Nvidia Shield Tablet And Shield Controller Review

Shield Controller: Look And Feel

The Shield Controller is naturally modeled after the Shield Portable, with a similar control layout and feel. Its shape is comfortable, but a bit undersized for my large hands. The balance feels just right; it’s not overly heavy. Gaming controls consist of a D-pad, dual clickable analog sticks, four buttons (X, Y, A, B), two bumpers, and two triggers.

My only complaint about the controls is that the trigger buttons' throw is a bit long. It doesn’t take much travel to activate them, while there’s a lot of extra travel afterwards that doesn’t seem necessary. To be fair, my trigger finger is accustomed to a mouse button, so gamers more accustomed to a controller might not share my opinion.

The controller offers additional features beyond the obvious. Its green, triangular Nvidia button turns the controller on/off, pairs it with the tablet and launches the Shield Hub app. Surrounding the Nvidia button are three capacitive buttons used for navigating within games and the Android UI. Centered below the triangle is the Home button, which functions as the standard Android Home button. Double-tapping it opens the task switcher and long-pressing launches Google Now for issuing voice commands (a microphone is located above the triangular Nvidia button). There’s also a Back button for Android that, when long-pressed, opens the Nvidia Share menu for connecting to Twitch, offline recording and taking screenshots. The Start button may be used for PC gaming functions.

The right joystick controls an on-screen mouse cursor. For finer control, or when the right joystick is unavailable during a game, there’s a small capacitive, clickable touch pad for mouse navigation duties. Its sensitivity is adjustable, and while not as smooth as a laptop track pad, it works well enough for basic navigation. If the tablet is out of reach (like when it’s connected to a TV) and you find it necessary to enter some text, the touch pad works with the on-screen keyboard. That's not ideal, obviously, but it's far better than using a numeric keypad on a TV remote.

Below the touch pad is a momentary rocker switch for controlling volume. Pressing both sides simultaneously mutes the sound, which is the only functionality it provides when connected to a TV.

The front of the controller has a micro-USB 2.0 port for charging the Li-ion battery and a headphone jack that supports headsets with microphones. Having the headphone jack on the controller is convenient; it maintains the absence of wires between you and the tablet.

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23 comments
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  • blubbey
    Those GPGPU benchmarks are ridiculous in comparison. It looks like a great bit of kit from what I've seen so far. A die shrunk Maxwell should be fantastic. Maybe even a lower clocked version just for power consumption? It'll still perform as well, if not better than the K1 at 750MHz (assuming 2 SMMs) I'd assume.
  • Memnarchon
    "Based on these results, Tegra K1 must be “a neural net processor; a learning computer” sent back through time to destroy all of the other SoCs that could lead a rebellion in the post-apocalyptic future."

    Lol this is epic! xD
    Anyway, great and unique review. Especially for the so many GPGPU benchmarks.

    Nvidia tablet at $299 seems to be a great buy.
  • aberkae
    If maxwell brings double the performance per watt on the same node the next tegra chip on 20 nm node should be a home run for the company
  • deftonian
    Impressive, but I feel it's still missing that "umph" to get me to buy this and carry it around as an added device, next to my phone (Note 3). Maybe I just don't game enough on the android market or steam. Either way, I think it is impressive for a mobile gaming device and all the things it offers. I think they've started a great line and hope it grows into a successful tablet/gaming brand.
  • TheMentalist
    Holy....that tablet is a beast!
  • aberkae
    If maxwell brings double the performance per watt on the same node the next tegra chip on 20 nm node should be a home run for the company
  • gio2vanni86
    The streaming a game while i'm at my friends house using my PC at home is what has me very interested. Plug into his TV and play amazing games he can only dream of. I'm in.
  • eklipz330
    this is great, there aren't many good 8" android tablets.
  • CRITICALThinker
    When was a HDMI to mini HDMI cable included? mine never came with one.
  • vithrell
    Just wait for Intel's Core M. It wont match the price (CPU alone will cost $300), but in fanless tablet form factor it wont have worthy competitor. Early GPU benchmarks give Core M 55k graphics score in Ice Storm, so more than 1.5x more power than Tegra K1. AND you can run full Windows on it. I wish Nvidia took x86 path with its cpu cores.
  • Niva
    Only thing I'm worried about with this tab is Android L and what their software/OS refresh capabilities will be. Has nVidia made any statements about that? Getting this and being stuck with kitkat would bite.
  • matt64
    I asked Nvidia about updating the Shield devices to Android L. Nvidia will update to the new Android version soon after it's officially released by Google, though Nvidia couldn't provide an exact date at this time.

    -matt64
  • matt64
    "When was a HDMI to mini HDMI cable included? mine never came with one."

    After clarifying this with Nvidia, only the press kits included the cable. The retail boxes do NOT include the HDMI cable. I'm sorry for the confusion and we'll update the article to correct this.

    -matt64
  • Roger Rogers-1382392
    I have a Great product concept for the K1 gaming tablet. Vastly increase sales. But who to take it to...
  • Iriman
    Typing from my shield now. I love this decide. As a gaming tablet, its unmatched. As a media device, its extremely hard to beat. Its responsive and I find myself using it more then my moto x and my computer combined. It has plenty of oomph to handle anything I throw at it. WiFi isnt the best out of all the devices I've played with, but in no way is it nearly as bad as the transformer prime was back when it was released. Fantastic device. Gaming is unmatched!
  • Roger Rogers-1382392
    It has a serious design flaw as far as gaming is concerned from my PoV (which would only be easier for you to understand if you knew the specifics of my PoV [design issue that affects every user and potential user]).

    P.S.
    How is the heat on the thing after a few hours in warm weather?
  • CRITICALThinker
    it does have some heat to it, though throttling should be minimal, I am only having a few issues with the lock screen freezing and requiring a manual reboot.
  • lookanlearn
    1569743 said:
    it does have some heat to it, though throttling should be minimal, I am only having a few issues with the lock screen freezing and requiring a manual reboot.


    Heat can cause lock ups (as you will know); but maybe its a software thing that will be ironed out.

    I was hoping it would be smoothe and excellent; but I knew it would get hot. Too slim you see. Look at the PS Vita as comparrison. Chunky and cool.
    The heat was not an issue I was thinking about when I mentioned a design flaw for gaming (I have a neat solution for).
    Although the heat issue did give me the idea for a slot on the back of the unit (maybe magnetic) to put 6mm thick (30mm diameter) frozen metal wafers in located on the back near the CPU/GPU housing, so that it can drop the heat off a bit during an hours play. You get a kit of two or three or somthing; keep one in the freezer and swop them.
    Nobody plays them all day do they?
    For general browsing, should not be required; but when you start pushing the graphics, they be pretty handy on a hot day.

    My Terga 4 smartphone has automatically shut itself down due to overheating itself a hundred times in summers in the Far East..

    10,000 ideas.
    nice.
  • Iriman
    Heat isnt too bad. No different then the tegra 4 while gaming imo. i have yet to have any issues with throttling really. Trine 2 runs very well, soulcraft is flawless, and I'll be tinkering around with HL2 and portal as soon as i get my controllers. I am so much happier that i got this instead of the nexus 9.
  • lookanlearn
    1779571 said:
    Heat isnt too bad. No different then the tegra 4 while gaming imo. i have yet to have any issues with throttling really. Trine 2 runs very well, soulcraft is flawless, and I'll be tinkering around with HL2 and portal as soon as i get my controllers. I am so much happier that i got this instead of the nexus 9.


    You can use a Bluetooth PS3 controller.
  • Roger Rogers-1382392
    Its Great; but I have a product concept to make it far better. Especially for over 50% of all users; but Luddites and concept thieves abound.

    rogerthat1945

    @

    g
  • abject
    Inking section: "[....]The one complaint I have is that the Android navigation buttons are always present when the handwriting input field is active, even in Fullscreen Mode. Being right-handed, resting my hand on the screen engages either Lasso Mode or opens the task switcher, thus forcing my hand to hover uncomfortably above the screen while writing[....]"

    Ah. This. I bought the previous generation Tegra tab (an HP Slate 7 Extreme) for hand-written note-taking. This problem makes the tablet unusable for that purpose.

    If that's your use-case, buy a Samsung Note device (I'm thinking 10.1 2014 Ed.) or, generally, anything that has an active pen. The Tegra tab's stylus is passive and, try as they might, it just can't fake it enough to be a note-taker.
  • Roger Rogers-1382392
    1791274 said:
    ................Being right-handed, resting my hand on the screen engages either Lasso Mode or opens the task switcher, thus forcing my hand to hover uncomfortably above the screen while writing[....]" Ah. This. I bought the previous generation Tegra tab (an HP Slate 7 Extreme) for hand-written note-taking. This problem makes the tablet unusable for that purpose. If that's your use-case, buy a Samsung Note device (I'm thinking 10.1 2014 Ed.) or, generally, anything that has an active pen. The Tegra tab's stylus is passive and, try as they might, it just can't fake it enough to be a note-taker.

    At least someone understands a little about ergonomics; and the product I have in concept would help a far greater number of buyers~users of the NVidia K1 Tablet, than the number who would buy it only for making notes.

    Each to their own I guess.