I have been hunting for an ideal Android game controller for a long time. I've tried tons of them: tiny, retro, travel-oriented, and full-size. None have hit that perfect combination of portability and utility (for as much as "utility" can be applied to a gaming accessory) that makes it a recommendation for everyone. Thrustmaster, a minor player in the gaming accessory market, has had its Score-A Bluetooth controller that's specifically designed for Android available at retail for a while now.
Lenovo has crammed just about everything it can think of into the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro to make it interesting, with the exception of a stylus and a can opener. And it is interesting, from a purely technical point of view - it has a huge 13" screen, 2.1 JLB speakers, integrated kickstand, and oh yeah, a built-in pico projector. This machine epitomizes one of the best things about Android hardware: a diversity of manufacturers can yield an amazing variety of features.
Unfortunately, Lenovo's design is more ambitious than its execution. With a build quality that's only average, some questionable hardware decisions, and a software experience that's poor at best, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro simply won't be worth a look for most people.
In a lot of ways, NVIDIA's SHIELD (not to be confused with this SHIELD or that SHIELD) is a typical set-top box. And in many ways it isn't: though NVIDIA has built its living room invader on Android like the previous products in the line, the OS underneath is merely a means to an end. And that end is selling you games, in every form and fashion that the company can come up with.
SHIELD will release its Android TV-powered console sometime in May with a suggested retail price of $199. We took a good long look at both the hardware and the games that NVIDIA hopes you'll play on it.
Dell has a new Android tablet, and it's actually interesting for once. You don't usually think of Dell as a leader in the area of tablet design, but that's what seems to be happening here. The new Dell Venue 8 7000 series tablet is currently the thinnest slate in the world at just 6mm. Ignoring for a moment whether or not it's a good design, you can't deny that's impressive—even the iPad is thicker. The Venue 8 makes some compromises to get there, but maybe that's okay. Let's see how this tablet measures up.
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).
At the pace that NVIDIA and Valve are publishing older PC games for SHIELD devices, we might see Half-Life 3 come as a SHIELD exclusive. (In 2035.) But today, you can play the third stand-alone Half-Life shooter on your SHIELD Tablet. Half-Life 2, Episode One (the oddly-named sequel to the original Half-Life 2) is now available on the Play Store for $7.99. You'll need a SHIELD Tablet to purchase it and an official SHIELD controller to play it.
Episode 1 was released way back in 2006 as a story extension for Half-Life, which was released two years earlier. The original plan was for Valve to release episodic content for Half-Life on a regular basis.
TellTale is getting really good at this. In the developer's short history they've released more than ten games that have adapted the classic point-and-click adventure template to modern pop culture licenses, improving on both the classic formula and their own unique approach. Game of Thrones, like The Walking Dead game first introduced in 2012, is a particularly timely addition. With excitement bubbling over for the fifth season of HBO's adaptation of the fantasy novels, the GoT license is a hot item, and one that TellTale is uniquely qualified to explore.
That said, the very nature of the Song of Ice and Fire franchise means that the developer is more limited than it might otherwise be.
Whenever Google announces a new version of Android, everyone wants to know when they'll get it. If you're an NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet owner, today is your day for Lollipop. That's pretty incredible, as this update comes just days after Google started sending the 5.0 update to most of its own devices. In fact, ST is the first non-Nexus tablet to land the Lollipop update. It's worth noting that, while the update is ready for both the LTE and Wi-Fi versions of the device, NVIDIA is waiting on carrier approval for the LTE update, so it'll be pushed back just a bit later.
Android TV, and by association Nexus Player, are the evolution of Chromecast. It essentially eliminates the need to use a middleman device like a phone or tablet if the user chooses, and allows them to interface directly with the device and TV in many cases. While it still retains all the functionality of Chromecast, a dedicated box allows for a much more robust and feature-rich system, as well as more room for future enhancements.
The Nexus Player is Google's first real go at a set-top box, and the first Android TV box available on the consumer market. It's the most Google-centric of all the set-top boxes, offering access to essentially all services El Goog offers, like Play Movies, Play Music, Play Games, YouTube, the Play Store, and more.
Gaming has come a long way over the past several years. What was considered "top notch" graphics not long ago is no longer impressive in the slightest, and each platform revision aims to bring faster, more realistic titles to the forefront of gaming.
Personally, I think the largest jump has taken place on mobile devices in the last two years or so. As far as Android is concerned, NVIDIA has essentially paved the way for more powerful titles to hit the scene on mobile devices – games like Portal and Half-Life 2 were the best PC gaming had to offer not long ago, and now you can play them on SHIELD Portable or SHIELD Tablet.