NVIDIA is pushing out a firmware update to the SHIELD Portable, the new name of the Android gaming handheld formerly only known as the SHIELD. While this update brings a number of improvements to the overall gaming ecosystem, its key point is that the SHIELD Portable can now be controlled using the new NVIDIA SHIELD Wireless Controller.
A wireless controller for the SHIELD Portable might sound redundant. After all, the SHIELD Portable is practically a controller with a clamshell-type display. This integration, however, does serve one purpose. If you want to play your Android games on a larger screen, you can connect the Portable to the TV and leave it there. You can then play and enjoy from your couch or chair using the wireless controller. The SHIELD Wireless Controller also has it’s own 3.5 mm audio jack and built-in microphone so that you won’t have to use the Portable’s equivalent ports when it is a few feet away.
The update also brings in other changes, like the new SHIELD Hub app that rebrands and replaces the former TegraZone app. GameStream, which lets you play some of your PC games on your SHIELD Portable or Tablet, has also been improved, now with new onscreen controls. Netflix HD now also supports 1080p quality video when streaming in Console Mode. Plus, unique to devices that have wired connections, the SHIELD Portable’s notification bar now sports an Ethernet icon of its own. That is, when connected via Ethernet and not WiFi or mobile.
With the integration of the SHIELD Wireless Controller into the SHIELD Portable, NVIDIA has practically come full circle, completing its new SHIELD Triumvirate. It will be interesting to see how the Android gaming market, and the entire gaming market in general, respond to this new thrust. While the SHIELD Portable was regarded to be well-favored and popular, it wasn’t considered exactly a retail success. The SHIELD Tablet, with its hybrid gaming and note-taking purposes, is still too new and might be too niche to make a dent. The SHIELD Wireless Controller, on the other hand, is too exclusive to the SHIELD to make it of any use beyond NVIDIA’s currently limited ecosystem.