Customer Reviews: NVIDIA SHIELD Portable
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on September 2, 2013
You may have read other reviews about the Nvidia Shield before making it here to mine. What you'll see other reviewer's saying is that the Nvidia Shield is a nitch item. I'd have to agree with this claim. Its primarily a device to play your PC games on, and you have to own a lot of high-end hardware to use it properly. Let's talk about the requirements and about how it performs outside of the requirements.

So the Shield requires a modern gaming PC with at least a GTX 650 Video Card. If you have a lower 6 series or a 5/4 series, this will not work for you. And even if you have the bare minimum GTX 650, keep in mind that this card is not powerful enough to run many modern games on maxed out settings. So this will have an impact on how things look on the Shield (from a quality perspective). I am personally using a 4 GB GDDR5 GTX 680 in my rig, so keep in mind that what I'm saying is based on my experiences with that card. So having a very powerful PC is one half of the Shield equation. The other half is having a very high-end robust network. Nvidia recommends that you use a dual-band router capable of 5 Ghz. They also have a list of routers that are directly supported for PC Game Streaming (of which the Apple Airport Express 2nd Gen is the cheapest). I have personally tested the shield on several routers. It is possible to stream your PC games over a 2.4 Ghz frequency. However, there are a lot of considerations that will impact that sort of performance. If you live out in the middle of nowhere with no other nearby networks and paper-thin walls, then 2.4 Ghz may be enough for you. For me, I experienced about a 30 foot radius from my router where 2.4 Ghz was doable. Going farther way than that disconnected my session. I also get a noticeable amount of artifacting on the Shield's screen when streaming over 2.4 Ghz.

So the short answer is that it may be possible to use the Shield for PC gaming without a 5 Ghz router. Just realize that you'll be taking a risk if you buy it without the right kind of network to back it up. For me performance over 5 Ghz has been flawless. I'm using a Western Digital My Net N900 Router and I haven't had a single issue (other than range). 5 Ghz has a much lower range compared to 2.4 Ghz, so keep in mind that you may have to install repeaters or access points in your house to maintain game-level performance in all areas of the house.

So as far as PC Streaming goes, the question will be whether it is worth it. There is also not a direct answer to this. There are some unofficial things that you can do with the Shield such as connecting it to a VPN for gaming outside of your network. Nvidia is also working on adding functionality to play any PC game on the Shield. Right now the Shield only supports games that have included controller support. They will be adding the option to use programs like Xpadder or Pinnacle Game Profiler so that you can setup any game to work on the Shield's controller. So depending on your existing game library or your budget for buying games, this may be a serious thing to think about (The Shield's only good if you can play your favorite stuff on it, right?). When you do have the correct equipment, playing PC games on the Shield is amazing! I love having the ability to take my PC gaming to any room of the house (we just converted our garage to a lounge for my wife, and now I can sit there and play games with her). The controls feel solid, the sound is amazing, and the built-in microphone allows you to chat with people while you play. So if you're someone that already has the computer hardware and network to use the Shield, this may be an easier question to answer. However, if your computer is not up to spec, or if your network is not fast enough, then this becomes a deeper question. It takes a considerable investment to have the hardware to play PC games on the Shield. You'll have to REALLY want to play games on the Shield to spend the average $750 that it costs to get a computer and network upgraded to use it. For me it was definitely worth it, but I already had the computer and network to use the Shield, so my only cost was the $299 that the Shield goes for. I also already have 60+ games in my Steam Library that have built-in controller support. That's a pretty good launch list of titles.

So with the PC part clarified, let's talk about the other stuff that the Shield can do. One of the big things right off the bat is the ability to play emulators on it. I've personally played N64, PSX, SNES, NES, GBA, and Genesis on mine. This has been a really awesome experience. One cool thing that you may not know about the Shield is that the micro-usb port on the back can do a lot of stuff. I plugged in a micro-to-usb adapter and then connected a 4-port usb hub. I have 2 PS3 controllers, a wireless 360 controller, and a USB SNES gamepad all plugged in at the same time. And yes, they all show up as separate controllers for split screen gaming. And I finish this off by plugging my Shield via mini-HDMI to HDMI to my TV. It's like playing the original consoles, but better! Everything is very smooth and the graphics look great on the big screen. You can map the controls individually to each controller. So that's pretty awesome.

The third side of the Shield is the Android part. For me, this is probably the most disappointing side of the Shield. It's not that the Shield doesn't have the power to play any Android game out there, its that hardly anything supports the Shield's controller. There are a select group of "enhanced" titles in the Shield store, but many core titles are not available. One big thing that is missing is support for the majority of Gameloft's games. Certain titles sort of work like Modern Combat 4 and NOVA 3, but not all controls work. The only Gameloft title to date that works flawlessly with the Shield's controller is Asphalt 8. So Android gaming tends to be a bit underwhelming. Hopefully this will be something that gets dramatically better as developers become more aware of the Shield, but as of now there isn't much there for it.

So as a standalone device, the only really good thing about the Shield is emulators. There are several people on the Nvidia forums that bought it strictly as an emulator device. If you're looking at it as the next big Android platform, that's not happening as of yet.

Anyway, hopefully that gives you a bit of information to go off of. Feel free to ask me any questions that you may have about the Shield. I'll do my best to answer them for you.

[UPDATE 03/2014]

The Nvidia Shield continues to impress me, and I wanted to update my review with some information on new features that have been added since launch. Android gaming is still the most limiting factor for the Shield, but it has gotten dramatically better. The Android Library for the Shield now contains a respectable number of titles. Mount & Blade Warband was also just released as a Nvidia Shield exclusive. In addition to these titles, Nvidia has also added a Game Mapper feature that allows you to map your own physical controls to touchscreen games that don't support the controller natively. This means that you can potentially play any Shield-compatible Android game with your Shield controller.

The ability to officially map the controls of PC games is still potentially in the works. As of right now it hasn't been released, but a work-around has been developed by the community in the Nvidia forums. The community also developed a Shield Proxy App that makes remote gaming a lot easier to setup. So as of right now, it is unofficially possible to take your Shield with you and play your PC games when you're on other networks. Nvidia also added a special Console-Mode that allows you to connect your Shield to your TV, close the lid, and play in full 1080p. You have to purchase an ethernet adapter to use this feature, but it works flawlessly and is one of the better experiences on the Shield.

The community has also figured out how to stream Xbox 360 and PS3 to the Shield by using a Capture Card and a CronusMax USB Adapter. This is also a very unofficial feature, but works very very well. The Shield is one of the most diverse gaming devices that I have ever used and is still an item that I use on a daily basis.
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on May 12, 2014
In short, here it is. Nvidia SHIELD, the portable handheld android gaming with the option to REMOTELY GAMESTREAM using your desktop's resources and project the video to your SHIELD.

Anyway, here is a bit about myself, stuff, and why I am so excited for the SHIELD. I purchased this because I wanted to game on when I am at school and at my friend's house. I have a mid-tier gaming desktop--i7-4770k @4.7Ghz, Vengeance 16GB 1866, and GTX760 with SLI upgrade ability--, which I put a lot of effort to overclock, optimize, and push to its limit and, importantly, do not want to spend extra on a gaming laptop that is expensive for its performance. I use a chromebook and a linux laptop primarily for school and a part-time job. If I were to buy a gaming laptop, then I would have three laptops carrying around like an idiot. As a result, SHIELD becomes a must-have gaming device for me.

If you are interested in SHIELD, here are the reasons why you should consider SHIELD to be your main gaming device.

1. You have a mid-tier and up above gaming desktop that meets the gamestream requirement to make the most out of SHIELD.

- Desktop: GeForce GTX 650 or higher GPU, or
- Notebook (Beta): GeForce GTX 800M, GTX 700M and select Kepler-based GTX 600M GPUs
> CPU: Intel Core i3-2100 3.1GHz or AMD Athlon II X4 630 2.8 GHz or higher
> System Memory: 4 GB or higher
> Software: GeForce Experience(tm) application and latest GeForce drivers
> OS: Windows 8 or Windows 7
> Routers: 802.11a/g router (minimum). 802.11n dual band router (recommended).

2. You are most of the time on-the-go at school, work, abroad, and etc., which have decent wifi.

3. You would like to spend time outside of your gaming room, such as a living room with your loving family, front yard watching neighbors jealous of your SHIELD, or backyard praising the sun.

4. You want the best erotic, exotic, and sexiest pooping experience.

Now I want to clarify and elaborate reasons above. Hardware wise, SHIELD has quite powerful processor that can compete with $600-900 tablets. 5-inch 720p multi touch IPS panel retinal display is da bomb. Sure, your S4 looks stunning because it has 1080p. Yet, the 720p on SHIELD has not compromised that experience. It is considered retina when you look at the screen from 1ft away (retina is the point where you cannot see the pixels on the screen), which is reasonable because you will handheld it as a controller. Indeed, all the games that I gamestream, bioshock infinite; bioshock 2; devil may cry 4; borderlands; Batman: Arkham Asylum, City, Origin; Half-life 2; Civilization V; Left 4 Dead 2; and Warframe, look absolutely gorgeous.

Not only that, I can switch my SHIELD to console mode. In console mode, I connect TV to SHIELD via micro-HDMI and Xbox 360 for windows to USB OTG to micro USB port on SHIELD. Then, I gamestream all supported steam games to my TV at 1080p @60 FPS (confirmed the rate) and play them with xbox 360 or bluetooth keyboard and mouse to play League of Legends or DOTA 2. Yes, you can play LoL and DotA 2 on SHIELD using bluetooth keyboard and mouse. The experience has not been bad so far.

Also, I do not have a router. Yep, I do not have those 5.0 Ghz dual simul-blablabla router. I have AT&T Uverse Gateway s***ty modem running at 12Mbps down and 2Mbps up, but I still gamestream in-home without any problem. (0 latency to be exact) However, due to my 2Mbps upload speed, I cannot remotely gamestream on a different network (I am upgrading to Xfinity since they have 5+ Mbps upload plan). For those who have better ISP who is not a d-bag and limit your upload speed, you will have no problem remote gamestreaming.

This guy from even remote gamestream ACROSS THE COUNTRY! HOLY@#$%^&. with 14-ish upload speed. Check it out.
Edited: Ok. Since Amazon doesn't like me linking a website, you can google "nvidia shield remote gamestream review tomshardware." It should be the first link.

Just to clarify, you will need 5Mbps download speed on your SHIELD network (to download streaming video from you desktop) and 5Mbps upload speed on your gaming desktop network (to project the video to your SHIELD).

So far with gamestreaming, it is absolutely fantastic and is now a must-have for me. Even more, Nvidia continues to impress me by providing more support and porting more top-tier games from steam to SHIELD. Future updates will continue to improve SHIELD's potentials.

Now for the android part. I have never been a big fan of android gaming, but they do have some free interesting games that keep me busy on the bus or on the train. I cannot say much about android gaming. It is mainly because I am not interested. Sorry to disappoint you.

Last of all, let's talk about a cloud-based gaming by Nvidia that is currently in beta. NVIDIA GRID. This is a feature that no one talks about (that I heard before purchasing). GRID streams high-quality PC games to SHIELD. It uses the resources from GRID servers in San Jose, CA. They let SHIELD owners try for free during the beta for three mopths and, then, will determine the next step for it. They let us try Darksider 1&2, Alan Wake American Nightmare, Dead Island, Overlord 2, Refaction: Armageddon, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, and etc. during the three months period.

From my experience, it has been quite fascinating so far. Especially for those who do not have high-end gaming desktop to gamestream to your SHIELD, GRID would be the main feature that will attract those users. You do not need to have $600+ gaming rig. Just basically use Nvidia GRID servers and play high quality games on your SHIELD. Graphic wise, it looks stunning as if they are 720p with ultra quality setting. Conclusion to this? it will have to wait for NVIDIA's next move on this. Keep tabs on this. I am sure it will be amazingly interesting if they decide to continue and give it to SHIELD owners for free.

All things considered, should you buy it? Oh heck yes, man, I spent two hours writing this for those who have doubts. So, BUY IT! don't make my effort go down the drain. IT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT.

Note: I do not use emulators that much, and you will find most reviewers talk about that already.
Edited: somehow Amazon doesn't like the link I quote.
Edited2: Sorry for my English, I am not a native speaker.
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on December 15, 2013
I bought my shield at launch for the PC streaming, as my gaming PC is on the television in the living room and I was tired of waiting until the kids were in bed to play my games. Since then it has taken on a much more central role in my entertainment choices and uses.

The speakers are loud enough to hear in the shower from outside of it easily. Combined with the way the controller is a stand for the screen that stays put perfectly, I often have it propped up watching television from my slingbox or streaming hulu. The battery is heroic and it keeps a stable wifi connection from far away on 5 GHz better than my Note 2 keeps it on 2.4 GHz.

The controller itself is outstanding for playing PC games. When you are streaming games the video still goes to the monitor as well, but the sound only comes from the Shield. I wish this weren't the case, as the controller is great and I would happily use it even when I don't need the streaming.

Android games play outstanding. With the latest OS update the mappings for games that don't support the controller have a mapping for both the accelerometers and best of all you can map a joystick as "FPS look" - even games that don't support anything at all like Dead Space work perfectly.

Plug in the (strangely not MHL and mini instead of micro) HDMI cable and it will ask if you want to enable console mode. If you don't, the screen shows on both screens at once. If you do the Shield switches to 1080p output. Game performance doesn't drop a hair - it is pretty impressive all told. You can then close the lid and use a bluetooth gamepad to control everything . At this point you will have spent an awful lot to have an android console, but I use it to play my PC games from downstairs in my bedroom and it works nearly flawlessly - sometimes game streaming doesn't work and you'll need to reboot the PC or Shield or both.

All told I am happier with this than I expected to be. I use it all the time.
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on December 13, 2013
I bought the Nvidia Shield on a whim during a combo sale with a Geforce GTX 770 graphics card about a month ago. Not being a stranger to alternative (non-Sony or Nintendo) gaming devices after owning a GP2X, Wiz, and Pandora, I figured I would find the usefulness of a new handheld that ran all of my favorite emulators and roms, plus the added benefit of the Android ecosystem; most* games purchased in the Google Play store could also be played. I consider myself a more technically-inclined user than most, so my use cases of a handheld gaming console may greatly differ from a typical PSP or DS gamer.

1. This is a powerful gaming handheld. At the time of this writing, the Shield currently has one of the beefiest ARM-based SoCs available. For Android gaming, this should be able to suffice for at least a couple years. For emulators, everything at N64 and PS1 gen level will run smoothly. Currently, the Dolphin emu (GameCube, Wii) is too slow to be playable, but may improve over time.
2. Controller quality is very good, and the ergonomics rival the 360 controller. I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality of the thumbsticks, d-pad, and triggers. Despite the emphasis on the controller, touchscreen, gyros and accelerometer sensors are still included as an option, but I rarely need to use them.
3. Speaking of controller, Nvidia’s screen mapping software does a great job of mapping touch controls to the gamepad, which is especially useful for Android games that don’t have native controller support. The community maps save me a lot of time and seem to have a lot of games covered, with the exception of Carmageddon and Minecraft (at the time of this writing- I’ll submit my own customized maps for these when I’m finished tweaking).
4. Company support is great, and new features are constantly being added and enhanced months after release. Not only does it do PC game streaming and online Grid streaming, but Nvidia recently added console mode. I anticipate more useful features as time goes on.
5. Community support is very active. XDA-developers has an active forum for the Shield, and there is a Google docs spreadsheet out there with a huge list of working games, emulators and fixes/workarounds. The device isn't locked down at all, and can be rooted and flashed easily like any Nexus device.
6. Battery capacity appears to be one of the best for any stock Android device I’ve owned. Gaming sessions can survive the duration of any domestic (US) flight.
7. Audio speakers have had a lot of thought put into them. Unfortunately, usually when I play I need to wear headphones.
8. Micro SDXC slot. Some device manufacturers have been cutting costs by removing expandable storage and forcing consumers down the expensive flash upgrade path ($100 for 16GB extra storage, gee thanks Google!), it’s worth noting that Nvidia understands that Shield users will need extra space and won’t nickel and dime its customers for it. FWIW, the 64GB Sandisk Class 10 micro-SDXC works well in my Shield.

1. Heavy and large. Personally, the weight isn’t an issue, since I’m usually sitting with the handheld on my lap, but use while standing may lead to arm fatigue over a short period. However, those who like to put a PSP or DS in their pocket and go will be put off by the inability to do this with the Shield.
2. Small screen size for the bezel. While a 5” display is adequate for modern handhelds, there appears to be enough bezel left over for a larger screen. Whether this is due to cost or battery life, there is a considerable amount of wasted space here.
3. Amazon Appstore force closes and refuses to run, which prevents me from playing half of my purchased Android gaming library. I won’t knock Nvidia for this one, since I’ve had similar problems with Amazon’s store on other Android devices.
4. Active cooling. The back of the unit contains a vent to expel hot air from the fan/heatsink on the Tegra4 SoC. It doesn’t get very warm, but it would lead me to conclude that Nvidia is pushing the SoC past the thermal limits normally imposed in phone/tablet form factors, and fan durability may limit its lifespan.
5. Carry case options are currently limited. The official Nvidia case is currently $40, and has to be purchased separately.
6. Steep requirements for PC streaming. The PC requires a desktop Geforce 650 or above (no AMD cards). Those with high-end gaming laptops are left begging Nvidia for a future update- which wouldn’t surprise me if it comes eventually. Streaming quality is also affected by the WiFi router. I have a single-band ASUS RT-N16 which streams okay if I’m sitting in the same room. Serious macroblocking and input lag will occur once I move out of the line of sight or further than 20 feet. Dual-band 2.4/5Ghz N routers/APs are highly recommended for game streaming, and the ones recommended by Nvida are not cheap,

Overall, I would recommend it to any PC or Android gamer. I have no buyer’s remorse, as it has provided enough entertainment value in the short time I’ve owned it. However, this is a niche device that requires some level of tech geekery and additional hardware to fully utilize all of the features. Therefore, I would not recommend this for everyone. But for a device that caters primarily to remote PC/Android gamers and emulation enthusiasts, it does its job very well.

*Several Gameloft and EA games that I purchased years ago do not support the Shield. Note that many of these games refuse to install on my GalaxyS III and Nexus 10, so I wouldn’t fault the Shield, but rather lazy/unscrupulous developers for obsoleting their products in this way.
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on October 28, 2014
To be straight forward; If you view this as an android gaming device with the added ability to gamestream, you will enjoy your experience with the shield. If you are purchasing it as a device that does gamestream with android gaming on the side, you will have a bad time. More on that later.

For an android device, this thing is wonderful. It plays every game that is thrown at it. Games like portal and half life have been ported to the device as well. If a game does not have built in support for controller and the controls are in a set place, you can use the built in game mapper to map joystick controls to touch controls. They even offer fps look controls. Some games are awkward however. I hear many complaints about doing things on the touch screen, but I haven't had too much trouble. Typing is a bit awkward, but I feel its more of the learning curve for me getting used to the screen size and landscape. I seem to be getting better as time goes on. Touchscreen only games that use portrait work fine if you can find a decent way to hold the device. Tilt based portrait games, however, do not work well as it controls a bit funny. The device can get a bit warm on the bottom, but the internal keeps it from getting too hot. It usually is quite or off. The only thing I dislike is the fan turns off when put to sleep, but sometimes the device remains active and gets hot.

For those looking to buy this thing mainly for game streaming, I highly recommend doing research and critically thinking about this purchase. Your computer must meet certain specs. You need to have a specific graphic card from a list of compatible ones; all of them are nvidia gtx cards. They recently added the ability to use notebook cards as well. Also, you must consider the router you have. You need a decent router, and if you plan streaming outside your local network, decent upload and download speeds are required. I have yet to test the feature, but based on review I highly recommend reconsidering if your main purpose for this device is streaming. That feature is still beta, and is mainly a side to what the product is and does. The box even say "Take Android Gaming to the Next Level". This is a device built for android gaming. The streaming feature is just a nice little bonus.

Speakers - The speakers are absolutely amazing. They get LOUD. Playing games in a noisy public environment gave me no problems for hearing the game audio. They also sound like decent quality speakers.

Full Sized Controls and Shape of Device - The shape of the device makes it comfortable to hold for long periods of time. The full sized controls make it feel good to play games. Emulators are great to control using the built in controller

Battery - If you find yourself killing your phone every day from playing games, this device is perfect. I played portal, asphalt 8 and NOVA 3 for 5 hours and only drained the battery down to 50%. The battery is made with gaming in mind, and can last all day with intermittent playing

Display - The display is 720p, technically HD, but not so much in modern times. However, this is more than enough for great gaming. It produces vivid colors, and makes any game played look amazing.

Power - This device can handle any game thrown at it. Along with that, certain games are available on the play store (and listed in the tegra zone, which links back to play store) that are modified to be graphically enhanced to use the full power of the shield's tegra 4 processor. This includes shield exclusive titles such as Portal and Half Life ported to the device.

App compatibility - While most apps and games are compatible, for some reason some apps show up in the play store as not being compatible with the device. One example is the amazon app. Don't know why, as this should be able to use any app that any other android device can use. Something that needs to be fixed, but not a very common occurrence.

Warmth and Fan - Putting the device to sleep (closing the lid) also powers off the fan. I can see why they did that to save power, but sometime the device is doing background applications. This can cause the device to heat up. I put it to sleep without realizing I had left something running (don't know what though) and it got warm in the bag. The battery also drained 15% sitting in the bag.

Waking from sleep issues - On occasion, after leaving asleep and lid closed to charge overnight, trying to wake it from sleep the next day doesn't work. Opening the lid does nothing, and pushing the nvidia multifunction power button also does nothing. I end up having to hold that button until the device does a hard shutdown. Usually not an issue, but it does happen sometimes.

Weight - not too big of a complaint. Unless your standing playing games for hours, you won't have much of an issue. Usually I rest my hands on a table or my lap when gaming handheld anyway, and its not too heavy to use for up to an hour standing. Holding it over your head while laying in bed can be a problem, but I usually didn't do that anyway.

On an additional note, the device comes with something called Grid. This allows you to stream PC games from nvidia servers to your shield over the internet. It seems to work quite well if you have an okay router, though games that require quick reactions don't work as well due to the small input lag.

Overall, I recommend this to anyone wanting to get an android tablet mainly to game. Its a bit bulky to carry around, and unless you are wearing cargo pants the device will likely not fit in your pocket. If you plan on using emulators on this, you will find it one of the best ways to emulate n64, playstation, and every older console. I can also emulate ds and some psp games. It can handle any android game thrown at it, and can connect to a tv to play games on a large screen.

[UPDATE - 11/9/2014]
After a few more weeks of owning the shield, I still have no regrets purchasing this product. I received a cable to plug this into my tv. It looks great, but seems to not fit the tv right. I tested both 720p mirror mode and 1080p console mode but both seem to have the edges of the screen trimmed off. Not a huge deal for most games, but makes some apps difficult to use.

An OTA update was released last weekend, and it claims to have fixed the battery draining when the lid was closed. I experienced that many times before the update where I would close it, slip it into my bag, and then find it 20% lower half an hour later and the device warm. After the update, I haven't had that issue. The SD card workaround installed in an older OTA works well. Through testing, it seems you need at least a class 6 microSD for it to work properly. I tested a class 4 and attempting to open an app from it always caused a crash, no matter what app it was. Class 6 works perfectly. Also, do not attempt to get any microSD above 64GB. I don't have a card to test, but a friend of mine with this device tested a few 128GB cards. They "work", but apps don't seem to play nice with it.

The silver replaceable shield that comes default with the device has started to show scratches. It seems to slowly get scratched over time from basic use, even with gentle handling.

I still don't like that the fan turns off when the device is closed. After a gaming session the device gets slightly warm, thanks to the fan it stays pretty cool but blows out heated air. I usually have to either turn the device off if I have to close it, or leave it open and idling to allow it to cool properly. I want an update that at least leaves the fan on until a moderate temperature is reached. Still does not affect my 5 star rating, as the device is still phenomenal

Using a gift card I received, I bought a few paid emulators. One of the best I got was DraStic, a nintendo DS emulator. I can now leave my DS behind and carry both consoles on one device. Even more, I got a psp emulator which runs perfect for most games I've tested. Except for emulating the newer handhelds (3ds and PSVita), this is the ultimate portable console. There are complaints about the size of the device, but if you take into account you can carry all of your ds and psp games on it, you can see it can actually save a lot of space for long trips. The weighted controller makes a good base that turns this into a portable media player. Great for long plane trips to watch movies on.

As a final note, I want to re-emphasize the comfort of holding this device. When playing on the 3DS for long sessions, my hands start to cramp. It does not fill my hand, and I find my self trying to find a good way to hold it without much luck. I end up having to give up after 30 minutes of gaming due to cramping. On the shield however, It fully fits my hand. Even with the extra weight, I find it extremely comfortable to hold. I've easily done 3 hour gaming sessions playing The Walking Dead season 2, Portal, and Half Life without even thinking about my hands. It just feels right. I think it feels nicer than both the xbox 360 and PS3 controllers. It fills your hands fully, and is curved correctly to allow your hands to relax while holding the device.

[UPDATE - 11/21/14: The Accidental Drop Test]
The shield once again exceeds my expectations, this time with it's ruggedness. While in the cafeteria after school waiting for the busses, I was using my laptop. My headphones are located in the same outer pocket as I carry the shield. I kept my headphones out and forgot to zip the flap back up. I picked up my backpack, took a couple steps, and CRASH! My shield fell out and hit the floor. The silver cover part came off and slide about 5 feet. Everyone around me had that look like "OH THATS SO BROKEN". I, knowing how rugged the shield is, simply picked up the shield, walked over and picked up the tag, and then opened and started playing on the shield. No signs whatsoever of the impact, both with the way it looked and the way if functioned; as if the drop had never happened. This thing truly is a beast for the price you pay. Drop a 3ds like that and its bound to break in some way, same with a psp/psvita. The shield is built to last, and has great power for playing any game and emulator available on the play store.

On another note, nvidia recently updated Grid. More games available, and now officially open to all North American and Western Europe residents. Support is now added so you can use keyboard and mouse for streamed games. With an OTG cable and a hub, I was able to stream PC games fromt the grid servers and play them on my HD tv. This update has definitely made streaming from grid more realiable, and the video quality seems to be slightly better. The service will not be free forever, but I will most likely pay for this service depending on the price. It works well, and I have an older linksys router using G, not N. It runs fine, even when I'm across the house. Now the only thing I'm waiting for is the OTA update for Android Lollipop.
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on August 15, 2013
4.5/5 and worth its purchase price all day long. The RETAIL purchase price, not the inflated price asked by these resellers.

The Shield is an emulation powerhouse and is the best device on the market today for playing classic games either on the go or connected to a TV. Pandora and the Xperia Play deserve honorable mention and the XP fills its niche as a much smaller device.

Build quality is apparently excellent and the unit is very solid. I don't love the small size of the screen relative to the bezel size, it looks a bit silly and is wasted real estate. I can't help but envy the Archos Gamepad and Wikipad for the larger screens on some level, even if they are using inferior hardware. The unit is also heavy but manageable at roughly 20 ounces, which is up is about twice a PS Vita or 3 times more than an Xperia Play. The speakers are very loud and reasonably clear, but I find it lacks low end. There is also no physical menu button which is a huge problem for some programs, like making it impossible to save in ScummVM. I also find the R1 and L1 buttons to be uncomfortably small. But I'm nitpicking; the Shield is a very cool device for anyone and a marvelous device for emulation enthusiasts. This must trump the Pandora as the ultimate handheld emulation console. If you love Retroarch on your phone then you'll love it even more on the Shield.

I haven't been able to test PC streaming because I have an ATI card in my gaming rig, but the reports are positive and improvements in the beat streaming program are forthcoming.

Pros: high build quality
High quality screen with excellent viewing angles
Emulation powerhouse. Get Retroarch and a few other emulators and you're good to go.
Strong hinge
Really nice analogs
Controls are comfortable but not PS3/Xbox360 comfortable. 8/10 I'd say. Everything's a compromise.
Fair price for the hardware
Just about the most powerful Android device you can buy today
Stock Android Jellybean unencumbered by bloatware. Thanks Nvidia.
Speakers are very loud and surprisingly clear but lack a satisfying low end for all their volume. Can pass for a boom box in a pinch.
Battery life so far seems very good.

Cons: Styling is not for me. Alienware-alike. The stock grey "shield" insert is very gaudy to me, it should of been matte black. Or even just have a Nvidia logo on it. It just looks bizarre, plain and out of place.
Only 780p video output through the HDMI, this will supposedly be upgraded through firmware in the future. Still..
L1 and R1 buttons are lousy, being too small and too awkward to access. Ugh.
Button travel on the ABXY buttons is excessive imo.
No menu button
Screen could and should be larger. Bezel is huge for a modern device. For something this bulky, which will never fit in a normal pocket, it seems like you may as well have a 7 inch screen. 5 inches is lacking.
Uses the less popular and less affordable mini HDMI for no reason, instead of the better micro HDMI that all phones use
Non user replaceable batteries.
Packaging is needlessly flashy and probably expensive. In a day of asinine unboxing videos I guess it matters, but I'd rather of had an included mini HDMI cable for that expense.

Nvidia is a good company. I learned that they recently gave several Shields to the open-source Libretro project, and that earned them alot of my respect.

Some will compare this to the Vita or 3DS and call it expensive. Consider that the Vita outdoes the 3DS spec wise, while the shield is 4 times faster than the Vita IIRC and has 4 times the ram with a better screen and most importantly it runs ANDROID, an OPEN operating system. It's your device, not Sony's or Nintendo's. You decide what goes on it and what it can do. You do not lived in a walled garden. I would never, ever buy a 3DS or PS Vita while the Sony Xperia Play is only about $50 used and the amazing new Shield is so reasonable.

Buy buy buy. Totally awesome pice of kit.

I look forward to an updated model with a larger screen, light weight, and maybe a menu button for legacy software and forcing the keyboard to come up, a function I deeply miss.

Edit: hinge has gone noisy...
1717 comments| 87 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 17, 2015
As an IT professional I always knew Nvidia for their video cards and other PC hardware, and I always held a high respect for them in that space. But when I got the Shield Portable for my nephew I realized there's more than great hardware behind the Shield, they also have the best customer service I've seen in the consumer products market.
My nephew loved his Shield but one day he accidentally dropped it. Even though it is built like a brick, the screen cracked and the display lost a sector. I called Nvidia to find out how I could get a replacement screen or send the unit for repair. They asked me for some information about the unit and then send me a label to ship the unit back (for free). After just one week I received a replacement unit, in perfect condition, with a bonus screen cover! Let me remind you, the unit didn't fail on its own, and I made it very clear to Nvidia that WE broke the screen. But apparently Nvidia cares about their customers more than any other company I've seen. I won't hesitate to buy Nvidia's products in the future, in whatever space they decide to go into. I love this company.
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on September 1, 2014
Let me begin by saying this device blew away my expectatins. I have been reading reviews on it since it came out back in the middle of 2013. At $300.00 and with mid range reviews, I certainly was not going to spend that kind of money. However the price went down to $200.00 and the shield tablet came out.
The shield tablet sounds good but as much as I would have loved to have the tegra k1 processor, they dropped the most intriguing aspect of the nvidia shield, it was a handheld gaming machine. I have a galaxy tab pro 10.1 so I am not in the market for an 8 inch tablet. I also own a galaxy s5, a moga pro power controller, a 3ds xl, and a ps vita, yet the nvidia shield still seemed worth purchasing.
I bought the moga pro power believing that together with the s5, I would lose interest in purchasing a shield, and I was mistaken. Together the s5 and moga were good, but I disliked having to connect them via bluetooth every time I wanted to play a game with a controller. I love my 3ds and my ps vita because they are dedicated gaming handhelds. I have purchased many games on the play store over the years, many of which were merely good with on screen controls. This is why the nvidia shield merited a purchase because it too is a dedicated gaming handheld. It turns those good games into great games.
The shield has been deemed a niche device and rightfully so. With the exception of shield exclusive play store games like Half Life 2 and Portal, you can play all its games on a smartphone. However the experience you will have playing with on screen controls pales in comparison to what the shield offers. I purchased Tim Schafer's The Cave long ago and despised the touch controls. Booting the same game up on the shield, the controls were already set up to work with the physical game pad and therefore plays so much better. Emulators from snes to psp really shine on the shield. Its a phenomenal feeling carrying a super Nintendo, a psx, a ds, and a psp all around on one device. One last piece of gaming goodness that I have to mention is nvidia grid. I don't know how much longer it will be before nvidia begins to charge for this service but I live in New York with a $30.00 belkin router. Nvidia grid works splendidly and it is absolutely one of the best extras I have ever seen on any piece of technology I have ever purchased.
Finally I will wrap this up by telling you that this device is a media powerhouse. Music, movies, games are all excellent uses for this device. The speakers are remarkable, the 720p screen is excellent and the entire shield has amazing build quality. It is heavier than your other portables, but it feels so good to game on which is the whole point of this system. Oh and that added weight results in some outstanding battery life.
I have only talked about the aspects of the nvidia shield that were important to me. I don't have a gaming pc so there is no logic in telling you about game streaming as I will never experience it. It is bulky but this did not bother me. I do recommend buying the official carrying case, because let's be honest, this was not designed to fit in your pocket.
So if you have researched this device and are still on the fence due to the lack of hype for this system, I say jump on board. If you want a superior android gaming experience with superb extras included right out of the box, then the nvidia shield is for you. I love all my portables but this one is the best for it's gaming and multimedia experience.
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on August 17, 2015
Overview: The Nvidia Shield has a high-quality build with comfortable responsive buttons, and a sharp and bright touch screen. Expandable storage and HDMI output sweeten the pot. Sound quality through the speakers is excellent, and gaming performance is incredible, especially if you are looking for the perfect emulator that play NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Gameboy, Gameboy DS, Nintendo64, PSX, PSP, Dreamcast, Gamecube and many many more console systems games flawlessly!

• Excellent build quality.
• Comfortable gamepad with powerful Gamepad Mapper feature.
• Download Emulators from the play store to flawlessly play 1000's and 1000's of old console games.
• Very fast for an Android device (it is a full tablet as well as a gaming device).
• Lots of connection and storage options (microSD slot that can read up to 64gig and a micro USB port you can connect a HD to + a mini HDMI port).
• It can stream games from a locally networked PC to the Shield Portable.

• Battery takes a long time to charge and only lasts around 4-5 hours.
• Clam Shell design makes using the touch screen a bit of a pain to use comfortably.

Final Analysis: Nvidia has spared no expense on build quality, using thick matte, glossy, and metallic plastic on the chassis and rubberized grips underneath. The 5-inch 720p IPS touchscreen display is one of the best I’ve seen on a portable, producing stunningly vibrant colors, sharp detail, and wide viewing angles. The Shield's heft is due, in large part, to its full sized controls. While other handhelds use scaled down buttons and thumbsticks, the Shield affords players the same suite and size of controls you can find on a console controller. The thumbsticks have the same surface area and range of motion as the DualShock 3 or Xbox 360, while the action buttons, d-pad, and triggers are springy and responsive. The system has a pair of stereo speakers that deliver surprisingly loud and tonally rich audio, though in many on-the-go cases, owners are more likely to use headphones. This is the most powerful Android handheld console on the market today and is in my opinion the future of all Handheld Gaming Systems. At $200.00 out of the box, I believe this is well worth the price.

Final Note: I don't get paid to review products and bought this device with my personal finances. I hope this review is helpful and would be glad to answer any questions regarding my experience with this or any other produces I have purchased on Amazon.
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on June 9, 2014
Hello everyone.

I currently own a 3DS XL, PS Vita, and now a NVIDIA Shield. The NVIDIA Shield is beyond my expectations. I always wondered if it was a good device or not but NVIDIA has come along way. This device stream all my games from Steam OS and some from Origin. The frame rate is unbelievable. The battery, sound, portability, screen and all of the above are A+. It also has the NVIDIA Grid which allow the player access games on the go from a server. It has Android OS and the capabilities are unlimited. I would suggest this device to anyone who is willing to try something new and portable.
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