NVIDIA has just taken the stage at GDC for its big "Made to Game" announcement, and guess what... it's another SHIELD. This one is just called SHIELD, though, and it's an Android TV box. NVIDIA has added its own twist on Android TV, just like it does with regular Android. The new NVIDIA SHIELD has support for native 4K 60Hz video signals and NVIDIA GRID game streaming technology.
Owners of Tegra-powered devices know those chips are capable of some fantastic graphical feats. There isn't another hardware platform out there that can play Half-Life 2 and Portal in their original forms. So what is Pure Pool doing with all that power? It's rendering really, really shiny billiard balls.
A couple of days ago, we reported that NVIDIA was pushing update 2.2 to SHIELD Tablet units. For the most part, the update is a good one – it brings more GRID games, improved battery life, broader support for high performance chargers, and overall performance enhancements. Those are all the makings of an excellent update, no doubt.
However, a small number of users are experiencing weird color reproduction issues on their tablets, mostly with bright colors like red and orange – they just look dull post-update. After receiving a tip about this very thing, I realized that my LTE unit seems to be suffering from this bug, and the once vibrant red and black wallpaper now just looks much less enthusiastic.
If you're in the market for a new Android tablet right now, there's a good chance that either the Nexus 9 or SHIELD Tablet is the front runner in the race for your dollars. While the N9 is a decent tablet (depending on who you ask, anyway), it's hard for any tablet to best NVIDIA's first large-screen offering - in this writer's humble opinion, it is the best Android tablet money can buy right now.
And if your money is the one buying it, you'll be happy to know that, should you choose to get it from Amazon, you'll get a $30 Amazon gift card alongside your purchase.
NVIDIA announced the latest push for its GRID cloud gaming service earlier today with Saint's Rov IV and more titles in the coming weeks, and now there's a SHIELD Tablet update to go along with it. In addition to enabling more GRID games, the update improves a few aspects of the device. It will stay on Android 5.0.1, though.
One of the lesser-known portions of the custom game software on NVIDIA's SHIELD Portable and SHIELD Tablet is GRID, an OnLive-style streaming PC gaming system. It allows owners to play a selection of full-feature PC games streamed from NVIDIA's own virtualized systems at a data center, no personal gaming PC required. The service is still in beta, but has been growing steadily since its introduction a little over two years ago. By the beginning of March, 40 PC games will be available for free to SHIELD owners.
The next PC game added to the service, live this morning, is Saints Row 4.
Exclusive titles like Half-Life 2 and Portal have served to make Nvidia's Shield devices more attractive to gamers, but that's usually about graphical optimization. The newly released OlliOlli is a bit different. This is a retro-themed skateboard stunt game that previously resided on Steam. Now it's on Android and exclusive to the Shield Portable. Yes, the Portable. Oh, and it's $12.99, just like the Steam version.
In his review of the original SHIELD a year and a half ago, Jeremiah Rice noted that NVIDIA's gaming gadget was amazingly well-suited to game emulators. Combined with a robust emulation scene on Android, especially for older game consoles, it's possible to play a ton of great games on the SHIELD without ever stopping by the Play Store. This morning NVIDIA issued a software update specifically to improve performance for game emulator apps.
Update 101 is tiny, just over 3 megabytes, and in fact NVIDIA's release notes say that the OTA is "optional" (something you don't often hear from manufacturers). Even if you're not an emulation fan yourself, the nature of Android upgrades means it's probably easier to download and apply it than to ignore it (and the SHIELD's unlocked bootloader means that root users aren't inconvenienced).
If you're wondering what NVIDIA has been working on for the last few months, you'll only have to wait a few more weeks to find out. The gaming and graphics company has sent invitations to technology press, including Android Police, for a presentation on March 3rd in San Francisco. According to the email, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang will be demonstrating something "5 years in the making" that will "redefine the future of gaming."
Android fans are obviously looking for something centered around the new Tegra X1 chipset, which NVIDIA demonstrated last month at the Consumer Electronics Show. That particular event did not include any new consumer-grade hardware, instead focusing on the X1's impressive specifications and applications for embedded electronics in the auto segment.