NVIDIA's Shield Tablet: Possibly the Best Deal in Small Tablets

By Rob Enderle December 02, 2014

Last week I spoke about buying a tablet and pointed out that the Amazon Kindle at under $200 is likely the most bang for the buck. So how can the NVIDIA Shield tablet be better? Well if you are into games it comes with a free subscription to NVIDIA’s new Shield gaming service where you can play any game on the service off the Web for free. They add two new games a week (and don’t seem to take any away), and are up to 21 games.  Even at a discounted price of $20 a game that’d be $420 in games alone making the tablet arguably less than free. Now you have to want to play the games to make this work, if you are just going to browse the Web, do email, and read then there are plenty of tablets a lot cheaper that would be fine but, if you want a PC gaming experience in a tablet, right now the Shield Tablet is as close as it gets.

The Games

Right now the games are Strike Suite Zero, Saints Row the Third (I’m kind of hooked on this really weird game), Alan Wake American Nightmare, Astebreed, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Borderlands, Borderlands 2, Brutal Legend, Darksiders 2, Dead Island, Dirt 2, LEGO Batman 2, LEGO Marvel Superheroes, Psychonauts, Race Driver Grid, Red Faction Armageddon, Street Fighter X Tekken, The Withcer2:  Assassins of Kings, Trine 2, and Ultra Street Fighter IV.  See you kind of get the tablet for free and figure with one or two extra games a week you effectively get a game annuity. You can find an updated list of games here. This week we got Batman:  Arkham Origins and Lego Batman: The Video Game bringing the total to 23 by the end of the month we should be close to 30 games total.  

Shield Pricing and Accessories

Right now, the NVIDIA Shield Tablet without 4G LTE is $299 and with 4G LTE and a contract is $299 or 4G without a contract is $399. The cover will set you back around $40 and the controller another $60 or $100 for both. This seems rather pricey, but factor in that for this you basically get a really good tablet with better stylus capability than almost anything else in the market (so you can doodle really accurately).

I picked up one of these for our home contractor as a thank you and birthday gift and he seemed really pleased because it does a number of things better than his iPad. Ironically, given the iPad is basically a massive iPod Touch, one of those things is music because it has two large (for a tablet) forward firing stereo speakers.  

It currently runs Android Lollipop, which is still pretty hard to find on anything other than Google’s Nexus line at the moment. Lollipop is considered to be Google’s strongest release to date. This time they really focused on UI design and the platform moves sharply away from what felt like a poor imitation of iOS into something far more solid and appealing. Lollipop’s improvement includes easier access to settings, better performance and simply a vast improvement over what they’d had in market before. 

Wrapping Up:  If You Want to Stand Out

Sure you can save money and get a tablet for under $200 but if this if for your kid you’ll end up spending a ton of money on things to put on the thing and you’ll likely still be buying games for his PC or console. With the Shield Tablet they may find that the bundled games are good enough and one or two new games a week are better way than asking Dad for an extra $20 to $50 for a new game (which can add up). If you are in that boat then consider the NVIDIA Shield Tablet as a cheaper alternative and a product that will stand out in a field of iPads and cheap alternatives on Christmas Day.   

Edited by Maurice Nagle

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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