If you were among the select few that signed up for NVIDIA’s Shield newsletter then you’ve been able to pre-order the company’s curious handset for a few days now. The remainder of the gaming masses originally had to wait until Monday for their own turn, but that’s no longer the case — NVIDIA’s retail partners have jumped on the pre-order bandwagon too so you can now stake your claim on a Shield from Newegg, Gamestop, and Canada Computer starting today.
MicroCenter will also sell the Shield in June but it hasn’t yet gotten its pre-order page set up. Get yourself together, MicroCenter.
I’m still not convinced that the Shield will find a foothold outside of the geekiest mobile gamers, but our own Darrell Etherington recently took the thing for a spin and came away rather impressed. He even went as far as calling it “the way Android games should be played,” a sentiment I don’t completely disagree with — we’ve seen the quality of mobile games surge by leaps and bounds these past few years, to the point where they easily eclipse consoles of years past. While those mobile games have slowly come into their own, the control schemes that are forced upon us thanks to the advent of the touchscreen leave much to be desired. There’s still something limiting and unsatisfying about effetely pawing at a piece of glass (or worse, a resistive display — yuck), a sentiment that others have championed, too. Early reactions to the Shield are generally positive, at least where the hardware and control layout is concerned, so at least there’s that to look forward to.
But in the end, will the Shield sell? And what does NVIDIA hope to get out of it? As it happens, NVIDIA may not care all that much about pure sales volume anyway. Time’s Jared Newman spoke to NVIDIA GM of mobile games Bill Rehbock at I/O, who pointed out that the Shield was designed to highlight the sorts of high-end gaming experiences developers have crafted for Android, not to mention the power of the company’s Tegra 4 chipset. There’s little question that NVIDIA’s newest system-on-a-chip has got plenty of horsepower to play with, but it’s still hard to see the Shield as much more than an incredibly niche device that raises more questions than answers.