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First Look: The Nvidia Shield is a great gaming portable currently awaiting great games
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First Look: The Nvidia Shield is a great gaming portable currently awaiting great games

3:49 /

The Nvidia Shield is a performance monster, but it needs many more quality games to prove its worth. Only the hard-core need apply, for now.

The NVIDIA SHIELD is an extremely well-made device with performance that pretty much obliterates any mobile product before it, but like most new game system launches, there's currently a lack of available games worth your time. If you take an Xbox 360 controller and slapped a 5-inch 720p screen on top of it, SHIELD is pretty much what you'd have. SHIELD costs $300 for 16 gigabytes of storage. On the back is a micro-SD card slot, mini HDMI, micro-USB, a headphone jack as well as triggers and shoulder buttons. On the front are dual analog sticks, a D pad, 4 face buttons, 2 very powerful speakers as well as home, back, volume, and start buttons. The NVIDIA button takes you to the SHIELD interface hub. SHIELD felt a bit heavy to hold initially but after a while, I got used to its weight and that feels pretty natural. As controllers go, I'd say of the ones I've tried, it's second only to the Xbox 360 controller in comfort. The screen folds down when not in use and can fold back 180 degrees, the ideal position for playing touch-only games like Angry Birds for which space games like NOVA 3 are a lot more difficult to control and the ability to fold the screen back a full 360 degrees like a Lenovo tablet would've made playing such games as well as typing a lot easier. If you have a PC with a GeForce 600 Series or later and a fast enough router, you can stream full PC games on SHIELD. The streaming service is only in beta launch so it still sometimes requires that you access your PC directly to get some games working. And even then not all games are fully compatible even if they include native controller support. Thankfully, most of the games I've tried worked pretty well provided I stay pretty close to the router and didn't have to meet walls between Shield and it. It's a promising feature but in its current form it requires that you're within Wi-Fi range of your PC. It won't work if you're in a hotel or on a plane and really right now only benefits hardcore gamers who wanna play their high-end games in every room of their homes without buying several PC's. SHIELD is compatible with all Google Play apps, but only about 100 games at launch worked with its physical controls and only a handful of those are worth your time or money despite their relatively low prices. However there are a few gems like Riptide GP2 and Cordy 2 that seemed to take advantage of both SHIELD'S controls and horsepower. Non-game apps like Netflix and Google+ work with no problems. Android games performance on SHIELD is really second to none in games like Riptide GP2 and the beta version of Dead Trigger 2 look incredible for mobile games feature lots of effects while running at high frame rates. There just needs to be more of them. Swiping through the interface was always smooth and quick and Wi-Fi performance was fast and in most cases consistent. SHIELD is also compatible with the Parrot AR Drone app which allowed me to have experiences like this. SHIELD is a high-quality device with stellar performance and while most of what it currently offers will first and foremost appeal to hardcore gamers, I'm looking forward to more compatible games to see release. Casual gamers should be satisfied by the cheaper Nexus 7. However hardcore gamers will appreciate SHIELD'S superior performance and tactile controls as long as they're willing to wait for more games and take advantage of them. For more information, check out my full review at CNET.com. I'm Eric Franklin and this has been a First Look at the NVIDIA SHIELD.

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