When the Nvidia Shield was first announced, I couldn’t help but be excited. What I wasn’t excited about though was the initial asking price, which was $299 back in June of 2013. Now fast-forward to when I picked one up in December of 2014, and I managed to snag a new one from GameStop for $139. That’s a pretty steep price drop for being only a year and a half.
Of course in the technology world, a year and a half can seem like an eternity. Smartphones get more advanced, RAM and cpu specs increase, and even the resolution of screens seems to only improve. I picked up an Xperia Z3 in November, and I didn’t even consider comparing the Nvidia Shield to my also recently purchased Xperia.
When I held my phone up to the screen side-by-side, they are exactly the same size! They both run on Android and virtually use the same library of games and apps. Sure, there are a few exclusive games that only “support” the Shield, such as Half-Life 2 and Portal, but other than that there isn’t much of an advantage that the Nvidia Shield has. It’s basically just a 5 inch Android phone with an Xbox 360 controller permanently attached to it, but with no phone capability. “But the Nvidia Shield can stream pc games to your handheld!” some might argue. Well, due to a recent Android app that reverse-engineered Nvidia’s streaming technology, so can ANY recent Android device.
I recently found this app on the Google Play store called “Limelight Game Streaming“, and now I can use my phone to play games streamed from my pc. Another thing I forgot to mention is that my Xperia Z3 has a 1080p 5 inch screen, while the Nvidia Shield has a 720p 5 inch screen. So where is the advantage to using the Nvidia Shield when I can use my phone? Is the tethered controller on the Shield the only advantage now?
Well, turns out the Xperia Z3 natively supports the Dual Shock 3 and 4 controllers through a bluetooth connection. The only thing I need to buy is an adapter to attach my controller to my phone and I basically have the exact same experience as using an Nvidia Shield, but with a higher resolution picture and a more comfortable controller.
I do feel kind of silly for picking up the Nvidia Shield in hindsight. I own too many handhelds already. I am a sucker for a “good deal” like many other people I guess. The device does have some neat aspects to it, but many of the features it has feels redundant since my phone can virtually do the exact same thing. I’ll hold onto it and tinker with it and I’ll post my thoughts if I discover anything cool.
If you don’t have a smartphone for some reason and are looking for a neat somewhat-portable game system, this is definitely a pretty awesome device. Just be aware that it feels more like a smartphone with a tethered controller than a game console. It’s definitely more comfortable and capable than the 3DS and PSVita at least.