In November, the Google-branded HTC Nexus 9 arrived in a spanking-new Lollipop-shaped cradle, giving Google a chance to reaffirm that, hey, you want to own an Android tablet. But things didn’t quite work out that way. The Lollipop OS update wasn’t the problem; rather, Nexus 9’s mix of high price, unremarkable hardware, and so-so performance added up to something decidedly less than a “statement” device like in Nexus models past, and hopes for Android’s iPad killer faded quickly.
Specs at a glance: Nvidia Shield Tablet
1920×1200 8" (281 PPI) IPS LCD
Android 5.0 Lollipop
Tegra K1 quad-core 2.2GHz Cortex-A15
Nvidia 192-core Kepler
16GB or 32GB (plus up to 128GB micro-SD card)
802.11n 2x2 Mimo 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, optional LTE (Bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 17)
Micro-USB, headphone, micro
5MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
8.8" × 5" × 0.36" (221 x 126 x 9.1 mm)
13.7 oz. (390 g)
19.75 Wh (non-removable)
Since then, Lollipop has spread pretty far and wide on newer hardware models, but one of the very first to get the official OS upgrade treatment was an unexpected choice: the Nvidia Shield Tablet.
This gaming-first device got lost in the 2014 tablet shuffle, which we blame on a few factors. For one, Android has yet to prove itself as a hardcore gaming OS, as evidenced by underwhelming micro-consoles like the Ouya and Amazon Fire, so its allure as a gaming device didn’t catch fire. Worse, Nvidia’s device suffered delays, and it shared its name with last year’s bulky, cheap-feeling, and disappointing Nvidia Shield Portable.