A dedicated gaming tablet doesn't sound appealing at allEvan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Eventually, mobile gaming is going to be very similar to home console or PC gaming. Maybe even exactly like it. We've already got physical controllers that we can attach to our devices, and connecting a remote unit to a tablet is ridiculously easy as well. We're no longer left to deal with those pesky on-screen buttons, which can sometimes ruin the experience rather than make it worthwhile.
That eventuality, where mobile games look like PC games (despite the fact there's a lot of marketing out there for "PC level graphics!" for some mobile games, they're really not there yet), is a strange destination considering many believe mobile gaming something barely above a hobby. Playing a game like Jetpack Joyride is very different than playing something like Destiny, so the lack of a real comparison there is probably justified.
However, that is where it's going. We've been seeing a huge focus on gaming for our mobile devices over the last few years. It may have been started with Apple, after the company realized how many high-level developers were bringing first-rate titles to their mobile OS, but Google and even Microsoft were quick to jump on the train. Gaming is getting better, and the companies behind our favorite mobile operating systems are making it easier than ever to make those games, and make them look amazing.
Some people want to play their PC games while on the go, though, and not just some mobile experience. Luckily, that experience is possible.
Last year, NVIDIA launched their SHIELD handheld, a mobile gaming console that featured a controller and display built into one package. While that was enough of a selling point for many all on its own, it was also able to stream your favorite PC games right to it, as long as you met a few hardware requirements on your gaming PC at home, and found yourself on the same WiFi signal. Eventually that WiFi requirement would fall away, and people could enjoy their favorite PC games from the SHIELD from any WiFi location (as long as it's fast enough to carry the load, of course).
This type of gaming has a market to speak to, to win over, and companies like NVIDIA, and even Sony, can see the potential there. That's why a lot of people had their eyes on NVIDIA this year to see how they'd change the SHIELD 2 in what was pretty obviously going to turn into a yearly refresh situation. Unfortunately, apparently it wasn't all that obvious to NVIDIA.
Instead of launching a SHIELD 2 this year (it seems; it's still perfectly possible they launch it later this year), the company is opting to go with a tablet -- a striking difference over what they launched in 2013. The tablet inherently means you need accessories to make it worth using, like a stand to keep it propped up so you can look at the display, and a controller so you don't have to use on-screen buttons. And since the device will play those PC games in the same way that the SHIELD did, the SHIELD Tablet needs a physical controller.
There's a glaring issue right out of the gate, and my fellow editor posed the question a few days ago: the price. For a the NVIDIA Shield Tablet, you'll be paying upwards of $500 to get your hands on the 32GB Shield Tablet, stand and controller. That's pretty insane, especially for a "dedicated" gaming tablet. (I've already heard more than a few people suggest you pick up a Surface Pro 3, and get plenty of other features right out of the box, like a full operating system, even for the higher price tag.)
For me, it's a far more basic reason why I'd never consider picking up the Shield Tablet: I just don't want a dedicated gaming tablet. The original SHIELD was great because it was a physical controller and a display all-in-one, which made hauling it around not too ridiculous. Plus, while NVIdIA originally priced it at $350, they dropped the price to $299 ahead of its launch and that wasn't all that bad for what it was offering. The price tag for the tablet and accessories, when put together, immediately make sit a nonstarter for me. I don't want to haul around an Android-based tablet, controller and stand in my bag.
That doesn't sound fun at all.
But, how about you? Do you think you're going to pick up the Shield Tablet when it launches this year? Or is this one device you'll be skipping? Let me know!