I had been thinking for a while of getting some kind of gaming device I could lounge around with and play for as much or as little as I wanted. My PS3 already has a nice layer of dust over it, so a static console was never going to work. PSP/Vita and Gameboys annoy me these days with their propriety, locked down model and the expensive of the games.
I did some research and came across the Nvidia Shield. Based on initial reviews and the spec-sheet it looked like an interesting proposition. Take on 5″ android tablet, stick on a Xbox 360 controller, and power it with the biggest and baddest available mobile CPU/GPU combo. Hmmm….
So I took a punt. What you’re going to read here is my initial first experiences with a Nvidia Shield. A Shield I spent my own hard-earned cash on…
The Shield is not available in Australia officially, but can be had via a few grey-importers. I found one that was supposedly well regarded. The Shield was listed as ‘In stock, Fast Delivery’. Umm… no. Nearly a week later and much communication later – it still hadn’t shipped. I canceled my order and looked elsewhere.
I then get hold of Mike from Buzz Gadgets in Melbourne. Unlike a lot of other online retailers who actually ship you the item directly from Honk Kong, Mike actually took the chance to bring a few into the country to sell directly. Must have been a good call as he’s nearly sold out! I ordered it on a Friday, shipped Monday, got it Wednesday morning. Could not complain in the slightest.
Not mush to really say. Its well packed and displayed. Comes with a micro usb cable and charger. Delicate surfaces are covered in removable plastic etc.
This was no harder than any other Android device. Connect to WiFi, sign in with a Google account and you’re up and running. The battery was about 3/4 charged when I got it which isnt unusual.
In a word – wonderful. It’s solid but not bulky. Feels well built without feeling heavy. The ergonomics as a gaming rig is perfect even with my big hands. All the buttons feel in good reach, including the joysticks and the rear triggers. My only complaint would be the overly-glossy coating on the screen which collects finger prints really, really easy. Other than that, the only other thing would be the way the back of the screen blocks the SD card slot when open. Its hard enough to get the card in and out as it is.
The main reason I got the Shield was as an emulator player. I’m a bit of a retro gamer. I love playing old Sega and Nintendo games like Alex Kidd and Mario. Or Need for Speed: High Stakes from the Playstation 1. But there is nothing available on the market that can do that mobile. Emulation is hot on Android, but the lack of physical controls is a killer.
So straight up I installed RetroArch. RetroArch is all your favorite emulators rolled into one. It covers all the Nintendo, Sega, PSX, Mame emulation engines and makes it easy to use. Its also just been updated to automatically use the Shields controls.
With a card full of Roms, within minutes I was reliving old long-lost games I hadnt played in years. All with perfect video, audio, and controls.
The Shield is easily the best emulation machine ever.
But what about games actually written for this level of hardware?
The Shield comes bundled with Sonic 4. Its plays great (although why they disabled the use of the DPad I’ll never know) and looks great. But Sonic has never been my cup of tea.So today I downloaded Asphalt 8, the latest in Asphalt franchise. OMG. Seriously? This from what is a glorified mobile phone? The Graphics, the Audio are just great. Smooth, well detailed. Couldnt ask anymore from a car racing game. It doesnt seem that long ago that these kind of graphics were unheard of on a full-blown games console.
So, I am I happy with it? Absolutely. I already had pretty high hopes for the Nvidia Shield, but its turned out better than I hoped.