Great news for Nvidia fans waiting on the edge of their seat for the Android-based Shield handheld gaming console: it's finally here (opens in new tab).
Nvidia said on Tuesday night that it's currently shipping units to customers who already pre-purchased the device. New orders can now be placed on Nvidia's website, Newegg, or at a Shield Experience Center in a handful of GameStop, Microcenter and Canada Computer locations in the U.S. and Canada.
The final list of specs, as revealed in our extensive 13 page review, shows that Shield weighs around 1.3 pounds and measures 158 mm (W) x 135 mm (D) x 57 mm (H). It's powered by Nvidia's Tegra 4 SoC featuring four Cortex-A15 cores and a fifth "battery-saver" Cortex-A15 core clocked up to 1.9 GHz. The flip-up display contains a 5 inch multi-touch panel with a 1280 x 720 resolution (293.7 ppi).
Nvidia's new handheld also has a dual-channel LPDDR3/DDR3-L controller taking charge of 2 GB of LPDDR3-1800 memory. There's only 16 GB of internal storage, so gamers will have to be weary of packing this Android device full of Gameloft titles at once. There's a microSD card slot on the back, but don't expect to offload apps onto the additional storage: Google nuked that "app2sd" ability a few updates back.
The wireless component is provided by Broadcom, offering dual-band Wireless N connectivity, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS. The device also provides a mini-HDMI port for sending video to an HDTV, and a micro-USB 2.0 port for charging the 28.8 Wh battery. The built-in gamepad itself provides dual analog joysticks, a D-pad, left and right analog triggers, left and right bumper buttons, the typical A/B/X/Y button setup, and buttons for volume, start and so on.
"How do you get a guy who games almost exclusively on a PC to care about a handheld running Android? Start by telling him he can play some of his favorite PC titles on it," Chris writes in his review.
Agreed. Not only is Shield a hot portable Android gaming console with full access to Google Play games (unlike some blocky Kickstarter project), but it's capable of streaming PC games from a rig using a Kepler-based desktop GPU – mobile versions are not supported at this time. The company's GeForce Experience software sits between the PC and Shield, and is responsible for picking the right game settings for each compatible title.
For now there are only twenty-one PC games optimized for Shield including Borderlands 2, Skyrim, Dead Island: Riptide, Half-Life 2, Dishonored and many others. Currently the PC streaming aspect is in beta, so Shield owners will need to expect a few glitches and bugs for now.
Nvidia said there are already a number of Shield-optimized games on Google Play including Riptide GP2, Chuck’s Challenge 3D, Blood Sword: Sword of Ruin, and Arma Tactics. These can be easily accessed in the company's Tegra Zone app, or simply by performing a "Tegra" search on Google Play. All Tegra-optimized games should look especially hot on Nvidia's new Tegra 4-powered toy.
So what's our final verdict on Shield? We've covered this device for the last seven months, drooling over the ability to stream PC games and play our Android favorites on one handheld device. However you'll just have to read the review to find out.