Should you buy the NVIDIA Shield?

Resoundingly, no. $350 is way too expensive for a dedicated device that runs games your cell phone can likely already run. But of all the Android based devices making the rounds (see Ouya and GameStick) this one intrigues me the most. Here’s why:

Here it is. Sexy? No. Familiar? Yup.

Power: NVIDIA Shield boasts the Tegra 4 processor, arguably the fastest mobile processor in the world. This thing has the balls to play lots of shitty but graphically intensive games, not just what’s available on Android already. It out powers the Ouya by quite a bit and the GameStick by even more.

Streaming: Stream certain games playable on your PC straight to your Shield via local WiFi. Unfortunately this feature requires a certain GPU (GTX 650 or better) to function and only works with certain games, but it is the most compelling part of the whole package if playing your PC games from your couch, bed or the loo excites you. Skyrim from the pool deck excites me.

Mobility: The NVIDIA Shield is a handheld device. The hardware, controller and output screen are all part of the same brick. Meanwhile, the Ouya, though small, is a console and not portable and the GameStick is essentially a thumb drive requiring an external video display and controller.

The brand: I’m not sure how among the collective “meh” surrounding the Shield not a single argument for the device is based simply on the fact that it is made by NVIDIA. You know, the manufacturer of the (sorry Radeon fans) premier line of gaming GPUs? The same NVIDIA with relationships and channels throughout the industry. Surely that counts for something.

If you have the clink, curiosity and time to spare, buy the most powerful, convenient and familiarly branded device of the three. If you’re saying to yourself, “gosh I’d like to play some Android games but I can only afford the $79 dollar GameStick” then seriously, don’t buy any of them. Save for a Vita, 3DS or hell, even a Wii U if you don’t own any of those already before you waste your money on a dedicated cell phone games device.

If developers discover a market for these devices and start to make some worthwhile games, then make the plunge.

Besides, is anyone really going to be sitting in front of the TV playing Android games when the PS4 and new Xbox are right around the corner?

NVIDIA’s Shield is available the end of June at a $350 price tag.