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NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Coming July 29th

July 22, 2014, 4:09 p.m.
Michael Inouye, Principal Analyst

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NVIDIA officially announced its SHIELD Tablet, with a July 29th release date in the US – the SHIELD Tablet is also NVIDIA’s first gaming device (end-to-end product) to ship outside North America (August 14th in Europe and later in 2014 for other markets).  Priced at $299 and $399 for the 16 GB (Wi-Fi) and 32 GB (Wi-Fi + LTE – compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile but no announced carrier certifications at time of writing) respectively the SHIELD Tablet is priced competitively for most premium 8” tablets, other specs and features below:

  • Tegra K1 Processor (192 core Kepler GPU, 2.2 GHz Quad Core A15 CPU – 32bit)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 8-inch Full HD IPS display (1920×1200)
  • Front facing stereo speakers and dual bass reflex port
  • Front and Rear cameras (both 5MP)
  • 4K Ultra-HD ready (also includes mini HDMI 1.4b port = 4K @ 30fps)
  • Micro SD slot (up to 128GB)
  • Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, dual-band a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Integrated Stylus
  • 19.75 WHr battery (up to 10-hours HD video playback)
  • 13.7 ounces (0.36” thick)
  • Native Twitch support

NVIDIA will also offer a wireless controller for $59 that connects via Wi-Fi Direct – it also works with the NVIDIA SHIELD Portable, which, for the time being, remains unchanged from a hardware perspective (the SHIELD Portable cannot be used as a controller for the tablet).  Like the SHIELD Portable NVIDIA’s tablet will also support NVIDIA GAMESTREAM (stream PC games from remote computer running supported NVIDIA Graphics cards) and NVIDIA GRID (cloud gaming).  The support for Twitch recording is a great add for mobile gamers and matches features offered on consoles and PCs. 

As a tablet the SHIELD compares well to the competition, albeit the screen is on the diminutive side if used as the display screen while gaming with the wireless controller (the tablet will also work with a third-party Bluetooth controller as well).  Considering the price point NVIDIA targeted, along with the included hardware specs, however, the screen size is not a significant blemish on an otherwise tantalizing gaming tablet.  Will more gamers embrace this SHIELD device?

Early indications appear significantly more positive than the portable handheld, which was viewed as too application specific.  The lack of motion controls in the wireless controller is surprising, considering the number of mobile games that are optimized for motion gaming – then again this could reflect NVIDIA’s desire to target the core console/PC players which use these gesture controls less frequently.  When the SHIELD Portable launched last year the target consumer (gamer with a NVIDIA GeForce video card) was relatively narrow and greatly limited the market potential for the device.  This incarnation of the SHIELD however will appeal to a much wider audience.

The game library is already starting to sound more like a PC or console platform than a smartphone/tablet and these lines should continue to blur as more developers support SHIELD – we’ll have to keep any eye on Shield Hub (formerly Tegra Zone).  As great as the SHIELD Portable is from a gaming perspective the tablet is the version of SHIELD NVIDIA should have launched with last year.  No, the SHIELD Tablet won’t replace a current generation game console, but that really isn’t the goal.  By brining console/PC quality games to mobile platforms NVIDIA is hoping to convert or bring some of the casual gamers closer to the core and to encourage console/PC gamers to embrace mobile, which ultimately benefits the video game market as a whole.   This is certainly a more convincing effort than last year’s portable.