Nvidia’s Shield is the best Android gaming handheld currently available, and though the field isn’t that rich or deep, a new update coming to the device in April takes a solid offering and makes it even better. The new update offers Remote GameStream for playing full console-quality PC games on the road, notebook streaming, Bluetooth keyboard/mouse support, and a redesigned Tegra Zone store for finding optimized games. Plus, Nvidia is dropping the price by $40 through April, meaning you can get a Shield at $199.
That’s not all: The Shield Update brings the version of Android it’s running to 4.4 KitKat, plus it can now wake your remote streaming computer on LAN access and let you login if the host has gone to sleep and locked you out of your Windows installation. Plus, you can get news about Shield updates in the Tegra Zone app now, instead of having to track it down through social channels or news sites. GameStream, in addition to getting Remote play, which requires a recommended upstream/downstream rate of 5mbps to work properly (what Shield described as good home or LTE mobile connectivity), players can also now tweak the framerate and quality of streaming for optimal performance according to their needs.
My favourite feature in the whole mess has to be the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse support though, for the simple reason that it makes it much easier to use the Shield as a portable console for playing classics like Diablo III, Civilization 5, World of Warcraft and other titles that don’t necessarily play well with joypad-style input. It’s not ideal to hook up those input devices and try to play these games on your small screen, but streaming from your gaming PC to your TV via the Shield should offer up a pretty rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Nvidia is also aggressively accelerating the pace at which new launch titles are ready for GameStream play; there are now over 100 titles on the service, compared to just two dozen at launch. Nvidia is optimizing key titles very soon after they hit the market, too, including multi-platform combat sim Titanfall. Plus, apps don’t have to be optimized to be streamed; GameStream will now work with any software, though your mileage may vary with custom control schemes. For those who are mapping gamepad controls, there are improvements for community sharing of mapping profiles.
The update goes live for Shield owners on April 2, which means you’ll still have to wait a little longer to get all the goodness listed above, but it’s definitely an update worth waiting for, if only because it now lets you play your favourite PC games on a portable device while away from home.