Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
Nvidias Shield TV units have long been held up as the best streaming gadgets for Android TV around, and it’s not hard to see why. They have a good level of power and lots of handy software features, while Nvidia has delivered a year-long update commitment that smoothly beats all Android phones on the market.
However, this was not Nvidia’s first Shield product. Long-time Android enthusiasts remember that the Nvidia Shield Tablet was the company’s first Shield device. With a Tegra K1 processor, 1,920 x 1,200 screen, pen and a four-speaker, Nvidia’s first and only tablet was about as good as it was in 2014.
It has been eight long years since the first attempt then, but the time may be right for a 2022 Shield tablet.
Most of the game pieces are here
Today’s tablet landscape differs from 2014 in two important ways when it comes to games. First, game streaming has seen a large increase as an alternative to local gaming. As early as 2014, Sony’s Remote Play and third-party PC apps were among the only ways to stream games on your phone via a wireless connection.
Nvidia also has its own long-standing cloud gaming service on offer, called Geforce Now. The platform allows you to remotely stream your own gaming library via Nvidia’s own powerful servers. Best of all, Geforce Now supports several game show windows such as Steam, Epic Game Store and Ubisoft Connect. Whichever service you choose, today’s tablets provide great portable games.
Android has games, streaming services and support for controls.
Steering wheel support is another area that has seen great progress since the early days of Android. Google’s platform has supported controls since Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich, but in – game support was a different story.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of controller-compatible games in the Play Store today, with big hits like Alien: Isolation, Apex Legends Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile, Dead Cells, GRID Autosport and Stardew Valley leading the way. It does not hurt that newer controls such as the Nintendo Switch remotes and PS5 DualSense are also compatible with the platform.
Today game phones also offers fairly robust remapping software, so you can use a device’s shoulder buttons in games that do not actually support the gamepad in the first place. So we’ve really got a friendlier environment for controls.
The world (and Google) cares about tablets again
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
Another reason for Nvidia to jump on the slate train is that Android tablets have seen a resurgence in recent years, not in part due to the pandemic. The unit category withered away in the late 2010s, with the global market drop 1.5% on an annual basis in 2019 to 144 million units, the year before the pandemic. That decline does not sound so bad, but IDC reported tablet deliveries of 229.6 million units in 2014.
By comparison, global tablets reached 163.5 million units 2020 and 168.5 million units in 2021. That momentum may slow down after the fourth quarter of 2021 saw an annual decline, but the iron is still hot enough for Nvidia to strike with its own Shield tablet. After all, media consumption, one of the strengths of the Nvidia Shield line, was one of several key factors that drove this upswing in the first place.
The tablet market has seen record growth, while Google (finally) is polishing the software side.
The renewed interest in tablets also coincides with Google’s own rejuvenated efforts to focus on the form factor. The platform holder revealed Android 12L in October 2021, targeting tablets, folders and other large-screen Android devices, all rolled into Android 13. It also confirmed at its I / O 2022 developer conference that it would update 20 first-party apps with tablet-focused interfaces. Better ultra-centric than ever, I guess, but we hope Google maintains that momentum.
So with the tablet landscape flourishing and Google putting in the software work, there is a strong foundation here for future tablet releases in general.
Nvidia’s secret sauce for tablets
Nvidia also has several in-house strengths that would fit well with a future tablet. First, Shield TVs also support AI scaling for videos, which increases the resolution of videos up to 4K so you can get a more detailed picture. Similar video super-resolution technology is also available on smartphones from e.g. OnePlus and Xiaomi (although it’s generally focused on lower output resolutions), so we expect to see this technology on a new Nvidia tablet.
Another Nvidia technology that makes sense to implement on a future tablet is DLSS (deep learning supersampling). The technology is available on computers with Nvidia RTX graphics cards, with dedicated machine learning silicon to scale up video game resolutions.
DLSS has the advantage of delivering a sharper image without requiring a lot of power compared to running with the target resolution. The technique has been upset for a future Nintendo Switch model, and it really seems like a great way to deliver enhanced image on a tablet without a huge performance and battery life.
Nvidia also has another feather in its cap if it chooses to take out a new tablet on the market. The Shield tablet and Shield TVs all have access to a small library of Shield-exclusive games ported from console and PC. These games include Borderlands 2, Half-Life 2, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Resident Evil 5 and Tomb Raider.
Challenges before a restart of Shield tablet
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome for a 2022 Shield tablet is the control circuit. Nvidia has been using the Tegra X1 as its Android TV processor since 2015, while Nintendo also uses the control circuit for its Switch line of consoles.
Needless to say, the Tegra X1 is old right now and has been run over by rival chips from the likes of Qualcomm already for a couple of years. Unfortunately, the company has not released any real follow-up chipset since the Tegra X1, with the Tegra X2 and subsequent chips more focused on car space.
A significant obstacle in the way of a new Shield Tablet is the choice of processor.
Still, it seems possible that Nvidia is working on a really mobile-focused Tegra chipset, as Nintendo will probably want a new Tegra processor for whatever comes after the Switch (while maintaining backward compatibility). So we could definitely see the company grabbing this processor for their own products, especially if it wants to implement DLSS, which requires specific Nvidia hardware.
Another obstacle in the way of a differentiated experience is the gaming library. Sure, Nvidia has its Geforce Now experience, but this is available for other Android devices as well. The company previously offered ports of PC and console games through its development house Lightspeed Studios, so these existing games would be a wise addition. But what about future titles?
Unfortunately, the company told Android Authority last year that it prioritized “streaming where we can provide Shield users with full-featured, high-resolution PC games over porting, right now.” It therefore sounds as if we can not count on more ports if the company launches a new Shield tablet. This would not be a necessity for the device, but it would definitely be another selling point.
What would a future Shield Tablet need?
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
Nvidia will need to get a rebooted Shield tablet properly if it hopes to achieve critical and / or commercial success. The original Shield Tablet really gives us some tips in this regard. Perhaps the most prominent hardware feature for the Shield Tablet that we hope to see on a new device is the speaker installation, with four speakers. The pressure on thinner frames means that we probably will not see a pair of dual front speakers that we see on the original unit above, but having a pair of speakers at the top and bottom would still be very welcome and push the content consumption merits in a big way.
The original pad came with a stylus pen and a dedicated stylus compartment, but I’m not sure if we need to see both of those options on a new device. However, we have seen a variety of tablets launched with stylus support and an official first-party stylus (either included or as a separate purchase), so it makes sense for Nvidia to offer this support to satisfy the creative and productivity audience.
We’re also wondering about the screen size of a future Shield tablet, with the original having a 7-inch screen. The current era of thin frames means that Nvidia can afford to pack a larger screen for the same size. The company will definitely need to offer support with a high frequency of updates, both for games and for a more fluid experience in general. This support would also be included in Geforce Now, which peaks at 120 fps.
Speaking of Geforce Now, we think it might be a wise move for Nvidia to offer owners of the restarted Shield tablet a more premium experience in this regard. For example, the company can offer one year of access to the RTX 3080 level, which offers premium ray tracing, 4K HDR and 120fps gaming options.
Powerful media-focused hardware with a splash of free Geforce Now would be a powerful combination.
Another necessity for a future Shield tablet is adequate cooling to ensure sustainable performance levels. After all, we’ve seen the chipsets like Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Exynos 2200 falter in large when looking at performance over time. The tablet form factor on its own can help, but Nvidia should preferably follow in the footsteps of gaming phones that Red Magic 7 Series and offers a cooling fan for the best possible performance during long gaming sessions.
Finally, Nvidia will need to address whether it offers a separate controller, a Switch-style form factor with detachable controls or a Steam Deck form factor with integrated controls. We guess the company would offer a separate controller to keep costs down for those who just want the tablet alone. So including a folio case that can support the tablet – as we saw with the original device – seems like a sensible idea. Again we would love to see one Razer Kishitelescopic control unit for the unit as well, or a switch-like approach to controls.
A good time like any other for a reboot
The parts have mostly been assembled for a new Nvidia Shield tablet, with the market embracing slate again, Google is focusing on making better Android software for larger screens and more big name games in the Play Store (in addition to more controls supported by titles).
Want to see a new Shield tablet?
Nvidia’s own strengths strengthen the bag for a new tablet as well, as the company’s Shield TV units enjoy crucial long-term support, first-class multimedia features and access to game streaming and a selected library of exclusive titles. Throw in the company’s DLSS graphics technology and we can look at a very unique proposal for tablets.
There are still a few obstacles for the graphics company to overcome, such as the choice of processor. But the arguments in favor of a new Nvidia Shield Tablet really outweigh the arguments against it.
#Nvidia #Shield #Tablet #perfect #time