In an apparent effort to attract hardcore PC gamers, Nvidia is releasing a gaming-focused tablet that works with a new controller. The Android-powered Shield Tablet, which can also stream games from a PC, uses Nvidia's Tegra K1 SoC (system-on-chip) processor and is the company's first handheld device to be offered for sale outside the United States.
The new Shield Tablet follows up on the Shield Portable gaming handheld that Nvidia released last year. The new model combines an Android tablet with a console game controller (sold separately) that also supports high-fidelity audio headsets and is compatible with both the Shield Tablet and Shield Portable.
The Shield Tablet will come in 16 GB and 32 GB versions with optional LTE support. Suggested retail prices will range from $299 to $399.
Controller Goes Wi-Fi
The Shield Wireless Controller, a Wi-Fi-based gamepad designed for use with the Shield Tablet, mimics the Shield Portable's controls. It includes a headphone jack and built-in microphone that can be used with games, voice chat, media playback, and Google voice commands.
The controller will retail for $59 -- less than rival premium smart device controllers. The controller uses a Wi-Fi connection instead of Bluetooth, Nvidia said, to minimize latency times.
The Tegra K1 processor used in the Shield Tablet features a 192-core graphics processing unit that lets it run graphics-intensive Android titles natively. Users can also supplement their gaming power with a PC graphics card if it's a compatible Nvidia model.
Faster than Last Year's
The new tablet uses a more conventional form factor than the original Shield. Nvidia said the Tegra K1 mobile chipset, its newest, is much faster than the Tegra 4 in the Shield Portable. It has an 8-inch display, built-in stylus, dual speakers and support for 4K video.
The tablet uses Nvidia's TegraZone interface, now called Shield Hub, and can play both Android titles and games that are streamed from a PC via GameStream or Nvidia's Grid cloud gaming service beta.
Also included is an HDMI output and the Console Mode feature previously included with the Shield Portable that offers an HDTV-friendly interface and outputs video in 1080p picture quality.
Can Record Gaming Sessions
The Shield Tablet has some other frills that Nvidia hopes will tickle gamers. It supports Twitch video streaming and Nvidia ShadowPlay game capture technology, meaning gamers can use the tablet to record their gaming sessions, or even drop in face-cam footage using a front-facing 5-megapixel camera.
The tablet's stylus fits inside the tablet and uses Nvidia's DirectStylus 2 technology, which incorporates GPU acceleration into an included painting app. The bundled Dabbler app lets users paint with digital watercolors and oils with simulated gravity and reflection effects.
The Nvidia Shield Tablet and Shield Wireless Controller are available for pre-order from online retailers. Both are due to ship July 29.