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. Heavy 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.