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Nvidia Shield Android TV Console Review

Today we take a look at the latest addition to Nvidia's Shield line of gaming devices. No mobility here, this new Shield is for the living room!

Gaming With Shield

Other than movies and music, Shield also provides both Android games from the Google Play store and through GRID, Nvidia’s game streaming service. At GDC, we were able to try out some of the titles, but it wasn’t an ideal setting to really test how it would function in the living room until now.

First up is Android gaming. Games are bought through the Google Play store and downloaded to Shield. Aside from games, the store also includes TV and music apps. However, it’s not as organized as it should be compared to the strangely-titled Download Games area under the Shield Hub section. Here, games are organized in better categories ranging from featured titles, to a row only for indie games, and there's even a list of games that require multiple controllers. This is because the Download Games space spotlights certain titles that are optimized for gameplay on Shield.

We’re not sure why there has to be two places to purchase games since it should have been easy to add a special category in the store called “Shield Recommended Games,” or something of that nature. The Google Play app does a great job of filtering music and entertainment apps. It even breaks down a few games into a few areas, one of which is suited for titles that work best with the optional remote. However, the way games are displayed isn’t up to par with the Download Games section, which means you tend to first check the Shield Hub, then Google Play for game titles.

Considering the size of these games, your internal storage is going to fill up rather quickly. The best way to avoid storage issues is to move games and apps to a SD card. Unfortunately, Shield doesn’t support external USB drives.

With the limited storage space inside Shield, GRID is a necessity to gamers. Again, you can always transfer games and apps to a SD card, or for a $100 more you can buy the same Shield device with an immense 500 GB of storage.

Since the Shield comes with its own controller, which is the same one used in the Shield portable system, veterans of the smaller device are in familiar territory. However, for people who are used to playing with an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, it might feel strange even though the layout is the same. It’s bulkier than an Xbox One Controller and your hands don’t fully wrap around the grips. Near the top of the controller are four buttons: one that brings up the search bar, another for the Shield home menu, one pauses the game, and the last brings up the option to capture a screenshot or even livestream your gameplay through Twitch. However, they’re touch-based, so the slightest tap can accidentally pause your game or even go back to the home menu. The Dualshock 4 has a similar feature with the touchpad, but even that requires a few presses to activate certain actions, whereas the central buttons on the Shield controller are activated with a simple touch, so it can take some time to get fully acquainted with how it feels in your hands.