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Nvidia may be quietly building a transforming Shield Tablet

Nvidia may be quietly building a transforming Shield Tablet

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‘Mystique’ has desktop and tablet modes

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Nvidia’s last tablet was the Shield K1, released in 2015.
Nvidia’s last tablet was the Shield K1, released in 2015.
Image by Sam Byford / The Verge

Code found in Nvidia’s Shield Experience software suggests that the company is working on a 2-in-1 hybrid device that’s able to work as both a laptop and a tablet. The code, which was spotted by XDA-Developers, includes a new piece of software that’s capable of switching between three UI modes, including desktop, tablet, and a mysterious third mode called “dynamic.” It includes an option to start desktop mode if a keyboard is attached to the device.

The findings suggest that Nvidia is working on software for a new tablet, referred to by the codename “Mystique,” which can operate as a laptop if you attach a keyboard, similar to last year’s Google Pixel Slate. Nvidia’s last tablet was the Nvidia Shield K1, which was released in 2015. A revamped Shield Portable that was reportedly planned for the following year was later canceled.

The device could have a 13.5-inch 3000 x 2000 display

The code was found in Nvidia’s Shield Experience software, which runs across both the company’s tablets and set-top boxes. Due to the age of the existing Nvidia Shield Tablet, a tablet-specific build of the software hasn’t been released since March 2018, but development has continued for Nvidia’s Shield set-top boxes. The UI-switching software first appeared in Nvidia Shield Experience in December 2018.

The rumored specs of the new 2-in-1 tablet are intriguing, although XDA-Developers notes that they may be outdated since they come from source code that dates back to last year. If they’re accurate, then the tablet could have a 13.5-inch 3000 x 2000 display. That’s big for a standalone tablet, but it makes more sense for a 2-in-1 device.

The original Shield Tablet ran on Nvidia’s Tegra X1 mobile processor, which the Nintendo Switch still uses. Initially, Nvidia’s code suggested that the new tablet would use its mobile successor, the Tegra X2. However, more recent code suggests that the tablet is now under development with the Tegra Xavier, a chip that’s meant for autonomous vehicles and AI computing. XDA speculates that the chip could be run in a low-power mode to allow it to run in a battery-powered tablet.

In response to the report, Nvidia referred to a previous statement in which it said that it was common for codenames to be referenced in code, only for the products concepts to never make it to market. It also pointed toward comments made by its CEO, Jensen Huang, in which he suggested that the company would only reenter the mobile device market if it could create “things that the world doesn’t have.” Depending on your view, a viable Android 2-in-1 could be exactly that.