Living with NVIDIA Shield - the “other” Android gaming device

Posted by Rob Enderle

Nvidia's gaming system, Shield, could prove to be a lot of fun. Rob Enderle experiences the joys beyond traditional gaming.

There has been a lot of talk this month about the gaming system Google is planning to roll out. In the meantime, I’ve been living with the Android gaming system built by Nvidia which is called “Shield." 

Shield was recently delayed to fix a hardware component problem (better to get it right before it ships rather than have to do a recall) so I figured I’d talk about some of my experiences and why this thing is worth waiting for.  

The Unlocked Game System

One of the first things I noticed was how inexpensive the games are. Indeed, many are $2 which is a hell of a lot cheaper than games on a console or proprietary game system. Plus,  you can plug this into your TV if you want a big screen experience. However, I was just fine with playing this as a handheld. The reason the titles are so inexpensive? Game makers don’t have to pay a hefty fee to Nvidia to support the system. While this makes the system more expensive, it also results in games that are a fraction of the cost. The closest analogy is an unlocked smartphone connected to a low cost carrier, you get similar service to one of the big guys for a fraction of the cost.   

I didn’t find that one iconic title like Halo is for the Xbox but I found a ton of games that were fun to play. I expect higher end titles will show up after this game system ships because developers will then have something to build these games for. It is really a great deal of fun and the controller felt good in my hand, something I’ve never gotten out of a PlayStation (I think Sony designs for really small children). 

Sound

One surprise is how good the sound is coming out of this device. While not a Boombox by any stretch of the imagination, it does actually fill the room with sound far better than any cell phone, tablet or even laptop (except maybe one of the old big gaming laptops from Alienware).  This is impressive sound and it is a wonder they can get it to come out of such a small device.  

HD Movies

This actually puts out a really nice image, I’ve watched the new Oz movie and Identity Thief on it. You can download the movies onto the device and either watch them on the small screen or use a HDMI cable, or wireless, to connect to a big screen and watch the HD movie from across the room. You could use this much as we used to use portable DVD players while traveling.  

Drone Pilot

But the most fun I’ve been having is flying an AR Drone. This is a relatively affordable personal drone which is designed to work off of Android or IOS. The drone is amazing because it has ground sensors which allow it to hover in place and auto land. This can be handy because if you’ve ever flown an electric helicopter, particularly a big one, you’ll find the first few landing experiences expensive (you’ll likely wreck the copter). No such issues with the AR Drone.

It even tries to compensate for wind and is really easy to fly. With the built in camera feeding the screen and the actual physical controllers on the Shield Pad it is as if this thing was made to be a drone controller. It is just a ton of fun. Later on this week I’m going to try and reenact a scene from the Green Hornet (the old TV Show) and see if I can launch the drone from my trunk. Granted the Green Hornet Drone looked more like a flying saucer. 

It is also a handy way to check what is going on with my roof solar panels or scare the crap out of squirrels. The combination is just a ton of fun.  

Wrapping Up: Shield is a Ton of fun

I’ve been having a surprising amount of fun with my Shield controller (think they should actually have a S.H.I.E.L.D. version to support the new TV show because of the drone solution). It has been a ton more fun than I expected it would be and I’m now thinking of ways I could customize it and make it uniquely mine (it will come with skin options). If I figure something cool out I’ll share pictures in a future post, until then you’ll find me patrolling my neighborhood with my AR Drone and Shield. It’s going to be a great summer!