Shield Tablet review: The best tablet for gamers, but not for everyone else

Nvidia Shield Tablet
Credit: Michael Homnick
At a Glance
  • Nvidia Shield Tablet

Nvidia’s Shield Tablet is easily the fastest Android tablet you can get, with a host of really great features for entertainment enthusiasts. But abbreviated battery life, a lackluster display, and considerable heft makes it less appealing outside of its target audience of gamers.

For a more detailed look at this tablet, read Greenbot’s full review of the Nvidia Shield Tablet.

Nvida intends the Shield Tablet to show off its new Tegra K1 chip, which marries four high-power 2.2GHz ARM Cortex 15 CPUs with one low-power battery-saver core. And based on our test results, it does precisely that: The Shield Tablet turned in a score of 4876 in the Vellamo Chrome benchmark and 2504 in the Vellamo multi-core benchmark. The GeekBench multi-core score is 3539, the single-core score is 1112. 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited test produced a score of 30,522. That is not a typo—it’s really that fast. More important, it feels fast, too: No matter what you’re doing, the tablet responds with instant fluidity.

If only the battery lasted longer! In our HD video playback test, it lasted a mere 5 hours 38 minutes (with brightness set to 200 nits, airplane mode enabled). The battery drained faster than I would have expected when in sleep mode, dying after just a couple days; other tablets can go a week or more in standby. High-end 3D games, the kind prominently promoted by Nvidia, will kill this tablet in 2-3 hours, not the 4-plus hours you get on the Shield handheld.

The Shield Tablet is certainly handsome, with an understated design of black and dark greys that disappears into the background. But cramming everything into the Shield Tablet, including a power-hungry Tegra K1 chip and 19.75 watt-hour battery, has made for a decidedly thick and heavy 8-inch tablet. One-handed operation, whether reading books or comics or playing mobile games made for a vertical orientation, grows tiresome rather quickly.

shieldtablet 2 Michael Homnick

It’s a good-looking tablet, but a little thick and heavy compared to its contemporaries.

This is billed as a tablet for gamers, and Android games certainly run flawlessly. But it’s the GameStream functionality that really sets the Shield apart. If you have a late-model Nvidia graphics card in your PC and a good modern router for your home network, you can stream hundreds of PC games to your tablet. In another great feature for gamers, the Shield Tablet can record video of your gameplay or stream it to Twitch, live.

The Shield Tablet’s resolution of 1920x1200 is good for games and HD movies, without burdening the graphics hardware. But other tablets in the 8 to 9 inch range offer sharper pictures, and that’s evident when your browse the web, read ebooks or comics, or edit photos. The Shield Tablet’s colors are also a little dull.

The bottom line

If you’re a big PC gamer and want to play games on an Android tablet, the Shield Tablet should really be on top of your list. It’s a good enough tablet to do all the regular tablet-y things like email, web browsing, and book reading, and it’s just so much faster and more capable for gaming than any other tablet that there really isn’t any competition. It’s tougher to recommend to people who aren’t seriously into games. Individually, the tablet’s battery life, resolution and heft aren’t deal-breakers, but taken together they make the tablet hard to recommend to a general audience.

This story, "Shield Tablet review: The best tablet for gamers, but not for everyone else" was originally published by Greenbot.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • Nvidia Shield Tablet

Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.