One of the coolest little portable gaming devices of the past five years that never received the recognition that it deserved was the Nvidia Shield. Seemingly destined for a life of niche users, it never really sold as many units as it probably should have, considering the impressive hardware specifications that were packed into the systems little body. However, the relative usefulness of the system–and how much it impressed its small user base–have left many wondering when we’d see a second iteration of the Shield. A “Nvidia Shield 2,” or whatever the company deigned to call it.
Well, we have an answer for you, and that answer doesn’t come in the form of a release date. However, we’re not without reasons to remain optimistic about Nvidia’s future with cutting edge, portable hardware, either. Read on for more details!
Even if the Shield never got the limelight that it deserved, Nvidia remains one of the foremost companies associated with high-quality gaming. Primarily, this is due to the company’s massively popular graphics technology, used in everything from personal computers to laptops to video game consoles. While it has a couple of competitors, Nvidia is without a doubt the most predominant name in consumer graphics technology.
In fact, we don’t have to dip back far into history to see Nvidia’s most recent, spotlit success. The 10-series graphics card that it developed for personal computers are the most powerful that consumers have ever seen. What’s better is the fact that these new graphics cards are flexible and small enough that they can be included in many laptop configurations without a large, overhead thermal alteration in the hardware.
That boils down to this–laptops that can be almost as powerful as desktop computers. That’s a pretty cool reason to remain excited about Nvidia, right?
On top of that, the company is playing a critical role in the gaming industry, and not just through its award-winning video cards. One particular system that was only recently announced is banking large on a piece of technology that saw its first iteration in the Nvidia Shield. Can you guess which it is? We’ll get to it, shortly.
In this article, we’re going to introduce you to the wonder of the Nvidia Shield while also mourning the fact that it never truly caught on among the gaming community. There are some solid reasons that it didn’t, but the power of the hardware itself has left many hopeful that a second Shield would get another shot.
What is the Nvidia Shield?
If you look back about five years or so, the biggest thing in tech would have been the proliferation of the tablet as a major consumer computing device. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android led the charge in tablet software, and the devices were largely hailed as the future of how people interacted with their technology. Capable hardware, bigger screens than those available on smartphones, and greater productivity that was comparable to what you’d get on a laptop.
Since gaming had already made a large splash in the smartphone pool, it was only natural to predict that tablets would be adopted as ideal gaming hardware. Games looked better on tablets due to their larger screens, and the increased size of the device made room for better hardware.
The Nvidia Shield was a product of this line of thought.
It came in the form of a souped-up tablet, which sported a customized, powerful chipset that was designed by Nvidia–the Tegra processor. It combined a GPU with a CPU in a way that wasn’t available with any other tablet. This hugely pushed the Shield’s potential as a gaming machine. It ran on Google’s Android OS, and therefore had access to the entire Android library of games.
This fact was one of the reasons that the Shield never succeeded like it might have.
What Games Released for the Nvidia Shield?
One of the major predictions in the games industry that has yet to follow through with a great semblance of truth is the fact that smartphones and tablets make great gaming machines. However, this is a fairly complicated discussion that we’re going to have to condense, for the sake of simplicity.
Smartphone and tablet games do sell well, and millions of people enjoy them on a daily basis. Look at the success of Pokemon Go, for the most recent, landmark example. However, several big names in the gaming industry were willing to bet that smartphones and tablets would diminish the demand for portable consoles.
This is the part where predictions were trampled by past precedent.
The Nvidia Shield didn’t truly have a catalog of games that were exclusive to it. Since it ran on Android, it had access to the Android library of games and it ran them wonderfully. However, as many gamers will be quick to tell you, smartphone and tablet games can rarely compare to the deep, complex, and immersive experience that you get on actual consoles. Even though the Shield was packing excellent hardware and even its own dedicated controller, the games available on the system itself failed to realize this unique console’s potential.
After all, these Android games could be played on less expensive smartphones and tablets. What use was a rock-solid graphics setup and a customized controller, when the games were designed for a far less nuanced device?
What About Android TV?
Alongside the Shield, Nvidia also released the Shield Pro, which was designed to instead hook up to a high-definition TV. The idea was that the entire Android experience–including the gaming experience carried by the Shield–would be far more fruitful on a TV.
This wasn’t a terrible idea, and the Android TV did allow users to bring all of their favorite apps onto a bigger screen. However, the same problem that existed with the original Shield carried over into this new device–the games available on Android just didn’t benefit in any huge way from a console-like experience.
Does the Shield 2 Have a Release Date?
The Nvidia Shield was a remarkable tablet and a great piece of hardware. Through little fault of its own, however, it never was allowed to be much of a gaming machine. Thus, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that development has been entirely canceled on the rumored Nvidia Shield 2.
While this comes as a huge disappointment to diehard fans of the Shield, it’s not entirely unexpected. Even if the Shield 2 had seen the light of day, it very likely would have faced the exact same limitations as the previous iteration did–that being, the very limited experiences granted by sharing a smartphone’s game library. Millions of people enjoy games on their Android devices, but those experiences are far different from what people are enjoying on actual consoles.
Thus, we likely will never see the Shield 2, but that isn’t a reason to give up hope! In fact, there’s a very specific reason that Shield lovers should get excited about 2017…
The Future of Nvidia
While the Nvidia Shield was a very cool device, it never did outshine the primary products that the company has become known for. Moving into the future, Nvidia will likely remain the premiere (and premium) manufacturer of graphics technology for computers and game consoles. The amount of critical praise hurled its way after the release of the 10-series graphics cards only helps to further cement this fact.
In short, there’s no reason to worry about this company’s future. The things that it has become known for are still the foundation of Nvidia’s business, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.
The Nintendo Switch
Why get excited about 2017, then? If you’re a Nvidia Shield fan, you’re going to love this…
Next year, we’re going to see the release of a brand new console from Nintendo, called the Switch. The Switch comes in the form of a tablet with detachable controllers on either side of it. Additionally, it’s capable of plugging into a home “dock” that allows gameplay to be displayed on an HDTV. It’s a firm melding of Nintendo’s home console and the portable legacy that began all the way back with the Game Boy.
It’s also powered by a customized Nvidia Tegra graphics unit, a direct evolution from what the company designed for their Shield tablet.
What Nintendo has crafted, and what we’ll get our hands on next year, is a perfect melding of ideas. The idea of the Shield–a tablet that can perform as well as any portable console–and the massive library of games that will come with it being a Nintendo system. For most users, the latter fact alone is a major blessing; gamers would much have what Nintendo is selling, rather than the comparatively simpler games available on the Android marketplace.
While there’s no reason to suspect we’ll ever see a Nvidia Shield 2, the release date for the Nintendo Switch–the closest successor that we’ll ever see–comes early in 2017! If you have any questions for us, about the Shield or Nvidia products, let us know in the comments below!