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Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Flexible gaming
  • GeForce Now
  • Sharp, vibrant screen
  • Strong value for money

The Bad

  • Very little evolution
  • Battery life could be better
4.5

Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 Review: The latest version of Nvidia’s own-brand gaming tablet doesn’t mess with a winning formula, with few changes over the Shield Tablet LTE. Here’s our thoughts on the Shield Tablet K1.

Finding a good Android gaming device can be tricky, but Nvidia absolutely nailed it with the Shield Tablet, which boasted exclusive Android games including console classics such as Half Life 2, plus game streaming from your home PC or Nvidia’s own GeForce Now service

Now we’ve got a new version of the Shield Tablet, known simply as the Shield Tablet K1, in time for Christmas 2015. So, what’s the difference and is the Shield Tablet K1 the new mobile gaming champion?

Design

In terms of design, the Shield Tablet K1 is only a little different to last year’s model. It’s still a chunky little 8-incher with a soft-touch rear and typically all-black finish, that’s comfortable enough to clutch for extended gaming sessions.

The main change compared with the Shield Tablet LTE is the lack of a stylus, once housed in a corner of the tablet. It was a decent little pen that was useful for creative tasks, but personally I never used it again after completing the original Shield Tablet review, and can imagine most users forgetting that it even existed. You can still buy the stylus separately from Nvidia if you’re interested.

As for connectivity, you get an Mini-HDMI port to hook up to your telly for a more social gaming experience, plus the usual micro USB port for charging and data transfer.

Screen and media

Nvidia hasn’t altered the Shield Tablet’s screen for the Shield Tablet K1 either. The 8-inch IPS display still boasts a sharp 1920×1200 pixel resolution, keeping your games, movies and everything else looking nice and crisp. It’s quite a colourful panel too, matching the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet for attractive imagery, although it can’t quite reach the levels of vibrancy and strong contrast of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2.

Of course, the on-board Nvidia GPU does a mighty fine job of rendering your games, with beautiful particle and lighting effects, and the Shield Tablet K1’s Full HD panel is more than a match for the visual effects. Likewise, the stereo front-facing speakers do a decent job of pumping out audio, although you’ll want to use proper headphones for a more sensory experience.

If you want to carry around a ton of media, the good news is that you get a microSD memory card slot for expanding the 16GB of on-board storage, up to a further 128GB. 

Features

The Shield Tablet K1 is a great little tablet for enjoying movies on the go, but its real strength lies in its rival-smashing gaming prowess. Thanks to its incredible flexibility, the Shield Tablet will appeal to fans of mobile gaming, console gaming and PC gaming alike, with many different ways to get your game on.

Coupled with the Nvidia Shield Controller, the Shield Tablet K1 is a great way to play Android games on the go. Nvidia’s smart on-board software means that previously touch-based games are mapped to the controller automatically, so you can blast through them with full physical controls instead. With platform and action games, it makes a world of difference having a proper controller. And Nvidia’s Hub app links to the best Nvidia-optimised games on the Google Play store, including exclusive titles you can’t play on other Android tablets.

When you’re back home, you can push your games onto the big screen via HDMI or services like Chromecast. Even better, you can stream your Steam PC games direct from your computer over your home WiFi, a service that’s easy to set up and works beautifully.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Nvidia’s GeForce Now service gives you unlimited game streaming from the cloud for just £7.49 a month. With seriously impressive performance and a choice of dozens of games covering a wide range of genres (including plenty for kids), this is almost certainly the begininning of the end for home gaming consoles.

Read next: What is GeForce Now and why should I get it?

There’s no SIM support in the Shield Tablet K1, so if you want to play connected games on the go you’ll need to seek out a decent WiFi network. Or, alternatively, track down the Shield Tablet LTE instead.

Performance and battery life

Sadly the new Shield K1 doesn’t come packing Nvidia’s own Tegra X1 processor, launched at the start of 2015. It’s a real shame as the X1 is impressively powerful for a mobile chip, but in all fairness the Tegra K1 chipset found in this tablet is still a solid performer. You can play the latest super-intensive action games with no kind of issue and there are Nvidia-optimised games such as Doom 3 coming soon, which can’t be played on lesser tablets.

Read next: Nvidia Shield Tablet vs Nintendo 3DS vs Sony PS Vita, which is the best?

Battery life sadly isn’t a strength of the Tablet K1, although it’s not particularly bad either. You can get around five hours of video streaming on a single charge and about four hours of intense gaming before the battery dies. If you’re after something that can keep you amused on long journeys, you might be better served by the iPad Mini or iPad Air.

Verdict

At just £149, the Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 offers very strong value for money – although of course you’ll need to stump up anohter £49.99 for the controller and £19.99 for the Nvidia cover. However, that’s still a solid deal and well worth grabbing if you’re a big gaming fan and don’t already own last year’s Shield Tablet.

Existing owners don’t need to bother upgrading until the next model, which will hopefully come packing the Tegra X1.

Specification

Screen size8-inches
Screen resolution1920x1200
Weight390g
OSAndroid Lollipop
Front camera5MP
Rear Camera5MP
ProcessorNvidia Tegra K1 (2.2GHz Quad Core)
Memory2GB
Storage16GB + microSD
4G LTENo
Bonus featuresGeForce Now (needs subscription)

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