NVIDIA Defend pill assessment: a strong slate with a gaming habit

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

NVIDIA’s Defend gaming handheld was a peculiar, singular gadget: an costly Android moveable aimed squarely at shoppers that had already bought excessive-finish desktop GPUs. It was novel and enjoyable, however it wasn’t for everyone: Should you weren’t a gamer, there wasn’t a lot level to proudly owning a Defend. Now, that is altering: NVIDIA’s second-era gaming gadget is not a unusual handheld; it is a pill. Particularly, the Defend pill is a $299 eight-inch gaming slate powered by NVIDIA’s new Tegra K1 processor. It needs to be all the things to everybody: a excessive-finish gaming gadget, an outstanding media pill and a efficiency benchmark that may drive the cellular business ahead. Most of all, it needs to attraction to extra than simply the hardcore gamer. Does it? Let’s discover out.

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NVIDIA Defend pill

86
NVIDIA

Defend Pill

Execs

  • Quick, highly effective and constructed for players
  • NVIDIA GameStream nonetheless impresses
  • A strong pill in its personal proper

Cons

  • Controller not included
  • Mediocre digital camera 
  • Mushy energy button
  • Restricted (however expandable) space for storing

Abstract

NVIDIA’s second-era Defend is extra highly effective, extra versatile and extra accessible than its predecessor. It’s not solely the most effective Android gaming system available on the market, but in addition a advantageous pill, too. 

eighty two
NVIDIA

Defend Wi-fi Recreation Controller

Execs

  • Feels good in hand
  • Decrease latency than Bluetooth controllers
  • Clickable mousepad makes menus straightforward to browse

Cons

  • Mousepad isn’t very delicate
  • Constructed-in microphone is oversensitive
  • Solely works with NVIDIA’s hardware
  • Have to be bought individually 

Abstract

The Defend Wi-fi Controller is a strong gamepad in its personal proper, outfitted with loads of helpful bells and whistles for interacting together with your NVIDIA units. However the excessive price ticket leaves a sting since you possibly can’t use it with something however these NVIDIA units.

Hardware

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

Black, inexperienced and silver have been the colours that outlined the unique Defend, however this yr’s mannequin is decidedly extra monochrome: The slate is draped in a mixture of shiny and reflective blacks. It is a clear, if much less distinctive, look, however the absence of colour doesn’t suggest the Defend is simply one other cookie-cutter pill. If something, it seems extra like an HTC One than a Nexus 7, sporting lengthy, matte black audio system on the system’s prime and backside edges.

The highest speaker bar is cut up in half by a 5-megapixel entrance-dealing with digital camera with an similar shooter (sans autofocus) on the rear of the gadget. Let’s not flip the pill over simply but, although — a handful of ports, holes and buttons run across the edges. A lot of the motion is on the fitting: an influence button, quantity toggles, a microSD slot and an embedded, passive stylus for pen enter. The WiFi mannequin additionally encompasses a walled-in cutout for a micro-SIM card slot — an ever-current reminder that you simply might have bought the LTE mannequin (extra on that gadget under). The underside edge is host to a easy bass speaker vent, whereas the left aspect is marked solely by the magnetic connectors that latch onto an non-compulsory display cowl. The highest has somewhat extra happening: one other bass vent, a headphone jack, micro-HDMI connectivity and the all-essential energy/micro-USB port. Oh, and that bottom? Only a clean, matte floor accented solely by the phrase “Defend,” etched in shiny black lettering. Stylish.

Though the pill feels sturdy and nicely-constructed, it is not good. Placing all the Defend’s ports on one half of the highest edge leaves it feeling a bit crowded, and thumbing its bodily toggles gave me second ideas about its construct high quality. It isn’t that it feels low cost or painful to carry (a tiny, chamfered edge between the display and pill sides ensures a cushty grip), however the buttons’ tactile response is just a little mushy. The tender depressions are okay for tweaking quantity, however I used to be by no means positive if I used to be utilizing the facility button appropriately. Did it go down all the best way? Did I miss it? Till the display reacted, I simply could not inform. The pill’s folding, magnetic cowl (bought individually) quickly turned my favourite approach of waking the system: simply flip it open, and the display is on.

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

On the lookout for exact specs? Okay, we have got these, too: The Defend pill measures eight.eight inches (221mm) lengthy, 5 inches (126mm) vast and zero.35 inch (9.2mm) thick. For comparability’s sake, that makes it taller, wider and thicker than the Nexus 7 — although it does sport a bigger eight-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 show. Weighing in at 390g (thirteen.7 ounces) it’s kind of heavier, too, although it is nonetheless lighter than each variations of the Kindle Hearth HD.

When you have been to crack the Defend open (please do not), you’d discover NVIDIA’s newest cellular chip: a 192-core Kepler GPU paired with a 2.2GHz quad-core Cortex-A15 processor. The Tegra K1 is the corporate’s delight and pleasure (no less than for now; a sixty four-bit variant is presently in improvement). It encompasses a cellular GPU designed particularly to push the bounds of Android and supply “PC class” and “trendy console class” graphics on a small display (extra on that later). The pill additionally packs 2GB of RAM, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi with 2.4GHz and 5GHz help, Bluetooth four.zero LE and a GPS radio.

Proper now, the Defend could be had solely as a WiFi pill with 16GB of storage, however NVIDIA plans to supply an LTE model later this yr, which can include twice the space for storing and entry to 5 LTE bands (2/four/5/7/17) and 4 HSPA+ bands (1/2/four/5). It’s going to be unlocked, too, however heavy customers could also be tempted to attend only for the additional storage. As a result of actually, it does not take lengthy to refill 16GB — particularly on a tool geared towards gaming. 9/30/2014 Replace: As of in the present day, that LTE mannequin is formally obtainable; see the “Gaming over LTE” part under for extra particulars.

Show and sound

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

The Defend pill’s eight-inch, 283-ppi, 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display will not be the brightest or sharpest pill show, however I used to be exhausting-pressed to discover a authentic grievance. Distinction, colour high quality and a 380-nit brightness have been all greater than sufficient for indoor use, although like most shiny shows, it may be troublesome to learn in direct daylight. Nonetheless, it has clear, balanced colours, nice distinction and large viewing angles. I learn a half-dozen comics, watched a film and performed hours of video games with out considering twice concerning the show high quality.

Earlier, I made some extent of calling out the Defend’s audio system. They have been the very first thing I observed concerning the pill, and with good purpose: Their design allows a real hand-held stereo expertise. It is an exception to an irksome normal; many tablets and smartphones cripple themselves by banishing their audio system to at least one finish of the gadget, making stereo sound separation unattainable. Contemplating how a lot media we eat on these units, that is simply unacceptable. Fortunately, NVIDIA received it proper, putting a speaker on every finish of the pill.

So, how does it sound? Simply okay. The Defend’s audio system do not crackle or distort, however they are not extremely loud both. The sound is balanced, and good general, nevertheless it will not fill a room and it undoubtedly cannot exchange an excellent set of headphones. This makes the Defend pill’s audio expertise just a little combined: It isn’t as loud as its predecessor, however its audio system aren’t as tinny both. On the finish of the day, nevertheless, the pill’s design makes it unattainable to by chance “block” the audio system by holding the system “incorrectly,” and that is value no less than some credit score.

Direct Stylus 2.zero

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

The most effective methods so as to add worth to a pill is to bake in stylus help. The issue is, lively, strain-delicate pens (e.g., the Wacom tech used within the Samsung Galaxy Word) are costly. Passive stylus know-how is reasonable, however provides an inferior pen expertise. NVIDIA’s answer was to create Direct Stylus: a rigorously designed passive pen that mimics an lively stylus by way of intelligent software program tips and a bit GPU wizardry. This not-so-lively stylus first confirmed up within the Tegra Observe 7, however NVIDIA gave it an improve on the Defend, renaming it Direct Stylus 2.zero.

That numerical identifier principally provides as much as a redesigned pen, beginning with an extended, narrower tip that curves barely. That is necessary as a result of whereas most styli imprint a dot-like form on the floor of the pill’s display, this pen leaves extra of an apostrophe. The added floor space may make the pen extra correct, however a lot of the pen’s efficiency enhancements may be chalked as much as higher software program. The Defend’s greatest showcase of that is Dabbler, a portray app that leverages the pill’s GPU to simulate the impact of paint on actual supplies.

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

I’m not an artist.

Dabbler is definitely fairly spectacular — it takes the kind of paint, materials, lighting and even the pill’s place under consideration. A line drawn within the app’s watercolor mode, as an example, will slowly soak into the floor of the simulated paper, and can even bleed down into different sections of the fabric if the app’s “gravity” mode is turned on. Equally, oil paints can glob and cake up on the floor of a canvas, and the artist can change the path of the sunshine supply to have an effect on how the ultimate portray seems to be. It is a neat idea, however it’s brief on options: There aren’t many device or paint types to select from, and it lacks the simulated strain sensitivity that the know-how is able to.

Whereas I am not a lot of a effective artist myself, I did discover writing with the stylus to be a pleasure. The passive pen labored nicely sufficient in pocket book apps like Evernote and JusWrite, however I used to be most impressed by its handwriting recognition. My infantile penmanship — stated to be unreadable by my Okay-12 academics, school professors and employers — was persistently acknowledged by the Defend’s software program. This function can be utilized in any app that accepts textual content enter, too: All it’s a must to do is maintain down the spacebar for a second and change to the handwriting keyboard. Fairly clean.

Defend Wi-fi Controller

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

The Defend makes a pleasant standalone pill, however let’s not child ourselves: If you wish to get any critical gaming completed on this gadget, you are going to want a controller. Don’t be concerned, NVIDIA has you coated. Introducing the Defend Wi-fi Controller, a $60 WiFi gamepad that guarantees decrease latency than your common Android controller. It is not the solely choice Defend consumers have (the pill additionally connects to any Bluetooth gamepad), nevertheless it has the benefit of being designed particularly for Defend units. This implies it has a couple of additional options — specifically, a clickable mousepad and a devoted NVIDIA button (for launching the NVIDIA hub).

That first function might look like an odd factor to tack onto a gaming controller, however for the Defend, it makes a variety of sense. One of many gadget’s flagship options is NVIDIA GameStream, its capacity to wirelessly stream excessive-finish PC video games instantly from a GeForce GTX-powered Home windows machine — however desktop video games do not all the time play properly with the streaming setup. Some have mouse-operated launcher menus, or refuse to acknowledge the gamepad till the consumer prompts a selected setting. The official gamepad’s mousing floor makes it straightforward to navigate these menus with out twiddling with the pill’s touchscreen or the host pc itself. It is a bit of underneath-delicate (NVIDIA says it is engaged on this), however nonetheless handy. It is suitable with the unique Defend too. All advised, it is the right companion for both system when related to a TV in console mode.

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

The remainder of the gamepad appears fairly commonplace: two analog thumbsticks, a directional pad, 4 face buttons, two bumpers and a pair of triggers. It is a good-feeling controller — like an outsized Xbox 360 pad with the PlayStation thumbstick format — however it’s hardly a revolution in gamepad design. The one commonplace it is lacking is drive suggestions vibration, although it does have a number of different bells and whistles: quantity controls, a constructed-in mic and a headset jack that pipes in all audio from the pill. Sadly, the microphone solely works in Android: Video games streamed from the PC merely will not acknowledge it. Whereas it is useful to have an inner microphone for Twitch streaming, I discovered that it had an annoying tendency to select up button presses and different controller noises. In case you’re planning to stream your gameplay, use a headset.

Lastly, the controller has yet one more quirk: capacitive begin, again and Android house buttons. These contact-delicate toggles are just a little odd at first, however contemplating they’re designed for an Android pill, they really feel superb. Additionally they pull double-obligation: Lengthy-urgent the again or begin buttons typically brings up context-delicate menus, and it does not take lengthy to get used to them. My solely disappointment with Defend’s wi-fi controller is how single-minded it’s — it really works like a dream with NVIDIA’s personal hardware, however wiring it as much as your pc to make use of as a regular gamepad produces null outcomes. I anticipated this, positive, however having an additional PC controller would have been a pleasant perk.

Software program

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

The Defend runs a model of Android four.four.2 that is fairly near inventory, though NVIDIA did handle to weave in a number of additional options. The perfect of those, definitely, is the pill’s built-in Twitch help: Pull down the notification menu at any time, in any app, and you may instantly stream your pill’s display, microphone and entrance-dealing with digital camera to Twitch. Technically, that is the pill’s “share” menu, and it is the cellular equal of NVIDIA’s GeForce Expertise ShadowPlay function. The pop-up menu can stream to Twitch, seize the final 5 minutes of display time, manually document the display and reserve it to reminiscence or just take a screenshot. The menu can be referred to as up with an extended-press on the gamepad’s again button too, making it straightforward to entry in any state of affairs. The entire thing is strong, lovely and seamlessly built-in into the OS.

A lot of the OS’ different tweaks are carryovers from earlier merchandise. Holding the gamepad’s begin button will convey up NVIDIA’s gamepad mapper, as an example. This overlay lets you create digital “contact” areas which you could manipulate with the gamepad, making it potential for any recreation with contact controls to be performed with the controller. Making profiles could be a little tedious, however virtually each recreation already has a mapping sourced from the group, which could be downloaded with the contact of a button. The DirectStylus options discovered within the Tegra Notice slate are right here too — pulling out the pen brings up a menu of suitable apps, and extra buttons could be added to the navigation bar for fast entry to stylus-unique controls.

These are all good tweaks to the OS, however the true Defend expertise hinges on launching the Defend Hub app, previously referred to as “TegraZone.” Regardless of the rebranding, the Defend Hub is essentially the identical expertise NVIDIA baked into (and repeatedly up to date for) its final moveable gaming gadget. It is principally the gadget’s “console” interface, a launcher for all the Defend’s gaming features. There is a retailer part that redirects to the Google Play web page for featured and optimized video games, a information feed for NVIDIA bulletins and disparate app drawers for Android video games, media apps and PC video games. There are search and settings choices in NVIDIA’s menu, too, however these simply kick the consumer again to the usual Android interface.

Whereas the NVIDIA hub is not technically new, it is gone by means of a number of main overhauls since its introduction on the unique Defend. It is higher designed, simpler to navigate with a controller and usually extra pleasing to the attention. In reality, when the pill is related to a tv, it virtually seems like a correct console OS — though the controller has a mouse emulator for a purpose. It nonetheless is not good, however it’s come a great distance.

Digital camera

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

Typically, tablets should not be used as your main digital camera for capturing life’s valuable moments: They’re huge, awkward and capturing footage with them makes you look foolish. You should not do it, ever — and also you undoubtedly should not do it with NVIDIA’s Defend pill. Not solely will you look ridiculous, but in addition your footage will end up awful. The Defend’s rear-dealing with 5-megapixel shooter is mediocre at greatest.

The Defend can produce clear, if muted photographs in a nicely-lit inside area, nevertheless it stumbles in darker rooms and the good outdoor. The digital camera merely cannot compromise between shadows and highlights, and blows out photographs within the presence of any vibrant floor. My check photographs are filled with over-brightened flowers that bleed collectively and gentle photographs missing texture depth. The Defend’s rear-dealing with digital camera will in all probability do in a pinch, however likelihood is it is outclassed by your smartphone.

Gallery | sixteen Pictures
NVIDIA Defend digital camera samples

Most tablets skimp on the entrance-dealing with digital camera, choosing a decrease-decision sensor. Not the Defend, although. The pill’s entrance digital camera is the exact same because the rear one. It nonetheless will not land you any award-profitable photographs, however I can recognize the upper-decision selfie cam for the sake of the system’s Twitch integration: If you are going to stream your face to the web, it might as properly be shot with one of the best digital camera obtainable.

Efficiency and battery life

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

Ask NVIDIA about its new Tegra K1 cellular processor and it will beam at you want a proud dad or mum. This can be a cellular GPU boasting 192 Kepler cores and the wherewithal to maintain up with PC gaming requirements: Open GL, DirectX 12 and even help for Unreal Engine four. Kepler is the important thing buzzword right here: Tegra K1 is constructed on the similar structure that powers NVIDIA’s desktop-class GPUs. Mixed with a 2.2GHz quad-core Cortex-A15 processor (with an additional “+1″ core to deal with menial, low-energy duties), the Defend runs on what NVIDIA is claiming to be the “world’s quickest cellular processor.”

NVIDIA Defend Pill Tegra Word 7 Nexus 7 Samsung Galaxy Tab S Quadrant 2.zero 20,556 sixteen,066 6,133 18,597 Vellamo three,055 three,314 1,597 1,672 3DMark IS Limitless 30,970 sixteen,473 10,271 12,431 SunSpider 1.zero (ms) 463 586 602 1,109 GFXBench three.zero Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 31 N/A 5 5.5 CF-Bench forty three,033 34,386 15,366 31,695 SunSpider: Decrease scores are higher.

All advised, the NVIDIA Defend pill is delightfully quick, providing one of many smoothest, most stutter-free experiences I’ve ever had with an Android pill. Switching between apps and menus feels fluid, and even processor-heavy purposes load in mere seconds (not together with additional loading time for top-finish video games, in fact). Most of the time, I discovered myself ready on my community connection to catch as much as the system — slowly watching a standing bar because it downloaded the subsequent concern of the comedian I used to be studying or ready for a server to ship my net web page. For those who’re hooked on numbers, check out the desk above: The Defend made notched marks in each single benchmark.

The Defend stored tempo with common battery life expectations, too: It lasted for 9 hours of close to-fixed use, together with a great deal of comics studying and Netflix streaming. Engadget’s battery rundown check (video looping at a hard and fast brightness) matched my lazy-Sunday check fairly intently; the 5,300mAh battery gave out after virtually eight and a half hours. With lighter utilization, the Defend may also final for a day and a half or extra while not having a recharge. That is about an hour greater than final yr’s Nexus pill, nevertheless it’s hardly greatest in school — the Defend nonetheless falls 4 hours in need of Samsung’s eight-inch Galaxy Tab S.

Pill Battery Life NVIDIA Defend Pill eight:23 Microsoft Floor 2 14:22 (LTE) Apple iPad Air thirteen:forty five (LTE) Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10-inch) 12:30 Samsung Galaxy Tab S (eight-inch) 12:22 Apple iPad mini with Retina show eleven:fifty five (LTE) Amazon Kindle Hearth HDX (7-inch) 10:forty one (WiFi) Nexus 7 (2012) 9:forty nine Kindle Hearth HD (eight.9-inch) 9:01 Sony Xperia Z2 Pill (2012) 7:fifty seven Nexus 7 (2013) 7:15

Gaming

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

For this reason you are actually right here, proper? Sure, the Defend makes an admirable media pill, however that is not why NVIDIA constructed it. This can be a gadget billed because the “final gaming pill,” a slate to take cellular gaming to a brand new degree. That is just about the identical promise NVIDIA gave us with the unique Defend. Does the pill type issue and the corporate’s new Tegra K1 processor make that a lot of a distinction? Sure, and no — it sort of depends upon what your objective is.

Whereas it is true the pill’s Tegra K1 outclasses the Tegra four chip discovered within the hand-held Defend, it is exhausting to inform in most video games. Aside from a couple of NVIDIA-optimized titles, most Android video games merely aren’t designed with excessive-efficiency graphics chips in thoughts. Titles like Sonic The Hedgehog four: Episode II, Grand Theft Auto III or Jet Set Radio aren’t going to look appreciably totally different on both gadget — although all of them run nice. In reality, the one titles the place we might see any notable distinction have been ones designed particularly for NVIDIA Defend units — specifically, Valve’s Android ports of Portal and Half-Life 2.

Valve’s basic shooter and Stockholm Syndrome puzzler made their method to the NVIDIA Defend handheld again in Might, however they have been barely downgraded ports. Each video games suffered occasional lag in tense moments and lacked extra strong lighting results. They’re nonetheless playable on NVIDIA’s unique Defend, however on the pill, they seem to be a bit higher. Textures appear to be a bit extra crisp and dynamic lighting now displays off of in-recreation surfaces. Most significantly, the video games run extra easily and stutter much less typically.

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

Whereas these video games do look higher on the Defend pill, they’re obtainable on the older gadget as nicely. That stated, pill-unique video games are coming. Trine 2, for example, ships with each Defend pill and requires a Tegra K1 processor to run. It seems to be fairly unbelievable too, and options textures and lighting on par with the sport’s console and PC ports. Sadly, it is solely a touch of the facility the K1 has to supply. NVIDIA has proven spectacular demos of the processor (and certainly, the Defend pill itself) that includes beautiful graphics powered by Unreal Engine four, however no prime-tier video games benefit from this energy. Actually, the one UE4 recreation at present out there for the gadget is Tappy Hen, a easy clone recreation created for instance of a scripting system.

Is the NVIDIA Defend pill probably the most highly effective Android gaming system obtainable? In all probability, however proper now that energy is underutilized. It is an issue the unique Defend system confronted too — a weird, however tantalizingly succesful product with valuable few apps that would leverage its energy. Whereas it is true that NVIDIA is regularly pushing to get extra Tegra-optimized video games available on the market, the very fact of the matter is that these titles trickle out at an inconsistent tempo. Luckily, Defend house owners aren’t shackled by the bounds of the Android market.

GameStream and Console Mode

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

Each the NVIDIA Defend pill and hand-held Defend are highly effective, properly-made Android units, however let’s be frank: The aforementioned GameStream know-how is definitely half the rationale players are shopping for these merchandise. We coated the function in our unique Defend evaluate, however it’s value revisiting — it is the gadget’s killer app, and it is higher than ever.

Over the previous yr, NVIDIA has slowly been pushing updates to its present Defend handheld, enhancing its PC-streaming options and constructing a smoother expertise. Naturally, these updates have discovered their solution to the pill, and it exhibits: GameStream is noticeably extra dependable than it was a yr in the past. It has decrease latency and crashes much less typically (hardly in any respect, in reality). It isn’t good, however more often than not enter lag was low sufficient that I do not discover it. On my house community, the expertise was ok that I might virtually maintain my very own in Titanfall over GameStream. That is an enormous enchancment.

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

Streaming PC video games to a pill is OK, however I discovered the expertise to be extra fulfilling on an enormous display. Plugging a micro-HDMI cable into the Defend prompts it to reboot into “console mode,” disabling the pill display and optimizing video output on your tv (there’s additionally a mirror mode, however this leaves Android’s navigation buttons in your TV display). With NVIDIA’s up to date Tegra Hub and the official Defend gamepad, this setup works like a dream. The Tegra Hub serves as a simple-to-navigate, nicely-thought-out console interface, and the controller’s aforementioned touchpad makes it straightforward to type out PC-streaming issues (sudden pop-up home windows and the like) from the sofa. Technically, this expertise was, and nonetheless is, potential with the unique Defend, nevertheless it’s value noting that a yr of updates have considerably improved the expertise. The one disadvantage to console mode? You’ll be able to’t wake it from sleep utilizing the controller. The one choice is to fiddle with that mushy energy button. Blergh.

Gaming over LTE

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

Streaming video games over an area community is admittedly fairly neat, however does it work over LTE? Sure, however getting it up and operating is not all the time straightforward. In case your community setup is operating one in every of NVIDIA’s really helpful routers and matches all the required necessities, GeForce Expertise does a lot of the heavy lifting, opening the required ports and making it straightforward for the pill to stream over LTE. Sadly, my house community is ruled by a cussed service-branded router that refused to open the required ports. Over the course of a few week I spent a number of hours making an attempt to coax my community into enjoying good with the LTE model of NVIDIA’s pill, however I by no means managed to beat the router’s frustratingly restricted configuration menu.

That does not imply GameStream over LTE does not work, in fact, it simply means I want to think about discovering a brand new service supplier. Ultimately I used to be in a position to hook up with a pc behind a much less contentious community, and PC gameplay piped via as anticipated. Beneath preferrred circumstances, the expertise mirrored native streaming — an virtually magical transportation of excessive-finish gaming to a small display — however a variety of issues can foul it up. Restricted bandwidth on the host pc’s finish can wreck the expertise, as can a sub-par connection to AT&T’s LTE community. And sure, that “LTE” icon is completely crucial: trying to stream over a flighty HSPA+ connection ceaselessly resulted in stuttering gameplay with an eventual crash. Be sure to have a robust connection and a correctly configured host PC, nevertheless, and it really works like a dream.

Utilizing GameStream from outdoors of the native community requires you to go away your PC on, too — one thing I am not within the behavior of doing once I’m outdoors my residence for a number of days at a time. I additionally discovered that a crashed recreation was so much more durable to repair once I did not have direct entry to my house machine, and did not stream video games from my very own PC all that always. I did, nevertheless, get substantial milage out of NVIDIA GRID, the corporate’s cloud gaming platform. GRID has been out there as a free beta to Defend house owners for nearly a yr now, however it’s notably helpful on the corporate’s LTE pill — there is no PC arrange, no pesky port-forwarding and no worries that an app-crash may depart my house machine operating a excessive-finish recreation unattended. All I ever wanted was a robust LTE connection and the pill itself. I used it to play Road Fighter four in Disneyland, and it was fairly nice.

The competitors

In case you’re wanting on the Defend pill for top-finish Android gaming and PC streaming, you actually solely have one different choice: the Defend moveable. NVIDIA’s GameStream know-how is proprietary — and though some enterprising people within the Android group have reverse-engineered it, no different Android product available on the market presents a comparable function. It is not a pill, and is not fairly as highly effective, however NVIDIA’s unique Defend may be had for $one hundred lower than our $299 Defend pill evaluation unit (and you will not need to shell out a further $60 for the Defend controller, both).

When you’re simply in search of a strong pill, however, then you definitely’ve acquired decisions. If the Defend’s 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display is not ok for you, check out the $four hundred Samsung Galaxy Tab S eight.four – it has a shiny 2,560 x 1,600 show and a large enough battery to maintain it operating for over 12 hours. Choose iOS? Apple’s iPad mini with Retina show presents an identical runtime and determination for a similar worth. Google hasn’t unveiled its newest Nexus pill but, however final yr’s mannequin is a contender by itself: At $230, it provides all the non-gaming contains a potential Defend purchaser might need at a considerably decreased worth. When you’re on the lookout for extra battery life, nevertheless, check out Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Hearth HDX: it will not value a dime greater than the Nexus 7, however it’ll last more.

Wrap-up

NVIDIA Shield tablet review: a solid slate with a gaming addiction

When Engadget reviewed NVIDIA’s unique Defend handheld, we referred to as it a “really unusual system,” albeit a enjoyable, highly effective and utterly worthwhile one. The Defend pill is every little thing that gadget was, however much less odd. As a pill, it is extra versatile than the hand-held was, making its lack of Tegra-optimized (and unique) video games simpler to forgive. It is nonetheless a strong gaming system, however it’s not an outlier. On the finish of the day, the NVIDIA Defend is a strong, worthwhile eight-inch Android pill in its personal proper, and it simply occurs to have a number of novel options, in addition. Sadly, taking advantage of the system requires an additional $60 controller and an NVIDIA GTX GPU — making the complete Defend expertise an costly proposition.

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<a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/nvidia/defend-pill/”> NVIDIA Defend Pill </a>

  • Key specs
  • <a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/nvidia/defend-pill/” title=”NVIDIA Defend Pill critiques” goal=”_blank”> Evaluations three </a>
  • Costs
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  • Type issue Pill
  • Working system Android
  • Display measurement eight inches
  • Storage sort Inner storage (sixteen GB, Flash), Reminiscence card
  • Digital camera (built-in) 5&#one hundred sixty;megapixels
  • Introduced 2014-07-22

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9.threecommon consumer score
  • Options 10
  • Show eight.7
  • Battery life 6
  • Ease of use 10
  • Storage capability 10
  • Design and type issue 10
  • Portability (measurement / weight) 10
  • Sturdiness 10

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