Those worried that NVIDIA's SHIELD tablet would see the limited support run often typical of mobile devices should have their fears allayed somewhat today. The green team, who spent a lot of effort pushing SHIELD as a viable gaming platform, have made a couple of big announcements key to the strength of SHIELD in the medium term.
Something Sweet This Way Comes
First up is the rolling out of Android 5.0 Lollipop, bringing with it enhancements including Material Design and expected UI performance improvements. Holding back OS updates has typically been common with Android devices from other manufacturers simply due to the high turnover rate and relatively short lifetime before an upgrade; by pushing Lollipop out to consumers NVIDIA are showing that they expect the SHIELD tablet to be no 'flash in the pan'.
SHIELD's Lollipop update will also include the Dabbler app. The painting software, now augmented and gaining inspiration from material design, features support for layers and allows sessions to be streamed over Twitch.
Return to City 17
Of particular interest to new adopters will be that Valve's Half Life 2: Episode One is optimised for Tegra K1 and coming exclusively to the SHIELD tablet. In their own take on the classic 'Orange Box' Half Life 2 promotion, NVIDIA's Green Box will bundle Half Life 2, Portal 1 and Half Life 2: Episode One free with the 32GB/LTE version of the SHIELD Tablet. Don't be dismayed by their age, each is a classic well worth the many hours you will spend to complete.
Four new titles, also optimised for SHIELD, are also available on the Google Play Store:
OddWorld: Stranger’s Wrath
Strike Suit Zero
Strike Suit Zero
Be One Of The First On The GRID
The second headline news items, and perhaps most the intriguing for all SHIELD enthusiasts, comes the news that the NVIDIA GRID game streaming service will be free for all SHIELD users (of both the tablet and portable) until June 30 2015.
GRID aims to do for gaming what Netflix and Spotify have done for film and music respectively: offer streaming of high-quality industry leading content. For gaming this means unlocking the ability to stream video from- and send input commands to remote game servers; essentially a scaled up version of GAMESTREAM which SHIELD users should already be familiar with.
Two factors are key - a wide selection of games that you might want to play and very low latency. NVIDIA already have 20 AAA titles signed up, including Batman: Arkham City and Borderlands 2, and more should be coming if NVIDIA can both show demand and exert their not inconsiderable industry influence. The latter point... remains to be seen, but you will get a chance to try it out for the next few months before committing.
Android 5.0 Lollipop for SHIELD tablets is due for release on November 18th. GRID will be available in North American later this month, with Europe following in December and Asia early next year. For more information visit the NVIDIA Blog