The Announcement

Not too long ago Nvidia announced that they were entering the handheld console space, but not in the way most might expect. In a sub-section of the gaming industry based around the Nintendo 3DS, the Playstation Vita, and an array of mobile tablets most people thought Nvidia was a bit crazy to even consider entering the market, much less enter it with what they then unveiled.

Nvidia showed off the “Shield” which was later confirmed to be a full Android-based hand held gaming system. In not directly competing with Nintendo and Sony Nvidia believed that it could bypass that section of the market and dominate the section held by mobile games by being able to run bigger and more “full” console experience games. The problem was, not many people needed that nor wanted it from an Android device.

The System

The Nvidia Shield is powered by a nice Tegra 4 processor and boasts a 5″ 720p touchscreen for the display. The hardware comes at a cost, however. The Shield debuted at $299 USD. In a market that consists of $0.99 smart phone games $299 is a lot to pay for any device much less one that’s primary use is gaming, and has no phone capabilities. The hardware design and layout may be amazing for reading those Starcraft 2 strategies but that’s about it. It looks like a version of the old Xbox controller with a screen attached.

Nvidia shield
Nvidia Shield…yay or nay?

The thumb sticks are side-by-side with the d-pad and face buttons mirroring each other in the top right and left segment of the device. Overall it doesn’t look all that terrible, but it doesn’t seem to be all that comfortable to hold for long gaming sessions either. In a handheld market where devices like the iPad boast a huge 10+” touchscreen with 1080p+ resolutions Nvidia’s offering just isn’t quite what consumers are looking for to take on the road with them.

The Public Opinion

After Nvidia announced the new handheld system there was an immediate reaction of “why?” from analysts, journalists, and consumers alike. The device seemed like it could offer a bit of fun, but in a package that was very costly with hardware that was already being topped by tablet manufacturers.

This sentiment followed through launch in late July and has shown in the sales since. The two most exciting features of the system are the hardware internals and the streaming capabilities, but these are just not enough to sway fans to take more than a quick glance at the Shield.

Wrap

The Nvidia Shield is a solid little device that may just have come out at the wrong time. If the unit were to have debuted in that strange time before smart phones took over the handheld market it may have seen major success, but in today’s internet age where people are carrying 5+” 1080p screens in their pockets already, why would they want to carry another bulkier device just to have a better processor and dedicated controller?