GPU-maker Nvidia has taken the wraps off its Shield Tablet, an 8-inch, 32-bit Tegra K1-powered tablet launching in the US on July 29, starting at $299 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model. A UK and European launch will follow in August, with the tablet priced at £229. All regions will receive a free copy of Trine 2 at purchase. Nvidia is also launching a separate controller for the tablet, which will retail at $59, and a cover with kickstand for $39. No discounted bundles will be available at launch.
The Shield Tablet features 2GB of RAM, a 1920x1200 pixel display, a MicroSD slot for up to 128GB of storage expansion, a 5MP front-facing camera as well as a 5MP autofocus rear camera, a stylus based on Nvidia's DirectStylus 2 technology, front-facing stereo speakers, 10 hours of battery life for video playback and 3-5 hours for gaming, and a construction that company claims dissipates twice as much heat as its rivals during extended gaming sessions. A version of the tablet with LTE and 32GB of memory will be available for $399.
On the software side, the Shield Tablet will ship with a largely stock version of Android 4.4.3, with just a few gaming tweaks. Twitch is integrated into the device system wide, allowing players to stream almost any app, game, or part of Android interface. The front-facing camera can be used for picture-in-picture, with audio coming from the integrated microphone or an external headset. When plugged into a TV, the tablet automatically switches into "Console Mode," which brings up a controller-optimised 1080p interface for launching and purchasing apps and games.
Other apps include 1080p Netflix streaming, Hulu Plus, Shadowplay for capturing gameplay footage, and Gamestream for streaming PC games directly to the tablet. 11 Tegra-K1 optimised games will be available at launch, including The Talos Principle, Half Life 2, and free-to-play shooter War Thunder, complete with cross-platform online play.
The separate wireless controller features the standard collection of buttons, triggers, and analogue sticks, as well as Android-specific home and back buttons. There's also a touch pad at the bottom for controlling mouse actions for games streamed from a PC via Gamestream, and buttons for adjusting the volume of the headset jack. In addition, the controller features an integrated microphone for controlling Google Now in Android, as well as voice chat in games.
Interestingly, the controller doesn't communicate over Bluetooth, but instead communicates via a proprietary WiFi standard, which Nvidia claims results in 2X less latency, and allows for up to four controllers to be paired with the tablet. The company is working with Google to integrate the specialised drivers into Android so other devices can make use of the controller, but has not confirmed a date for launch. Support for the controller is coming to the exisiting Shield Portable via a software update, though.
Also notable is that the Shield Tablet comes equipped with Nvidia's 32-bit Tegra K1 system on a chip, and not the flagship 64-bit version. However, the quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU and Kepler architecture graphics of the 32-bit Tegra K1 were used to great effect as this year's Google IO, with the chip being used to run an impressive Unreal Engine 4 demo in real time
GameSpot was at the unveiling of the Shield Tablet, so be sure to check out its initial impressions.See more coverage of Gametech