Nvidia’s Shield Tablet will be one of the first tablets beyond the Nexus 9 and Nexus 7 to get Android 5.0 Lollipop, with an update that arrives November 18. Nvidia isn’t stopping there, however, as the update also includes a brand new Nvidia Dabbler app for use with the Shield Tablet’s stylus, and a new Shield Hub, plus use of Material Design cues throughout.
Also launching this month is Grid, Nvidia’s on-demand streaming gaming service, which is available exclusively to Shield devices. The Grid service was available in beta to users in California before now, but it’s opening its doors to a general audience across North America this month, with a debut in western Europe starting in December and a rollout throughout Asia in 2015.
Grid offers up a library of on-demand top-tier gaming titles, including Batman: Arkham City, Borderlands 2, Psychonauts and more. The service will eventually be paid, but at launch it’ll be free for owners of the Shield Tablet and Shield Portable through June 30, 2015. While it sounds like the games in the library will be mostly a step behind the most current blockbuster releases, this still seems like a great way to catch up on titles that you may have missed, especially given that the cost is below even Steam’s bargain-basement sales prices.
Shield’s streaming requires the new Shield Hub app that’s arriving November 18, an up-to-date Shield device, an active broadband connection with a minimum of 10 Mbps download, and a home network that has a maximum of 60 ms of ping time to reach a Grid server, plus a 5 GHz Wi-Fi router that’s compatible with Nvidia’s GameStream tech. Those aren’t the lowest barriers to entry in the world, but they’re also not unreasonable, especially when your target audience is core gamers.
Nvidia could succeed where others like OnLive have failed, if only because of their expertise crafting state-of-the-art GPUs, for use in both consumer devices and servers. The market has also had time to mature, as has broadband and wireless technology. It’ll be interesting to see what this service costs once it launches in a paid capacity, however, and what other devices it extends to outside of the Shield line.
Nvidia is also offering up a new bundle that includes Half-Life 2, Portal and Half-Life 2: Episode One along with the 32GB/LTE version of the Shield Tablet, and four new Shield-optimized games are arriving on Google Play, including Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, Strike Suit Zero, Turbo Dismount and Pure Pool.
Despite not really being a traditional OEM device maker, Nvidia is really delivering top-notch Android gadgets, as well as timely and consistent software and services support. Grid looks great, and we’ll be sure to let you know how it works in the real-world once it’s here.