NVIDIA Shield Tablet

The second member in the Android-powered Shield family is here — we break down some of the must-know info

NVIDIA is taking another swing at a tablet, but this time it's taking things completely in-house and doing the hardware, software and branding itself. The result is the Shield Tablet, the second member of the gaming-focused Shield family. We've covered all of the details on this new device in our complete (and extensive) review, but you can't always hit every bit of information in just one post.

We've picked out the top 10 things you should know about the NVIDIA Shield Tablet. Whether you're still doing some research deciding if you want to pick one up, or you already have it in your hands and learning, you'll want to know this info.

1. You can play games from anywhere, not just the Shield Hub

Google Play on the Shield Tablet

Though some of the branding and marketing speak may confuse things, this is a full-blown Android device that can run apps and games from anywhere, not just via the Shield Hub (formerly TegraZone). Google Play, Amazon Appstore and straight up sideloading of apps are all fair game here. Use this thing like you would use any other Android tablet.

2. Yes, the Shield Tablet Cover is that awesome

NVIDIA Shield Tablet Cover

As we said in our review, the Shield Tablet Cover dramatically enhances the usability of the Shield Tablet. It attaches to the tablet and locks into several different positions with strong magnets, letting you prop up the tablet up in three different configurations depending on what you're doing. It comes off simply when you don't want it, but protects the screen when you're not actively using the tablet, too.

At $39 it's a tad steep for a case that doesn't protect the sides or back of the Shield Tablet, but if you have any intentions of using the Shield Tablet regularly for controller-based gaming, the Shield Tablet Cover is basically a necessity. We strongly recommend picking this up with your Shield Tablet — you'll thank us later.

3. The Shield Wireless Controller only works with Shield devices

NVIDIA Shield Wireless Controller

The Shield Wireless Controller is ergonomic, has tons of extra functional buttons and looks nice, but sadly it's only made for use with Shield devices. Because it has buttons distinctly made to interact with software on the Shield Tablet and Shield Portable, and connects over Wifi Direct rather than Bluetooth, it isn't compatible with just any Android device.

So if you had any ambitions of picking up this $59 controller and using it with multiple devices, you're out of luck. It's certainly possible that NVIDIA could release some sort of app to bring limited Shield Wireless Controller functionality to other Android devices in the future, but we don't see that happening.

4. Tegra-optimized games look better than the rest

NVIDIA Shield Tablet

Although you can get games from a multitude of sources for the Shield Tablet, ones you get through the Shield Hub that are optimized for Tegra processors — and the Tegra K1 in particular — are on a completely different level.

By partnering with game developers to make adjustments and take advantage of the graphics power of Tegra processors, NVIDIA is able to offer up a solid selection of games that look better on these devices than any other. Buy a few Tegra-optimized games and you'll notice it right away.

5. You can use the stylus for handwriting input in any app

Shield Tablet stylus

Having a stylus in your tablet isn't something everyone will use on a regular basis, but those who prefer handwriting input will love having it here. Using the stylus isn't restricted to art or note-taking apps, though — you can use it anywhere that text is accepted.

Long press on the space bar to switch between keyboards, and select handwriting input — you can then write on the bottom of the screen and it'll be switched into typed words as you go.

6. Games can be installed to the SDcard, but it's up to the developer

Shield Tablet SDcard

The 16GB of internal storage on the Shield Tablet may seem a little on the low side for some users, but luckily it has a MicroSD card slot that can take up to 128GB of additional storage. You can store videos, music and pictures on the SDcard without any issue, of course, but whether you'll be able to install a game to the external card is more up in the air.

It'll be up to the developer of the game or app you're installing to choose whether or not performance will be fine when running from the SDcard — so don't count on every game installing on the external storage. If you're extra worried about having enough internal space without the help of the SDcard slot, you may want to opt for the LTE model of the Shield Tablet, which has 32GB of storage internally.

7. Be prepared to spend good money on good games

Shield Hub on the Shield Tablet

Tegra-optimized games look and play great, but they'll also cost you more than you may be used to paying for games. If the average game you buy on your phone or tablet costs somewhere around $1.99, you might be in for a shock when you start seeing prices like $9.99 for some of these higher-end titles. But trust us, it's worth every penny.

In many cases you're getting former console or PC-only titles that cost upward of $60 when they were released on other platforms, making $4.99 or $9.99 a great deal. Even natively mobile games are worth the extra cash if you're serious about getting a great gaming experience. Don't fork over $400 for a new tablet, stand and fancy controller just to play Flappy Bird — buy some great games that show off what this tablet is capable of.

8. The Shield Tablet is available from a variety of stores, both brick & mortar and online

NVIDIA Shield Tablet and accessories

The Shield Tablet has been somewhat in-and-out of stock since it was announced, but luckily there are a variety of different options for picking one up:

In addition to online shopping, retailers like GameStop, Best Buy, Fry's and Micro Center should be carrying the tablet in-store as well.

9. You can stream gameplay to Twitch.tv, but performance may suffer

Twitch.tv on the Shield Tablet

Any serious gamer knows the name Twitch, and the Shield Tablet is the first mobile device that can not only watch, but also stream to Twitch. Whether you're just playing Angry Birds or you're playing you way through a more intense title, you can give a complete live screencast of your gameplay up to Twitch for anyone to watch and enjoy. You'll be able to capture your whole screen, as well as gameplay audio and your own commentary — you can even turn on the front-facing camera to show your reactions.

Be warned, though — performance may take a hit depending on what games you're deciding to stream and how many features you turn on. NVIDIA doesn't make any guarantees that you'll keep a buttery 60 fps frame rate when playing Portal and streaming to Twitch, so keep that in mind. Regardless of the potential issues, the fact that this is at all possible will make more than a few gamers extremely excited to give the Shield Tablet a try.

10. Hook up your Shield Tablet to a TV for a better experience

Shield Tablet Console Mode

The Shield Tablet does an awesome job at providing a great gameplay experience when you're on the go, but it shines back at home plugged into a larger display as well. Plug in an HDMI cable to your TV, and you'll have the option to mirror your screen or turn on Console Mode, the latter of which switching the tablet's screen off completely to put full power to the big screen.

You'll get a 10-foot interface that lets you switch between games and media apps in the Shield Hub, with everything being controlled by your Shield Wireless controller. And because the Wireless Controller gives you a headphone jack on the controller itself, you won't have to sit close to the TV either. The Shield Tablet even supports up to four controllers if you have a multiplayer game that calls for it.

 

Reader comments

10 things to know about the NVIDIA Shield Tablet

101 Comments

I remember you once took a swing at BlackBerry for using a galaxy s5 in an ad with a clogged notification bar...

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Failing to see your point, much like the others. This isn't an advertisement designed to disparage the competition, nor is any of those notification bars actually clogged.

Iv alway found that phones mirror better to a tv then a tablet for general use. The text is to small on tabs to read at a distance but phone text show up larger. I've only had 10 inch tabs though

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And that's why NVIDIA has Console Mode, which gives a "10 foot" interface that makes it easy to browse and use the tablet from the couch. Most people aren't mirroring their device to their TV so they can read a book, they're using it for games and media.

That's very strange. How far away is your TV and or how small is it? My 37" is 6' away and I've always found phones look ridiculous with their huge text and icons. I much prefer the tablet interface on the TV.

I'm awaiting the announcement of the next Nexus tablet. The GSTab 8.4 looks great and I'd prefer the shield over that.

AC App via Nexus 5

This really looks awesome. I'm waiting to see what the next nexus tablet will be like before I chose what tablet will replace my aging nexus 10.

Is Germany included in the Europe list? Since the All Access disaster, I'd rather double check... Good FAQ by the way, Andrew, but you might want to add some info about international availability. On the other hand, I haven't the review yet so that's that. :)

So the games you buy on the Shield Hub are different than the same versions on Google Play and/or only run on devices with Tegra chips? That sounds like #fragmentation to me.

Nope! The Shield Hub just links you into the Play Store to buy them there. No separate stores or anything of the sort. The point is that you don't have to go to the Shield Hub to look for "supported" games. Everything in Google Play is fair game.

Given the recent news of how tablet sales have crashed this year, is there any chance of getting one of these for $200 (including the cover and wireless controller) by Black Friday timeframe?

I'd say depends on sales. Being this is a tablet with probably the best specs of a tablet right now I doubt it. Maybe $250.

Andrew, thanks for all the Shield Tablet coverage. Have you had a chance to use the stylus input/handwriting recognition enough to render judgment on its accuracy /usability?

Thanks--and yeah, that's my problem too, in fact I've never tried a stylus. But I really want this to make it easy to take notes in meetings. We'll see...

It'll be good for jotting down quick things or writing out a diagram if you need to show something off, but I don't think you're going to hunker down and write out notes for a 30-minute meeting. Nothing can replace a good pen and paper for that.

I've actually been using Evernote on a N7 2012 for most of my note taking since Aug 2012 using SwiftKey. It's by no means faster than or as natural as pen and paper, but it sure is a lot easier to organize and find stuff later, at least for me.

So obviously I'm in need of a new tablet (this N7 is sloooow), but mostly I'm debating the stylus approach vs. sticking with soft keyboard note entry on, say, the next Nexus tablet or the 8 inch Galaxy Tab S. (Not that I couldn't do that on the Shield as well.)

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For what it's worth. The stylus is pretty good but not perfect for input. I used it for drawing a little. I like the chiseled tip and I really love that when the stylus is active all other inputs are ignored. So, you can lean your hand on the tablet as you write and it won't send mixed signals to the tablet. When I was sketching not every line was picked up, so it is not near as accurate as an active stylus, but it appears to be much more versatile.

Currently using my tablet for work. We have brief meetings every tuesday, so it's great for jotting down quick notes. The stylus has been really responsive for me and the handwriting to text works fairly well as long as you aren't too chicken-scratchy with your handwriting. You can lock it to ignore other inputs except the stylus too, which is nice, like rlbrooks said, for writing with your palm on the tablet.

It comes preloaded with about 3-4 different writing apps too. I'd say if you can find one in a retailer near you, put your hands on it and try it. I really love writing with the stylus on this tablet.It's better than a passive, but not *quite* as good as an active one, but very close.

Really helpful--thanks. Yeah, I'm going to try to hunt one down at a local retailer, but I'm not sure if St. Louis market will deliver on that.

I've got the tablet and cover,but still no controller.I pre-ordered all three and the controller was put on backorder.Can't find anywhere online or at any brick and mortar store.

Where did you get the cover? Ipreordered all 3 on the 22nd from nVidia and they decided newegg should get covers first. I'm kind of annoyed since I paid a fortune for overnight shipping plus tax...

Same here through Amazon. I've ben using my Nyco Playpad and it is fitting my needs until the Nvidia controller ships. Amazon originally said on the 5th, but last week they changed it to "when available".

Thanks Andrew, really ticks the boxes for me over my nexus7 due to the front speakers, micro SD slot,just hope the screen is as nice

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I'd say the screen is comparable to the Nexus 7, but as I note in my review the Shield Tablet is a little on the warm side — i.e. yellows are not as crisply white as you hope. Could be fixed in software, and isn't that big of a deal, but it should be known.

Hi Andrew,

what is the software like for bloat and stock-yness? I'm looking for a replacement for my Note 8 and (obviously) prefer 8" form factor, for me its the perfect size tablet.

I'm sick of Samsung's skin and lack of updates (eg screen casting to my chromecast isn't and mostly likely wont be supported before I get rid of it).

Does the Shield Tablet support Screen casting?

Thanks

You can get a better feel for how the software is if you read my full review, but it's basically just stock Android with extra stuff thrown in to make sure that the controller, gaming and performance are all up to speed. There's no bloat or apps outside of the Shield Hub, software to connect the controller, the Console Mode and the Dabbler drawing app.

Basically the only things that NVIDIA have changed are for functional purposes, there's no extra bloat or crap. There's no real software skinning or branding, either.

As for casting, I never actually installed the Chromecast app to try... but that's currently in beta and restricted to just a handful of devices. Surely when Google opens it up to any device, it'll be more than capable of screen casting.

Seriously, 3 weeks sooner and I would have picked this up instead of my refurb Nexus7. Couldn't bring myself to pick the Tegra Note but this new one fixed all my issues with it.

I got it a couple of days ago, and not TOO impressed, the screen is vibrant and good colors, but camera is really sub par and so is its construction! The suppose grill that covers the speaker is a paper thin piece of plastic that is glued in

I doubt the camera is the selling point of this tablet for most people. The speaker grill is plastic, but I don't find anything about the build to be cheap. This tablet looks and feels amazing. My favorite tablet and I've owned an original Xoom, N7 and N10.

The non compatibility and the higher price of games that I've already purchased kills it for me. I had 3 680 NVidia cards when they released but quickly found out that AMD out performed them for a third of the price.

I love Nvidia hardware and software but they gouge the hell out of you with pricing. I was all set to buy the tablet til once again I read the Nvidia rub.

All of that may be true but this the least expensive tablet for this price with these specs. That has been released in 2014.
AC App via Nexus 5

What games have you bought that don't work on this? The only issue you could come across here is buying Tegra-only games that would then not work on your non-tegra devices.

I ordered the Nvidia shield tablet from Newegg and received it on Friday (8/1). It is a great looking tablet. Have not used it with any of the high end games due to lack of controller. Everywhere I checked the controller and cover are out of stock. The local BB and Gamestop don't even carry the tablet, so no accessories either. Waiting to get the controller before I invest in any of the expensive games. So want to play Soul Calibur on this tablet but I am not spending the $13.99 for the game if I can't play it.

Soul Calibur works great with the tablet/controller. My controller arrived today from GameStop. Soul Calibur was the first thing I tried. Smooth!!!

Funny thing is this isn't available in a single store here in Houston. (Yes, I've checked all their websites.) I really was hoping to check it out in person. :(

My only concern was that the device had a bulge on the side but I see that is where the cover is connected but hidden in the back.

AC App via Nexus 5

Hey, i gotta ask this question for a **ahem** "friend"; lets say he enjoys pirated games, would he be able to sideload the tegra only games to this tablet?

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Tegra only games are Tegra only games. Optimized for it's powerfull hardware , so not much fun playing them on slower tablets anyway I guess.

With these games Nvidia wants to show off what is possible with it's powerfull Hard and software dancing together. That's what the Nvidia ONLY games are for :)

Ah.and besides that, tell your friend if he likes games he should buy . If everyone is pirating we not have such great products.

Any combination (pick 2) of 32GB Wi-Fi version, larger capacity battery, brighter screen, or Qi wireless charging would push me over the edge to have ordered one already. As it stands now, I'm going to have to wait until I get my hands on one in person. Anyone seem functional demo units in any of the B&M retailers listed above yet?

I've been looking around everywhere to find these, both online and in store. I haven't heard of any in store, except for one mention of seeing them at GameStop. My main concerns are 1) it's pretty damn heavy compared to my LG G Pad 8.3, 2) the front bezel is a bit sharp where it connects to the display glass, and 3) the color accuracy is not as good as it could be, so the colors look a little washed out/more yellow. The end result is that it looks like someone turned down the saturation and white pages look yellow. You can actually switch the color depiction between 2 different options: sRGB and Native. They don't change much, but it's good to know that NVIDIA already has the basic color adjustment infrastructure in place for a future update.

Uh lovely tablet, looks awesome, little bit same a BB 10 Fulltouch device.

Not into gaming THAT much but I want that little beast to replace my DELL V8 Pro.
Sick of the Miracast / Intel Wireless Display problems, not working perfectly, really hit and miss.
Hope that Nvidia tablet is working flawlessly with my LG TV.

My new Intel NUC (Intel i5) also no problem mirroring desktop to my LG TV ( Highly recommend Intel NUC's low energy use, low noise, much power)

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You can use a BT keyboard and mouse with it the same you would with any other Android device. Don't think NVIDIA has added any special software to enhance it any more than what Android supports by default, though.

Thanks :)

Hmm really like that tablet, very powerful. But not very cheap with cover and controller.
But it's money well spend, I guess.

It's looking like a BB Z30 but bigger somehow :)) Nice Design from Nvidia

Same here. I've ordered 2 covers, hoping 1 will be here sooner than the other. I'll keep 1 for the 32 GB version when it's released.

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This device looks and sounds like it is awesome, but, is it something that should be compared to a PS Vita or even a console? Is the device and/or games at that level on its own or is that what the streaming features are for?

I'd say the original Shield Portable is more comparable to something like the PS Vita than this is. The Shield Tablet is capable of doing so much more than games.

I'd say the Tegra K1 w/ games that are made for the hardware is a pretty potent combination, provided you're all-in with the controller to get the best experience.

I'll most likely pick this up once the 32gb model is available if I can't count on installing apps to the sd card. I wish they'd forgo LTE and just make it 64gb instead. I don't need LTE so I'm really going to pay an extra $100 for a modest storage bump, which reminds of Apple's pricing policy. It's still a great deal though given the specs.

I'd prefer a stand to elevate the tablet a bit closer to eye level over this cover though.

You can always root it and then restore the ability to move whatever you want to the micro sd card. Rooting the Nvidia tablet is very easy.

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Large games such as Dead Trigger 2 take a few moments longer to load, but I haven't noticed any other issues with running them from the SD card yet.

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I'm kinda in the same boat. I REALLY wish they had done a 64GB SKU.

2014 is half over and these OEMs are still only have 16GB and 32GB like it's 2010.

Yeah, there is an SD card slot, but it's just a workaround and not guaranteed.

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Yeah, I've had 3-32 GB devices, Nex 5, 7 original, 7 FHD, if you can buy a 250 GB SSD for $125, why on Earth can't we get a 64 GB device. There's a 128 GB Chinese phone, One plus One is 64 GB at the price of a Nexus 5-16 GB, a 64 GB micro SD card Cat 10, costs $40. Microsoft stuff has huge storage, it doesn't cost that much more, just the cost of installation and packaging, is big, wholesale bulk pre orders etc.. I just want some options on the train, why can't I buy some comedy, drama and watch it on the train, or watch it when the internet is congested. Compression standards are very good, they get even better with economies of scale like FHD, QHD and UHD. I hope 64 bit, makes it so easy to add flash and RAM, which is so easy, so cheap wholesale, with pre order. My original Galaxy S1, had 16 GB, 48 months ago, for crying out loud, my 120 GB $100 SSD, is 12 months old.

Had i not been in love with my surface 2, i would probably get this instead.

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If only I didn't have to go gray market on these devices... Prices get all blown up in my country....

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11. You can stream your PC games to it via GameStream, provided you have the supported hardware.
Surprised that's not mentioned here as you did a great job covering the rest. For someone who doesn't want to either move their PC to the living room or build a new PC just to play on the big screen, this is a great feature and a big selling point for gamers.
I'm very tempted to pick this up and a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard and try some Battlefield 4 on this bad boy. I just worry about latency issues.

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I spent a good portion of my review in the "gaming" section talking about GameStream, and I encourage anyone interested in that part of the Shield Tablet experience to read it.

As far as focusing on the top 10 most important things to know, I don't think GameStream is one of them. GS takes a very particular set of circumstances and a nice gaming PC to work right, and even at that point it isn't always the easiest thing to deal with. It's a really neat thing to do, but you already know if you're someone that can take advantage of it.

SO TRUE. I meet all the specs and still struggling with getting game streaming to work. It is very particular. Make sure to read all the requirements listed on the GeForce Experience Program from Nvidia first. Even without it working I have really enjoyed using this tablet in console mode with the onboard games.

It isn't and Android TV device. When you put it in console mode it just renders the tablet UI in larger fonts and icons on your tv in 1080p. You can use a game controller to navigate around and the whole experience feels like console navigation in an playstation and xbox.

I've loved this tablet so far. The console mode is my favorite feature along with the hub. All my games play well, even though Dead Trigger takes forever to load in between levels. My Nyco Playpad works very well while I wait for the Nvidia controller to eventually ship. Best part of the hub is that it breaks out a category for controller games in the store. I so wish Play Store would do this.

I already have some tegra optimised games I believe from humble bundles (anomaly 2, the cave). Presumably the google play versions are still tegra optimised and I don't need to rebuy from Nvidia?

Yeah it's a great tablet,But as far as I can tell nobody but review sites like yours has a controller.Tablet and cover that I preordered came,But controller back ordered.I checked all the sites that was supposed to have it.None do.Couldn't even get one from Nvidia.So I guess I'll have to take your word for it.

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To add my two cents into the pot here..
I managed to get a Shield Tablet from a local GameStop on release day. Before I'd ran it through the paces, my wife ordered one from Fry's. A week in, we are both still impressed and happy having spent the money.
The screen is more than adequate and quite crisp.
16 GB of storage is barely acceptable but the micro SD nearly makes up for it.
Speed demon!!! This thing is fast and gave me the same feeling of speed as I got the first time I turned on my Nexus 5.
The console mode is pretty amazing. I'd have loved to be able to kill the screen on my Xoom WiFi and use a controller as a remote control.
The speakers are tablet speakers. This will not replace your stereo.
The controller and cover are both must haves so accept that the Shield Tablet is 100.00 USD more than the base price. For comparison, if you buy a nexus 7, to get near these features and buying from google play, your still going to have to buy a case at 50.00 and a Chromecast at 35.00 plus a Moga Pro at your local Walmart for 50.00. Still cheaper but not by a long shot. And way less powerful.
The Shield Tablet is running vanilla android. Dated at 4.4.2 but still better than most new tablets out there.
The controller does feel well worth the money. Its heavy but sturdy. The WiFi pairing leaves no noticeable lag when playing Soul Calibur. Way better than the Moga Pro.
The form factor is reminiscent of the Nexus 7 2013. Just with larger bezels to house the front firing speakers. Swap the carved in Shield logo on back for a Nexus and you'd have a respectable Nexus 8 here.
Oddly enough, my intended purpose for this device is as a mobile entertainment solution. Get to hotel, plug tablet into TV, plug Kingston MobileLite into hard drive (mp4 movies) then sit back on bed with controller and enjoy. The K1 gaming aspect is pure extra to me.
The stylus is a nice extra but isn't something that made the sale.
Mini HDMI is what's on board here. A bit strange given that micro HDMI is the norm in the mobile world but I for one am thrilled to see the micro utilized here. After MANY micro HDMI cable failures using the old Xoom, I'm glad to see a more robust port that can withstand the plugging/unplugging that this device is going to see.
Now for my one complaint....
Both the Shield tablets in my household have seen a weird locking up issue. Black screen, panic! Then hold the power button for 12 seconds for a reboot. I'm guessing an issue with the ROM since both tablets have experienced this. Knowing Nvidia, they will make this right with a future update. (Yes, I have sent Nvidia a crash report. If you have one of these please do the same.)
This tablet may very well be the first tablet to make two years in my backpack before being handed down to my kids. Although, Im still holding onto my nexus 7 with white knuckles. The little ones may not get an upgrade this year!

Just got mine in the mail today. I realized that you can use a regular pc controller with a otg cable and it works fine. Save your $60 bucks on a controller. I am using a $10 logitech...

You should change #8 to "cannot be purchased anywhere". Also, don't bother trying to buy direct from nvidia. Their outsourced store customer service "Digital River" is atrocious.