We’ve had gaming-focussed PCs and laptops for donkeys years. Heck, we’ve even had a failed attempt or two at gaming-orientated smartphones. Is the stage now set for gaming tablets? Nvidia believes so, as it prepares to launch its “built for gamers” Shield Tablet.
“When we looked at the original Shield handheld, we started to think, ‘What can we do next?’ One of the markets we looked at very carefully was tablets,” said Chris Daniel, Nvidia’s senior manager of product marketing at the launch of the Shield Tablet.
“We believe the timing is right for a specialty tablet. Just as other industries and markets have matured and specialised products have come out of them, it’s now that time for tablets. Take the auto industry and the Model T, when you could get any colour you wanted so long as it was black, and now you can get all kinds of cars to suit your needs. The same happened with the PC industry, you had a very traditional PC and out of that you were eventually offered workstations, gaming PCs, laptops.”
So as a gaming ecosystem, Android is certainly mature enough. But this isn’t the first time Nvidia has delved into portable gaming hardware. Last year’s Shield handheld was an intriguing-if-imperfect product and, despite selling in greater quantities now than it did at launch (something Daniel puts down to the positive commitment Nvidia made to pushing out a solid stream of over-the-air software improvements), it never made its way to the UK. Why?
“We had a lot to learn about building a consumer product -- Nvidia isn’t traditionally a consumer product company,” said Daniel.
“So we wanted to learn first. We had a lot to learn about the supply chain, about building a complete PC, industrial design, mechanical components. So we wanted to launch initially in the US.
“We built Shield to provide the best Android gaming experience, a singular container to provide gamers amazing experiences and to provide developers a platform on which to develop amazing Android content. We want to help the Android gaming community to progress, to create more and higher-quality games. The Shield Tablet takes all that we’ve learnt from that first product -- it’s built for gaming, for gamers, in every way we could.”
This time at least, the Shield Tablet will definitely be making the jump across the pond. Launching this month in the US, the Shield Tablet and its specialised controller will sell directly from Nvidia to gamers from mid-August. The 16GB Wi-Fi edition will cost £229. For more on the Shield Tablet, check out our first hands on test notes.