In a sea full of lackluster Android consoles, Nvidia's Shield shines. You might not see the Shield much in everyday life, but this Android-powered gaming portable is easily one of the nicest pieces of hardware that you probably don't own. And even better, Nvidia's still adding goodies to the handheld nearly a year after launch.
I recently caught up with the Shield team at GDC, where they demoed a slew of new features debuting with the device's April 2 system update. And the biggest addition is a doozy: Remote GameStream support.
If you haven't followed the Shield, GameStream is Nvidia's PC streaming technology. Basically, if your PC's graphics are powered by an Nvidia GeForce GTX 600- or 700-series graphics card, you can stream full-blown PC games to your Shield and play them over your local network.
Read: Nvidia Shield's 'GameStream' PC streaming is a tantalizing taste of the future
Well, at least you used to be restricted to your local network.
With the new device update, you can now use the Shield to Wake-on-LAN your computer from any network and then play your games from wherever you're located--at a friend's house, at the coffee shop, or even over LTE if you have a strong enough data connection. All you need is a steady 5Mbps upstream at home and a steady 5Mbps downstream wherever you're trying to play (along with the aforementioned Nvidia GPU, of course).
I was unfortunately unable to test the new capability, but that's a pretty strong sell if you're trying to play games on the go and don't own a gaming laptop. Nvidia had me play Titanfall on a Shield at GDC and the twitch-shooter multiplayer action worked relatively well on a local network. There's bound to be more latency-induced hiccups over a remote connection, but Nvidia claims Remote GameStream is comparable to other game-streaming solutions.
Nvidia's also adding official support for numerous PC games to GameStream, ranging from Titanfall to Dark Souls II to The Stanley Parable. Non-supported games can also be streamed via Steam's Big Picture mode, as has long been the case, and a new addition lets you manually add unsupported games to GameStream from GeForce Experience. (You're going to have a bad time if you pick a title that doesn't include controller support, though.)
You'll also be able to use GameStream with laptop GPUs when the Shield update hits. The Titanfall stream I played was run off the new Razer Blade model, which sports a GeForce GTX 870M.
Slight Shield tweaks
There are a few cosmetic changes coming too. After the update, the Shield will run Android 4.4.2 KitKat instead of Jelly Bean, and the TegraZone storefront is getting a heavy redesign to promote discoverability. And big update late last year made the Shield play far nicer with native Android games, remember.
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