Okay, okay. I know I did say earlier this month I was going to be sorting out my flashlight situation, but I had a good opportunity to replace my now non-existent Nexus 7. I had been looking for a while to replace it due to poor quality memory (Either controller or flash) causing the thing to be slow as dirt for multitasking. It served me well for 2.5 years, but ended up leaving me as a gift to someone else. As a result, I’ve been tablet-less since Christmas, and I definitely missed not having one.
I really wanted to replace the Nexus 7 2012 with another Nexus device. The first possible choice was the Nexus 7 2013 which improved on the 2012 in pretty much every way. The only issue though is at this point it’s close to a 2 year old tablet, and the SoC (System on Chip) is getting a bit long in the tooth. A new 2 year old tablet started at 250 bucks, and there were better options for a bit more. On top of that, I wanted something just a bit bigger in the screen department. The next stop was the Nexus 9. Although it was a lot newer and faster, the 8.9″ 4:3 screen was a bit of a turn off, and the price point felt a bit high for what you were getting in a device.
Final stop for my tablet search is what you see above. In my opinion, it’s what the Nexus 9 should have been. It’s the Nvidia Shield tablet. The specs are:
- 2.2GHz quad core Nvidia Tegra K1 w/ 192 core Kepler based GPU
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB storage (MicroSD expansion available)
- 8″ HD IPS display (1920×1200)
- 5MP front and rear facing cameras
- 6700mAh battery
- 390g weight
Also included are dual front facing speakers, a stylus, micro HDMI output, and your usual array of connectivity options. The cherry on top of the package is it runs on stock Android Lollipop with a few Nvidia goodies baked in. I can’t really offer much beyond initial impressions, but compared to my Nexus 7 2012 this device is night and day difference. I was initially fearful that the 8″ size would be almost as unwieldy as a 10″ tablet like my Transformer, but it I was wrong to be afraid. The 8″ size makes it more appealing to grab compared to my phone when I’m looking to do reading or browsing. On top of that, it still retains similar portability of the Nexus 7, however I will need to look into a new sleeve for it.
The screen is considerably better and the resolution is exactly what I wanted. Though 2560×1600 would be nice, 1920×1200 is plenty high res for an 8″ device. Color reproduction and contrast is good and there aren’t any dead or stuck pixels. The back light is very bright, and goes down to very dim as well. The front facing speakers outperform just about any other tablet solution I’ve come across, making for good and clear audio even in noisy environments like the kitchen. Build wise it feels good in hand with no real flex or play. My only complaint with the hardware is the power and volume buttons. They’re very shallow travel and take time to get used to pressing, but I feel I’ll get used to this in due time.
Performance wise the tablet flies. I’ve experienced no real issues with lag or stuttering with normal multitasking. The specs on the tablet also ensure some future proofing, with the SoC currently being one of the fastest on the market when it comes to gaming and general day to day use. Although the tablet is marketed as a “The ultimate tablet for gamers”, my reason for purchasing wasn’t gaming. The device is arguably the ultimate 8″ stock Android tablet on the market currently. My only issues with performance would be in regards to battery life, which is a bit middling. This is to be expected considering the SoC in the tablet. I can estimate I’d get a good 8 hours worth of screen on time for browsing and general usage, dipping down to 2-4 for gaming depending on the title. Standby drain however is pretty exceptional, dropping only about 5% a day idle. So for casual use, I could expect the battery to last a few days, but only a day if I’m using the thing constantly.
The Nexus 5 and the Shield make for a very powerful and very portable Android pair. I don’t think I’ll have many complaints related to speed in 2015, that’s for sure. For now I don’t plan on adding anything more beyond accessories. Perhaps a sleeve, the Shield cover, a Bluetooth keyboard, and perhaps the Shield controller. Just enough gear to make things a bit more usable while on the go. Later in the year, if I plan on blogging a bit more, I may add a Windows or ChromeOS notebook. There are some things that the notebook form factor and “non-mobile” operating systems do better, and content creation is one of them in my eyes.