The Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 offers cool gaming features such as Gamestream, but is also great for surfing and videos. In the review we like the – measured by price – good equipment and the chic additional features. The Android tablet shows weaknesses in battery life.
The hardware basis of the shield tablet is the new Tegra-K1-SoC (System-on-a-Chip), which combines four computing cores with 2.2 GHz clock frequency each and a so-called Companion Core with 1.0 GHz. For graphics output, it also features a Kepler GPU with 192 cores (CUDA cores) clocked to 900 MHz, which also accelerates demanding games with ease. 2 GB of RAM, 16 GByte integrated flash memory, a microSD slot, an HDMI port and the 8-inch 16:10 display (1,920 x 1,200 pixels) complete the most important features. As an operating system, Nvidia is running a version of Android 6.0, which is enhanced with specific applications such as the Gamestream function or a special app marketplace for games.
Nvidia Shield Tablet K1: More than just a tablet PC
At the time of the test, the Shield tablet, which costs around 200 euros, was ranked 25th in our top tablet PC list and prevailed over many significantly more expensive models. For reasons of comparability with other tablet PCs, the exciting but Nvidia-specific gaming features are only partially included in the evaluation.
The 8-inch mirroring IPS panel shows only one great weakness in the test: while the high resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels (pixel density: 283 ppi), which enables lossless playback of Full HD videos and the brightness of a maximum of 371 candela per m² upper average, the chessboard contrast of 112:1 is only mediocre.
Besides the high performance hardware Shield offers some additional features. A striking feature is the active stylus (optional), which Nvidia calls DirectStylus 2. In the practical test, the stylus proves to be flexible and can be used very well in corresponding applications. For this purpose, the manufacturer installs an in-house drawing and painting app called Dabbler, which also demonstrates the pen’s pressure sensitivity nicely. However, these features also offer other tablet manufacturers out-of-the-box. The two loudspeakers to the left and right of the display deserve special praise. They provide surprisingly good sound for movies and games. Our test kit also includes a wireless game controller and a magnetic cover to protect the display. However, both are also optional and are not included in the standard scope of delivery.
Only average mobility
Satisfactory mobility also denies a top position in the best-performing list. This is partly due to the relatively high weight of 360 grams. The thickness of one centimeter does not match the leading group around the iPad mini and the Sony Xperia Tablet Z2 (each 0.7 cm). Since the battery life of 5:53 hours (video) and 6:32 hours (office) does not inspire, the device only scores 71.8 out of a possible 100 points in this category.
The tablet for gamers
Tablet PCs for players are not new. However, devices like the Archos Gamepad 2 or the Snakebyte Vyper 7 couldn’t convince at all. Quite different with the Nvidia Shield, to which we pronounce the predicate “first seriously recommendable gamer tablet”. The reason for this is not the Android environment itself. Although it offers some nice games like the chic tablet version of Skylanders Trap Team, it doesn’t match classic PC gaming. The real highlight of the tablet is called Gamestream. With this feature, players will have a wide range of expansion options at their fingertips. You can stream your PC games directly onto the tablets and play them at home within the WLAN. You can also clone and play the signal on a TV set. This requires an HDMI connection between the tablet and the TV.
Shield relies on the performance of a PC or laptop equipped with a GeForce GTX graphics card. A GTX 650 is the minimum on the computer, while a model of the GeForce-700M, 800M or 900M series should be installed on the notebook. It also supports a few models from the older GeForce-600M series.
In the field test we liked Gamestream very much. The PC-to-tablet module works perfectly in the WLAN, is largely free of layers and is very easy to set up. Thanks to the optional controller and the support of Bluetooth versions of mouse and keyboard, a good alternative to the touch screen is available. Cloning to a Philips TV has also worked fine.