The NVIDIA Shield Products which use the NVIDIA Grid gaming service will hit 40 free games this month and these are fast becoming my favorite mobile entertainment product. They not only will have 40 of the top games, streamed for free, but like all Android tablets they’ll run Netflix, Amazon Prime, the new Sling OTA service from Dish, and a variety of streaming music services including my favorite, Slacker.
If you carry a Shield Tablet and an HDMI cable that will work with it (one end has to have a Micro HDMI plug) you can then plug it into TVs and with your Shield controller you have a pretty decent traveling game system/set top box for movies and TV. If you have a Sling box at home or a TiVo you can even stream your home TV programs to your tablet.
As a result the Shield Tablet may be the best mobile set top box on the market.
Kindle vs. Amazon FireTV
I was traveling with a FireTV for a while just to see if I could get a great experience. Problem is that in many hotels you can’t get access to the TV HDMI ports and, as a result, the typical set top box is largely useless on the road. In addition on a plane or in a car there really isn’t a provision for a set top box, yes you could likely wire it into some cars with a DVD player but the screen often goes blank when you start driving and you still have to have some kind of a network connection.
As a result I quickly found that my Kindle HD was far more useful. No it didn’t have the Amazon FireTV voice command feature which I have to admit is really handy when you are searching for something to watch but I could use the Tablet to watch programs even if there was no TV or I couldn’t get access to the TV’s HDMI port.
So while I still use my FireTV on the TV at home I started using my tablet a lot more when I travel.
Shield Tablet vs. Kindle
Now the difference between the two products is that the Kindle provides a better shopping experience but the Shield Tablet has access to 40 top level games for free and when you are traveling games are more important than shopping. However you do need to be able to stream the games and some hotels have started throttling HD content making gaming and HD moving watching a bit painful. The work around is to either get the tablet with the data plan option enabled, which isn’t a cheap date, or use a personal 3G access point (which is what I’ve been doing).
On planes I tend to just download movies to watch the day before the trip and I just play the Android games resident on the tablet. So while the Shield Tablet does, and will, have an edge with the 40 free gaming titles if you are hoping to game in most hotels or planes you’ll still likely fall back onto the same game selections the Kindle shares.
So the Shield tablet is better than the smaller Kindle tablet but not as much as it would be if planes had access to high bandwidth Wi-Fi. There is no large screen Shield Tablet yet.
Wrapping Up: Pointing the Way to the Future
In the end though I think the Shield tablet points the way to the future when most all of our content will be available on our mobile device which we’ll plug into TV screens, monitors, mice, and keyboards in order to get a richer experience. Kind of like a Super Set Top box but one that can work without a TV when needed and fully become the perfect traveling companion.
The NVIDIA Grid system that backs up the Shield family of products is still in its infancy which suggests that as it advances to its final configuration increasingly you simply may not need to carry anything but your tablet in order to make sure you are fully entertained on a trip.