Last year the NVIDIA shield was released (wikipedia tells me July) in US only, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on one shortly after.
Although I live in Europe, it is easy enough to get import hardware; though I really have strong feelings about consoles being delivered first in some continents and (maybe) somewhere else after a long while (see how the amazing Dreamcast ended up like!). That said, I jump straight into the review.
The console is a bit chunky and feels a bit heavy too. This doesnt mean it is terrible to play with; just means that after one hour it might get a bit annoying. Screen is OK, not the biggest but just about right for playing, in particular, mame games come out quite well!
Framerate is also very good; never had any issues, even with MAME games (at least, all the 2d ones were working great!), same goes for N64 games
All in all, it is a very nice machine for gaming, doesn’t have a webcam, but for that there is always the mobile phone. Touch screen is responsive, but unfortunately it is not very practical to use (basically any games using swipes and similar will be quite painful to play). When swipes are only use to set directions though (for example having the classical controls at the bottom of the screen), NVIDIA came out with a nice workaround. It is in fact possible to associate buttons to a given action on the screen!
Never found myself using it though… There is plenty of games that will support the pad natively fortunately; and the tegra ones are also quite an eye candy!
So, all good on the gaming side, the only comment I have is that not enough games really push graphics hard enough.Also, I found GTA San Andreas, despite being fully supported by NVIDIA, seemed to drain my battery in just over half an hour. Using other apps this doesn’t happen and found the battery to last quite long.
There are several features that I found great (and unique) on this device:
- PC video game streaming
- TV connectivity
- GRID gaming
Streaming from PC was not so easy. Although it works (almost) flawlessly, it requires a GTX 660 video card or later to work (so, with great sadness my fine GTX 580 had to go…). Games then run great, playing batman or Skyrim while watching TV or laying on bed is just great! Unfortunately it comes with a drawback; having all these details in a 5 inches screen (even with a respectable 1280×720) is not really breathtaking.
And here to the next point… on the picture above I connected the shield to my TV. Once connected the device through a mini HDMI the shield gets into “Console mode”.
Playing android games on TV is quite nice, but again, the definition of the games is sometimes just not high enough. Also, the top of the screen is generally cut (cannot see the little wireless indicator on top for example). That said, we can still stream our games from PC! Streaming is still optimised for the Shield screen, but it won’t look too bad on screen, just don’t expect the 1080p sharpness. It is even possible to connect a microsoft pad using the micro USB on the back, for a real console feeling!
Last but not least, grid gaming. I was able only lately to play it from Europe, and given the screen size, it really does not suffer from the dreaded “youtube effect”. It feels like a real videogame, except when connectivity starts to go away. Then it will become painful…
To answer the post question, yes, it works in Europe (maybe not so much with the grid) out of the box, as the nvidia games are available usually on google play internationally
I think it leaks out from the post that I didn’t regret buying the Shield. The idea of streaming on TV is great, as well as grid, and I can see a great potential for the future (maybe where us outside US can enjoy seeing it on the shelves), maybe with more optimised games (possibly with much, much better graphics). I would also increase the screen a little bit…
I read around that a Shield 2 is in the make – I will definitely look forward for that, I really believe if the concept is well developed it can really compete even with mainstream consoles, that are more and more drifting away from video games (ehm, any reference is purely coincidental). Who wouldn’t want to finish his favourite game (i.e. Skyrim) while waiting the bus? I really think this console is ambitious enough to offer us this, but execution seems hard, only time will tell…