Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
Nvidia’s Shield TV device has long been considered the best Android TV streaming device, and it’s not hard to see why. They pack a lot of power and a ton of handy software features, and Nvidia’s years-long promise of updates easily beats any Android phone on the market.
However, this isn’t Nvidia’s first Shield product. Longtime Android fans will remember the Nvidia Shield tablet as the company’s first Shield device. With a Tegra K1 processor, 1,920 x 1,200 display, stylus, and four-speaker setup, Nvidia’s first and only tablet is about as big as it was when it launched in 2014.
It’s been eight years since I first tried it, but 2022 could be the best time for a Shield tablet.
Most of the game works are here
When it comes to gaming, the tablet landscape today differs from 2014 in two major ways. On the one hand, game streaming has become an alternative to local games. Back in 2014, Sony’s Remote Play and third-party PC apps were one of the only ways to stream games on your phone over a wireless connection.
Nvidia also offers its own long-running cloud gaming service called Geforce Now. The platform allows you to remotely stream your own library of games through Nvidia’s own powerful servers. On top of that, Geforce Now supports multiple game storefronts such as Steam, Epic Game Store, and Ubisoft Connect. No matter what service you choose, today’s tablets give you a great portable gaming experience.
Android has games, streaming services, and controller support.
Controller support is another area where significant progress has been made since the early days of Android. Google’s platform has supported controllers since Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich, but in-game support is another story.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of controller-compatible games on the Play Store these days, with big hits like Alien: Isolation, Apex Legends Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile, Dead Cells, GRID Autosport, and Stardew Valley. It doesn’t hurt that newer controllers like the Nintendo Switch remote and PS5 DualSense are also compatible with the platform.
Gaming phones today also offer fairly robust remapping software, allowing you to use the device’s shoulder buttons in games that didn’t actually support gamepads in the first place. So of course we have a more friendly environment for the controller.
The world (and Google) cares about tablets again
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
Another reason for Nvidia to jump on the slate bandwagon is that Android tablets have seen a resurgence over the past few years, thanks in large part to the pandemic. The device category shrank in the late 2010s, and the global market fell 1.5% year over year in 2019 to 144 million units the year before the pandemic. That decline doesn’t sound too bad, but IDC reported that 229.6 million tablet PCs were shipped in 2014.
By comparison, global tablet shipments will reach 163.5 million units in 2020 and 168.5 million units in 2021. That momentum may slow after a year-over-year decline in the fourth quarter of 2021, but it’s still hot enough for Nvidia to launch its own Shield tablet. After all, media consumption, one of the strengths of Nvidia’s Shield lineup, was one of several key factors driving this recovery in the first place.
The tablet market is seeing record growth, and Google is (finally) polishing the software side.
The renewed interest in tablets also coincides with Google’s own revival efforts. The platform holder released Android 12L in October 2021, targeting tablets, foldables, and other Android devices with large screens, all of which will be included in Android 13. It also confirmed at its I/O 2022 developer conference that 20 tablet-centric first-party apps will be updated. Better late than never, I guess, but we hope Google keeps the momentum going.
read more: Google is on the right track with watches and tablets, but there’s more to do
So, with the tablet market booming and Google investing in software, this lays a solid foundation for future tablet releases.
Nvidia Tablet Secrets
Nvidia also has some in-house advantages that make it a perfect match for future tablets. On the one hand, the Shield TV device also supports AI upscaling of video, upscaling the resolution of video to 4K so that you can get a more detailed picture. Similar video super-resolution technology is also available for smartphones like OnePlus and Xiaomi (though usually for lower output resolutions), so we’d like to see this technology on the new Nvidia tablet.
Another interesting Nvidia technology to implement on future tablets is DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling). The technology, available on PCs with Nvidia RTX graphics cards, uses a dedicated machine learning chip to upscale video game resolutions.
The advantage of DLSS compared to running locally at the target resolution is that it provides a sharper image without requiring a lot of power. The technology is already being used on future Nintendo Switch models, and it appears to be a great way to deliver improved visuals on a tablet without drastically degrading performance and battery life.
If Nvidia chooses to bring a new tablet to market, its cap has another advantage. Both Shield tablets and Shield TV devices have access to a small library of Shield proprietary games ported from consoles and PCs. Those games include Borderlands 2, Half-Life 2, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Resident Evil 5 and Tomb Raider.
Shield Tablet Reboot Challenges
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
In 2022, perhaps the biggest hurdle for the Shield tablet to overcome is the chipset. Nvidia has used the Tegra X1 as its processor of choice for Android TV since 2015, and Nintendo also uses the chipset for its Switch line of consoles.
Needless to say, the Tegra X1 is now outdated and has been beaten by rival chips like Qualcomm for a few years. Unfortunately, the company hasn’t released any real successor chipsets since the Tegra X1, while the Tegra X2 and successor chips are more focused on the automotive space.
A significant hurdle for the new Shield tablet is the choice of processor.
Still, it seems likely that Nvidia is working on a mobile-friendly Tegra chipset, as Nintendo will likely want a new Tegra processor for anything after the Switch (while still maintaining backward compatibility). So we could definitely see the company use this processor for its own products, especially if it wants to implement DLSS that requires specific Nvidia hardware.
Another barrier to a differentiated experience is the library of games. Of course, Nvidia has the Geforce Now experience, but that also applies to other Android devices. The company previously offered ports of PC and console games through its Lightspeed Studios development company, so these existing titles would be a sensible addition. But what about future ownership ports?
Unfortunately, the company told Android Authority Last year, it prioritized “streaming, and we can now bring full-featured, high-resolution PC games to Shield users rather than porting.” So if the company launches a new Shield tablet, we can’t expect more port. It’s not a necessity for this device, but it’s certainly another selling point.
What will the future Shield tablet require?
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
If Nvidia wants critical and/or commercial success, it needs to reboot the Shield tablet. The original Shield tablet certainly gave us some pointers in this regard. Perhaps the most prominent Shield Tablet hardware feature we’d like to see on the new device is the speaker setup, with four speakers. The push for thinner bezels means we may not see the pair of dual front-facing speakers we saw on the original device above, but having a pair of speakers on the top and bottom is still very welcome and pushes the content forward Consume a large degree of credentials.
The original stylus comes with a stylus and a dedicated stylus slot, but I’m not sure we need to look at both options on the new device. However, we’ve seen various tablets launch with support for styluses and official first-party styluses (bundled or purchased separately), so it makes sense for Nvidia to offer this support to cater to the creative and productivity crowd.
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We also want to know the screen size of future Shield tablets, the original with a 7-inch display. The current era of thin bezels means that Nvidia can afford larger screens of the same size. Still, the company absolutely needs support for high refresh rates for gaming and smoother experiences. This support will also be incorporated into Geforce Now, up to 120fps.
Speaking of Geforce Now, we think Nvidia might be wise to offer owners of rebooted Shield tablets a better experience in this regard. For example, the company can offer a year of access to the RTX 3080 layer, which offers advanced ray tracing, 4K HDR, and 120fps gaming options.
Powerful media-centric hardware plus some free Geforce Now would be an effective combination.
Another must for future Shield tablets is adequate cooling to ensure sustained performance levels. After all, we’ve seen the performance of chipsets like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Exynos 2200 drop significantly over time. The form factor of the tablet itself can help, but ideally Nvidia should follow in the footsteps of gaming phones like the Red Magic 7 series and provide cooling fans for optimal performance during long gaming sessions.
Finally, Nvidia needs to figure out whether it offers a separate controller, a Switch-style form factor with detachable controls, or a Steam Deck form factor with integrated controls. We’re guessing the company will offer a separate controller to keep costs down for those who just want a tablet. So including a folio case that’s capable of propping up the tablet — as we’ve seen with the original device — seems like a no-brainer. Then again, we’d also like to see the device feature a Razer Kishi-style telescoping controller, or a Switch-style control method.
good time to reboot
Those parts are mostly for the new Nvidia Shield tablet, the market embraces slate again, Google focuses on making better Android software for bigger screens, and more big-name games on the Play Store (in addition to more controller-supported games) ).
Would you like to see the new Shield tablet?
Nvidia’s own strengths are also behind the new tablet, as the company’s Shield TV device enjoys vital long-term support, top-notch multimedia features, game streaming and a curated library of exclusive games. Add in the company’s DLSS graphics technology, and we could see a very unique tablet proposition.
Graphics companies still have several hurdles to overcome, such as processor choice. But the arguments for the new Nvidia Shield tablet definitely outweigh the arguments against it.