To start, as of this writing Shield comes running Android 4.2.1, which isn’t the absolute bleeding edge version of Android, but just behind. The upside is that NVIDIA promises frequent updates for Shield through the normal update mechanism. The bootloader is also supposedly unlockable, although I haven’t tried. The best part is that the UI is entirely stock, with just a few Shield-specific addons here and there. The stock part is especially important to enthusiasts, for whom this is always a major point of contention. I sort of err between the two, but stock Android here does work well.

The only real issue with Android as a platform on Shield is with landscape. Since the original Motorola Droid, landscape has been an increasingly marginalized view. Unless you’re in media playback or web browsing mode, it seems like most applications expect the user to be in portrait.


Chrome has this initial status screen, and Netflix has portrait views

Obviously since Shield is held the way it is, there’s no way to easily interact with portrait mode applications in landscape, they’re just 90 degrees rotated. I’ve yet to run into anything game-stopping, it ends up being mostly initial views or setup pages that are rotated. On Shield, NVIDIA has customized things so that these portrait-only applications can be installed, they just show up rotated and full screen (no status bar). Also NVIDIA has used the Y button as a menu button inside the Android UI.

Navigation inside Android uses either the controller or touch screen. The left analog stick and D-Pad work like arrow keys, the right analog stick works like a virtual mouse, and A button works like tap. I have no issue navigating the Android UI this way, it works fine basically everywhere, and you can always use one hand to tap on the display. NVIDIA has also customized the stock browser controls to play well with Shield, left analog stick scrolls up and down nicely.

Settings has a Controller tab for example with Shield specific options

The other touches are nice too, for example the bumpers scroll through the launcher pages or home screen widget panes, just like you’d expect from using a 360. The controls inside Android are logical and totally make sense.

At the center of Shield is basically NVIDIA’s console button, which is a big glowing logo. This works like the power button if held down, otherwise it launches the onboard Shield game, store, and PC game streaming component. The leftmost tab is essentially a launcher where you can see games that you’ve got currently installed, middle tab is a list of Shield optimized titles that NVIDIA has vetted (and play store link), and the right most tab is the PC streaming component we’ll get to in a moment.

Introduction and Hardware Gaming on Shield - Android, PC, AR Drone 2.0


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  • This Guy - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    My tablet is 1.3 kg and I have no problem using it like a book. At first I lent it against my leg, desk and bed until I got used to the weight. If 500 grams is to heavy for you try resting your elbows on an arm rest while your playing.

    The device is very elegant. Nvidia is providing gaming with VNC. Try using an openGL game on a wired network with RDC. It sucks and it uses PC hardware. This is an 500 gram handheld android device that lasts for 10 hours.

    Please don't be "That Guy." There are links to Dailytech in the side bar if you must use that tone.
  • RYF - Sunday, August 4, 2013 - link

    Ergonomics play a big part is determining if an item can be held for a long time. It is about the weight distributions. E.g. holding a stick of 0.5KG as compared to holding a spherical item of 0.5KG give totally different feeling.

    Your irresponsible choice of words like "junk", "bias", "ugly" simply shows your prejudice.
  • Peanutsrevenge - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    You clearly don't handle objects of differing weights, sizes and shapes very often.
    A 30Kg object can feel lighter than a 15Kg object if it's easy to hold, well balanced and controllable shape if the 15Kg one is awkward.

    I remember when Anandtech had almost exclusively readers with an IQ >90.
  • jeffkibuule - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    I miss those days. Guess when you become popular, common sense comments go out the window. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    Haters gonna hate. Never heard of weight distribution? Reply
  • Refuge - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    I don't see how that could have been considered a rant.

    Troll perhaps?
  • superflex - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    Maybe you should put down the Xbox controller and pickup a dumbell or barbell once in a while.
    Or would that hurt you quest to become the ultimate dungeon master?
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, August 1, 2013 - link

    What is unbelievable is how clueless and stupid some people can be. You have no idea what Brian and Anandtech are about, you are blatantly rude, and are so ignorant about weight and balance I'm surprised you can actually type. And if Anandtech feels that this response to your post goes overboard I'm sorry, but it is no more offensive than someone calling Brian dishonest in any way, and I don't believe in letting bad behavior go unchecked.

    I used to swing a 1-lb hammer all day long, and there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions over the years, of construction workers who did the same. That's one pound at the end of a stick, swinging it with one hand, not holding it in 2 hands relatively close to your body. Since you are so ignorant let me point out that 1 lb is 454 grams, and that measurement is for the head of the hammer, not the whole hammer. There ar many workers in many fields who deal with a lor more weight than that, 8 or more hours a day, 5 or more days a week.

    Oh, and by the way, a regular wireless Xbox 360 controller weighs 265 grams. So, what you are talking abut here is a little over 1/5 a kilo more weight.

    I'm sorry that the heaviest thing you lift in your life is a Big Mac and you have no muscle tone. I'm sorry that your Mommy was mean to you all your life and so now you have a bad attitude about everything. Here's a clue though - regardless, you are responsible for your behavior in public, responsible for your physical condition, and responsible for your beliefs. Consider this a wake-up call. Get a clue before you post next time.

    Seriously, a good counselor can help a lot, I highly suggest you find one ASAP.
  • gi_ty - Friday, August 2, 2013 - link

    Excellent, well said sir! Reply
  • twotwotwo - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    People hold 7-inch tabs that are 400-500g with one hand and a funny grip. So a little over a half-kilo with two hands and real grips seems doable. Reply

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