NVIDIA Launches a Supertablet

By Rob Enderle July 22, 2014

NVIDIA Launches a Supertablet

Most tablets are based on trying to get you the minimum performance required to hit a particular price point and the market is awash with cheap tablets that don’t appear to be selling that well.  At the top of the pile are the iPad and the Samsung that looks the most like an iPad.  On the side are the Microsoft Surface tablets that focus on productivity, Kindle that targets readers and shoppers, and the Panasonic Toughpad which focuses on being nearly invulnerable. These are well differentiated products targeting folks that have a particular need that separate them from the pack real and fake iPad users.  NVIDIA is choosing a different vector with their Shield Tablet; instead of focusing on productivity, invulnerability, reading, or shopping they are focusing on gaming, and their new Shield Tablet is an impressing piece of hardware.  

Why Gaming?

Tablets tend to be time killers, well with the exception of Surface and the Toughpad which are more intended for work, this means we use them to entertain ourselves while waiting to do something else.  Kind of a as distraction so we don’t ponder why the doctor is so slow getting to us, the plane doesn’t fly at hypersonic speed and the food and chair sucks, or that long vacation drive isn’t remembered as that thing we did between bathroom stops.  

Reading, gaming, and a good video show are the best distractions at a time like this and while reading and video watching can be done on any tablet, good games tend to push technology and the better the game (the more engaging) the faster time seems to fly.  I both read and game, and find that I remain aware of time passing while reading most books and watching most movies but, with a good game, I’ll dig in and, at least with plane flights, I find we’ve landed in what seems like moments rather than hours.  

NVIDIA’s strength is in gaming and their K1 technology, which the Shield Tablet is based on, came from a massive effort to bring mobile platforms in line with PC platforms because folks were increasingly using mobile technology for playing games.  


I started off with the term Supertablet and these are tablets that seek to go beyond the iPad standard, not just be cheaper than it.   So in a way the Surface and Toughpad offerings are both Supertablets because both step away from the core that Apple created, they’ll both do what an iPad can do (granted with a different application set) but they are for people that want more than an iPad provides.    The Shield Tablet goes after this same opportunity, the idea that people want more than what the iPad provides thus it is a super set of the iPad.   This isn’t to disparage the iPad at all, it still sets the bar but we are all not created as clones of each other.   We have different tastes, wear different clothes, drive different cars, have different homes, and unless we are in the military or private school we often look distinctly different from each other.   So why would we all want the same tablet?   Apple has done a stunning job building something that appeals to the vast majority of us but for those of us that think different, and aren’t just cheap, a product like the NVIDIA Shield, Microsoft Surface, or Panasonic ToughPad would be the superior choice.   For those of us that want more, a Supertablet may be the ticket. 

Shield Tablet vs. Shield

Now the Shield Tablet extends NVIDIA’s Shield line and it has a game controller that can be paired with the device.   Shield has the game controller and the tablet tied together.   The Shield is for those that really just want to game, yes it could be used as a reader or to watch videos but it’s happiest and best just for games and for people that don’t want to juggle several things.   The Shield Tablet is for folks that really want the tablet functions but also want to game. 

Wrapping Up:  Apple Problem

There are two sides to Apple, on one hand they do focus us on quality, both of the experience and of the hardware, and set a bar that impressively high.  On the other side, at least under Steve Jobs they tended to focus their competitors on their products not on customers so we ended up with a lot of iPad clones that were cheap junk.  As Apple weakens the market is now looking for other ways to differentiate focusing on making us more productive, creating products that the military and field workers can use in the weather, and most recently creating products we can use to wipe out the next wave of digital crooks, enemy soldiers, or aliens if we so choose.   I think variety is better for all of us likely because I went to private school for a short time and hated the uniforms.  I’ve never wanted to be a clone so applaud every effort to create a supertablet.  Now excuse me while I put on my Shield T-Shirt and go kick some Alien butt!

Edited by Adam Brandt

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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