We didn't expect this year's newest gaming console to take the form of an 8-inch tablet, but the Nvidia Shield Tablet is here and it's surprisingly versatile. The follow up to last year's Shield Portable, this $300 slate packs a beefy Tegra K1 processor, integrated Twitch streaming and has the ability to play and stream a massive library of both Android and PC games. Now that this portable gaming powerhouse is officially on the market, here's what the critics have to say.
On our sister site Laptop Mag, our own Sherri Smith gave the Shield Tablet four out of five stars. Smith praised the tablet's elegant design and top-notch performance, while criticizing the device's steep price tag and somewhat bulky controller.
"It was love at first touch. The Shield Tablet's rear panel is swathed in a black, luxurious soft touch finish that's as nice to look at as it is to caress."
"Running and gunning aliens in N.O.V.A 3 was smooth as silk. But I was really impressed when I started streaming Half-Life 2. There was nary a jaggie or stutter in sight as I swung my trusty wrench."
"Someone at Nvidia took the phrase, 'go big or go home' a little too seriously. The $60 Shield Wireless Controller is absolutely massive."
Gizmodo's Eric Limer gave the Shield Tablet a glowing recommendation, stressing that the high-performance slate has lots to offer for both serious gamers and everyday users.
"As an Android gaming device, the Shield tablet is the best thing out there full stop. Between the K1 processor, the standard tablet form factor, and the particularly good controller support, it beats the pants off the Ouya, the Fire TV, and the original Shield clamshell in functionality and horsepower no matter how you game. "
"Battery life is not great. 3-ish hours of K1 gaming isn't bad, but six and a half hours of video is weak."
"The Shield tab gets obnoxiously hot when you put it to work. "
GameSpot's Mark Walton had mixed feelings on the Shield Tablet. The reviewer praised the slate's beefy specs, but lamented the controller and had an inconsistent experience with the tablet's much-touted Twitch streaming feature.
"With the Tegra K1 chip on board, the Shield Tablet flies through Android. Apps load quickly, scrolling is buttery smooth, and video streaming with the likes of Netflix is stutter-free."
On Twitch streaming: "Most notable was the performance hit, which caused the frame rate to drop dramatically in both games. Things got worse in Half Life 2, where the game actually crashed consistently at a certain point while streaming, and only by reloading the game, playing past that point, and then reactivating Twitch could we get past it."
Chris Burns of SlashGear gave a highly positive review of the Shield Tablet, commending its Tegra K1 performance, stylus functionality and PC game streaming feature.
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"Android gaming has never looked better than it does here with the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet running on Tegra K1."
"Streaming a PC game to NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet is seamless - ready for prime-time and easy enough to accomplish that anyone can do it."
"Sometimes streaming from NVIDIA GRID [the company's cloud service] looks excellent, sometimes it looks less-than-perfect."
Android Central's Andrew Martonik seems mostly sold on the Shield Tablet, complimenting the slate's rich speakers and nifty Twitch streaming capabilities. However, he found the tablet to be bulkier than competitors and felt that it might be a bit too expensive for some.
"Front-facing stereo speakers just make sense on a media-focused tablet such as this, and the pair included in the Shield Tablet sound fantastic."
"...if you have the right conditions it's quite amazing to be able to livestream your gameplay, a video from your front-facing camera and your commentary through your microphone, all at once from a tablet with no additional hardware."
"At a hefty 390g (0.86lb), this 8-inch tablet is rather dense, and it's heavier than all of its competitors by a good margin — the Nexus 7 (2013) is just 290g, while the 8.4-inch Galaxy Tab S weighs 294g."
"Unfortunately, the Shield Tablet may prove to be a tad too much of an investment for some potential buyers. While it's great on its own, the Shield Tablet really only shines as a complete package when you add the $39 Shield Tablet Cover and $59 Wireless Controller."
Mike Andronico is an Associate Editor at Tom's Guide. When he's not writing about games, PCs and iOS, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter. Follow Mike @MikeAndronico and onGoogle+. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+