NVIDIA is known in the computer gaming industry mostly for their range of successful graphics cards, but they also manufacture a range of ARM-compatible mobile System-on-Chips, labelled the Tegra. These chipsets have seen service in numerous devices over the years including the original generation Nexus 7, which used the NVIDIA Tegra 3, to the Nexus 9 and Google Pixel C, which uses NVIDIA Tegra K1 and X1 chipsets respectively. All of these chips have a bias towards video performance, with the Tegra K1 and X2 having 192 and 256 GPU cores respectively. NVIDIA’s chips are also found at the heart of NVIDIA-branded products, such as the successful SHIELD Tablet and last year, the first generation SHIELD Tablet was replaced with the SHIELD Tablet K1.
The SHIELD Tablet K1 is very similar to the outgoing 16 GB model of the SHIELD, offering customers a tablet with a bias towards gaming. It features an 8.0-inch, 1080p display, the quad-core, 32-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 chip clocked at up to 2.2 GHz, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage and a 5,200 mAh capacity battery. NVIDIA’s “special sauce” is on the software of the device, where the device runs a near-stock build of Android, but benefiting from a number of NVIDIA’s technologies such as GeForce NOW, a cloud-based streaming application that allows customers to play PC games from their tablet. There’s an optional controller, a mini-HDMI output, a microSD slot for cards of up to 128 GB capacity, plus front facing stereo speakers.
The NVIDIA SHIELD K1 tablet receives software updates direct from NVIDIA and they have just released version 1.3 for the SHIELD Tablet K1, which builds upon the last update to 1.2 and includes increasing the Android version number to 6.0.1 Marshmallow and incorporating the new Vulkan API drivers. This update to Android 6.0.1 includes the latest security patches from Google, up to 1 June 2016, plus a number of additional fixes and improvements to the device. Chief fixes include improving the touch screen responsiveness, connectivity issues with the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, plus enhancements and fixes to the Vulkan API. Amongst the new features, NVIDIA have enabled Android 6.0 Professional Audio, featuring support for Low Latency Audio (with a sub-20ms round trip), MIDI support over both USB and Bluetooth LE, USB Host and Peripheral modes and the option to toggle the navigation button location. NVIDIA has also added that the update brings with it, “overall stability and additional security improvements” for the device.