In preparation for the Shield launch NVIDIA sent a bunch of Shield units out to some analysts for feedback and I’ve been having a ton of fun with mine. This is one mean gaming-machine, but it is actually some of the other stuff it does that has me a bit more intrigued, for instance it is a damn good drone controller. Let me explain.
This is NVIIDA’s attempt to redefine the gaming space which has been languishing of late, whether we are talking console game systems or portable game systems, the energy just doesn’t seem to be there for the traditional approach anymore. This is likely a result of the rise of tablets (mostly iPads) and smartphones as gaming systems. But these systems aren’t optimized for gaming, so NVIDIA felt they had a better idea and built what is basically a tablet and game controller hybrid. It plays Android games, it has the most powerful Tegra platform, and it does all of the other tablet stuff too. If you’ve ever struggled with a screen controller when playing a game on your tablet or phone you’ll immediately get why this is a better approach as you now have physical controls, making everything more precise and less frustrating.
Movies and Music
Like you would see in a gaming laptop this system has, compared to your average tablet or Smartphone, a massive audio system. Granted massive for something you hold in your hand is kind of like talking about “jumbo Shrimp”, the device is still small but it produces amazingly big sound. Now, it won’t compete with your home stereo or even a big boom box, but for a little device this has a ton of sound. I watched Wizard of Oz on the device and it was kind of amazing how well the sound filled the space I was in, yet I doubt it would be that annoying for anyone in another room. Granted if you were doing this in an office or restaurant someone would probably wonder over and pound on your head, but for something portable you could use to enjoy a movie or music this device provides an amazingly immersive experience without the need for headphones.
AR Drone Pilot
However, the most amazing use for this device is as controller for an AR Drone. The AR Drone is an affordable personal Drone with a high resolution camera, and it is currently on its second version. This Drone typically uses an iOS or Android device as the controller and much like it is with games, the soft screen controls can be somewhat annoying. Now you can fly the drone by looking at it, which is fine when it is in sight, but you can also fly it through the onboard camera.
What makes the AR Drone very different than remote controlled helicopters with cameras is that it has sensors that allow it to hover in place and auto land and take off. Trust me, learning how to do this with a remote controlled helicopter tends to be expensive as you’ll likely go through several of them learning and at a couple hundred each – slow learners can find the experience really expensive. Most folks can just grab the AR Drone and fly.
But with the Shield device the AR Drone becomes something very different. You can more easily fly it like you would a remote controlled copter and have the fun of swooping down at things without the expense of the crash. Playing with the two things is a ton of fun, though I wonder if my neighbors are all that happy I’m flying a drone with an HD camera up and down my street. A friend of mine uses his to herd chickens. I’m guessing it is an easy way to get pre-scrambled fresh eggs.
Wrapping Up: Game Changer
The NVIDIA Shield device is a real game changer, it really makes Android games, particularly those designed for the device, shine, it is great for movies and music, and it can turn you into an amazing (if amazing means you don’t crash a lot) drone pilot almost immediately. It’ll be a few weeks before you can buy one, but until then if you see a guy being chased by his neighbors flying a drone, it is likely me. Yes NVIDIA Shield made me a Drone Pilot!
President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
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