Friday, August 22, 2014
NVidia just recently released their new gaming portable, the NVidia Tablet. I just picked one up and will give my thoughts on it separately. This article is about it predecessor, the NVidia Shield, recently renamed the NVidia Shield Portable. Let me first go on to say, after a full year of using this device, I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this device. It has become a constant companion for me wherever I go. Seriously. I do a lot of business travel these days, and I bring the NVidia Shield Portable with me more than I do my laptop. When I am around the house, I use the Shield more than I do any of my gaming consoles. I play it from bed, I play it when sitting on the couch. When I travel, the HDMI output goes right into the hotels TV, and if they have something stupid blocking it to try to force hotel content on you, I use my little Brookstone pico projector. So what makes this device so useful? I could go on about ram, storage, Tegra processors, blah blah blah. This is covered more in depth by the many gaming and tech sites out there. I don't need to cover that, its a dead horse at this point. What makes this so useful to me is games. In particular, emulators. I have been waiting for a device like this since the late 90's when the first emulators for NES and SNES hit the scene, when Nesticle and Genecyst first came out and made light year leaps and bounds over the slow and buggy emulators at the time and made console gaming on a PC a reality, I have been waiting for the day when it would hit a handheld form and have every retro system I love in one package. The PSP did a damned good job of this, but it required a hacked PSP. While nowadays it's childs play to hack the PSP, the Shield does everything I want out of the box and more. Emulates every system from the 2600 - PSOne full speed? Check. N64 most games at full speed, including Super Smash Bros, check. Netflix? Check. XBMC? Check. Mame arcade emulator? Check. Touch screen for supporting all games available for the Android? Check. A set of exclusives that take advantage of the awesome power of the Tegra processor, including support for the controller built into it? Check. Support for external controllers, through both bluetooth and USB (this includes the two bluetooth controllers that go with the Gamestick?)? Check. Ability to emulate a PC via PC emulators, so I can use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse and play old PC games? Check. All the other Android capabilities, such as web browser, email, and anything else in the App Store? The next thing is the form factor. A lot of people gripe about the clamshell design. For me, it works surprisingly well. Because it is portable and the screen folds out, I can play this in bed, or close the screen and hook up the HDMI and not have the Shield in the way. I only have one gripe about the device. 1 Single gripe. And that is the cross on the controller. For everything else that is so perfect about this device, that cross tends to "slide", making control with the cross a huge pain. Sometimes games will register an "up" instead of a "left" push because the cheap plastic on it has shifted to the top left. For most games, this is not a problem. But with certain precision games on the NES and SNES where timing of certain movements is key, it tends to flake, leaving a lot of reloaded save states. I hate having to use save states, but it becomes a necessity when you know that darn cross is going to get you killed. If I am using an XBox wires controller or the Gamesticks bluetooth controller, this isn't a problem. But I shouldn't have to rely on an external controller for precision control. Overall, this NVidia Shield Portable is, without a doubt, my favorite gaming device of all time. It has replaced my modded Wii and PSP as my goto gaming device for emulation. When I'm stuck in some crappy hotel, and I don't want to game, I can fire up Netflix and watch the new season of the Killing or House of Cards, or fire up XBMC and watch that last episode of Bobs Burgers that is sitting on my DVR at home and I can't get to. While I am excited to try out the NVidia Shield Tablet due to it's increased speed, I don't know that it will be replacing my Shield Portable simply because a tablet form factor isn't more convenient for me. When I spend some time with it I will write up a review and let you know.