Best known for designing graphics chips and mobile processors, Nvidia set out on a bold new course last summer with the release of its Android-powered Shield portable console. It was the first time Nvidia was responsible for the entire device rather than just its components, and was the product of an evolving design process that saw significant changes between the January announcement and July launch. Now, a year later, the Shield’s successor is approaching with the title of Nvidia Shield Tablet.
The Global Certification Forum (GCF) website has revealed the product name in a recent posting validating its wireless connectivity. In a related tweet, the GCF describes Nvidia’s new device as a "Notebook / Tablet," indicating that it’ll most likely come in a hybrid or convertible form. Given how much time and effort Nvidia has already invested in expanding the library of Android games compatible with the original Shield’s gamepad, it stands to reason that its successor would opt for hardware controls of some kind as well.
Earlier hints at the Shield Tablet’s existence have come from an FCC submission by Nvidia and the appearance of the product’s name on Nvidia’s website. While none of its specifications have yet been revealed, the Tegra K1 is the obvious chip to power this device and some recent benchmarking results for a 7.9-inch Nvidia tablet have added more circumstantial evidence. They point to a 2048 x 1536 screen resolution, Android 4.4 KitKat as the operating system, and 2GB of RAM alongside the quad-core K1 processor. Notably, when Nvidia first demonstrated the K1 to the world at CES in Las Vegas this January, it did so on prototype devices of roughly the same size as that expected of the Shield Tablet.
The proposed specs for the Shield Tablet are further corroborated by the Xiaomi Mi Pad, which has an identical 7.9-inch screen size and the same high resolution and K1 processor. Other than Nvidia's chip, those are also the same specs as on Apple's iPad mini with Retina display, putting the new Nvidia device up against some tough competition. The original Tegra maker's unique selling proposition, however, might be in the expected controller attachment that would work with the Shield Tablet to make it more akin to a portable console.