Gaming with the Nvidia Shield K-1

I didn’t get to talk much about my new Nvidia Shield K-1 tablet before I left for the holidays because I got it only a day or so before I went on the road. While I haven’t spent hours with it yet to test everything out, I’ve dabbled with it enough to get a good feel for how the device works. I have to say I’m very pleased with my choice in tablet upgrades.

Time to Upgrade

My first tablet was a Nexus 7 (2012), which was an excellent choice in entry tablets at the time, and one I don’t regret getting. While I still have my Nexus 7 and it’s still running (and should be supported for updates this year!), I started to feel like the device was showing its age. It would sometimes hang when it felt it had too many windows open, on things such as Chrome or Feedly. The wi-fi was finicky (an Android thing, I’ve learned), and the newer Android OS were starting to bog it down.

Most of all, it had no option for expanded memory. No micro SD slot means I was confined to keeping everything under the 16GB internal storage space. So that limited me on the apps and games I could install.

I did my research, and felt like the Shield would be the best upgrade option, especially at the price point. The tablet has all the features I wanted, is geared towards gamers, and has a price point of $199. I’ve seen it go out of stock at least twice on Amazon, where 3rd party sellers jack up the price to $250-something. So if you’re looking into picking one of these up, be patient and wait for them to come back in stock.

The only stipulation with the Shield K-1 is that it doesn’t have a stylus (don’t need it) and it doesn’t have a charging cord included. But if you’re like me, and have other Android devices, you probably already have a cord. Or you could just pick one up on the cheap from Amazon.

Making the Move

The extended memory micro SD slot is the major feature that impressed me with this. Using Android’s relatively new formatting option, you can stick up to a 128GB micro SD in there, and make it an extension of the tablet’s internal memory in moments. I’m never going to worry about space on my device again.

Also, moving from one Android device to another was so simple. I wrote down a list of all the apps I wanted to move over, and expected hours of installing and searching, but that’s not how it went. The moment I entered my Gmail address, the Shield knew who I was, what was in my Google Play account, and asked me what all I wanted to move to my new tablet. I was up and running in 15 mins! So amazed!

Of course, things like Amazon apps had to be re-installed, but I didn’t have a lot of those actually on my old device (due to space limitations), despite having a whole slew of Amazon Underground apps sitting on my account.

Over the holidays, I ended up picking up Final Fantasy IV (the 3DS port version) and Final Fantasy Tactics since S/E was having a half off sale. I figured these would be good benchmarks to try out the new tablet.

Gaming Tablet

I was totally blown away with how well the Shield handled both Final Fantasy titles – the sound and graphics were all smooth and it performed well without breaking a sweat. My only complaint was that it was difficult for me to adjust to the touch controls for FFIV. Running around and talking to NPCs took twice as long as it normally would in Baron. I figured I’d eventually get used to it, though.

Then, I found out that FFIV had controller support. Now, I wasn’t going to pick up the Shield controller this soon, but after reading good reviews about it and learning that it can actually be used on my PC for gaming as well, I decided to take the plunge. It came in yesterday, and oh, man, does it make playing FFIV so much better.

Playing FFIV on my Shield.
The controller is totally wireless, but it’s shown wired here because I was charging it.

My only sadness is that not every game supports the controller – such as FF Tactics. But that’s not the controller’s fault.

Impressed by what I saw, I decided to pick up a mini-HDMI cable, which will allow me to hook the Shield up to my TV for even more gaming options. I’m kinda stoked by the idea of playing some of these games on the big screen – I’m just hoping FFIX for Android has controller support, because having my two favorite FF games both portable and big-screen at my own whim will be just amazing!

I’ll let you know the outcome of tablet gaming on my TV once I get the cable¬†Thursday!