your HTPC to watch Eastenders on iPlayer and your daughter is using your desktop to stream Dora the Explorer on Netflix.

    In short: I love my 3DS and would also absolutely love Shield, if it was about £100 cheaper.


    Try playing Android games on Shield if you need portability instead of a half-assed and frustrating PC-ish experience without a mouse and keyboard.

    You miss my point. I'm not saying there's no place for a portable console. I'm saying I'd rather play Android, or 3DS instead of futzing around with the limitations of gamestreaming from a PC.

    Speaking of which: streaming Dora from Netflix... GameStream doesn't work with that. The PC has to be dedicated to the task of gaming.

  • 0 Hide
    gopher1369 , October 30, 2013 7:28 AM
    Hello Cleeve, thanks for replying.


    Quote:

    You miss my point. I'm not saying there's no place for a portable console. I'm saying I'd rather play Android, or 3DS instead of futzing around with the limitations of gamestreaming from a PC.


    You're right, I misunderstood you. I thought you were talking about handheld gaming in general. Apologies.


    Quote:
    Try playing Android games on Shield if you need portability instead of a half-assed and frustrating PC-ish experience without a mouse and keyboard.


    I play most of my games with a 360 controller! Currently playing Darksiders (thanks Humble Bundle). Deadly Premonition and Enslaved have just been released on Steam so they will be my next 2 games. I can't imagine using a KB and mouse for any of them. Does Shield work well for these kinds of games?
  • 1 Hide
    cleeve , October 30, 2013 8:05 AM
    Quote:

    I play most of my games with a 360 controller! Currently playing Darksiders (thanks Humble Bundle). Deadly Premonition and Enslaved have just been released on Steam so they will be my next 2 games. I can't imagine using a KB and mouse for any of them. Does Shield work well for these kinds of games?


    Yes, absolutely. If it's a game that uses a 360 controller, it's an ideal Shield candidate. In some cases there are still limitations, you may have to launch with your PC, but if you control it with a game controller exclusively, it's ideal.

    Different strokes for different folks. Granted, my opinion is subjective, hence the word "personally" in my quote. Others may feel differently. But As a PC gamer who prefers a mouse/keyboard combo even for console ports, and only uses a gamepad for racing titles, I will always choose the PC for PC games, and mobile games for a mobile platform *when I'm at home*.

    Should the day come when Nvidia has a cloud-streaming service that works over, say, an LTE connection from my smartphone... well, that'd be a different story altogether. If I'm out of the house, and I don't have direct access to my PC, I may appreciate the Shield's gamestream capabilities more.
  • 0 Hide
    navas22 , November 21, 2013 3:47 AM
    Since it takes at least a GTX650 to enjoy the stream function, I understand better why they come to renew their offer by including a discount for buying a Shield.

    ______________________________________________
    acheter galaxy note 3 galaxy note 3