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In July of last year NVIDIA launched the Shield Tablet, which took over from the ho-hum Tegra Note 7 and was really one of the best mid-sized tablets available through that year and into 2015. It had a super-powerful processor, solid screen, good battery life and exceptional gaming chops — but you had to be committed to buying it with its accessories for a total of $400 to get the best experience. Still, I used it as my main tablet (the LTE model, actually) and recommended it to others.

Rather than tear it all down and start from scratch 16 months after the launch of the original Shield Tablet, NVIDIA is releasing a refreshed model simply called the Shield Tablet K1. It has the same specs, screen and performance as the original, but now with a few tweaks in the hardware and a notable reduction in price to $199.

Read on for our impressions of the new version.

Shield Tablet K1

Shield Tablet K1 Hardware

Saying that nothing has changed externally between the original Shield Tablet and the new Tablet K1 isn't entirely true, but it's pretty darn close. the 8-inch screen is surrounded by the same basic design, with a plastic exterior coated in soft touch material wrapping the entire outside of the tablet. You'll still find big front-facing speakers on the shorter ends, ported out the sides where you'll find the necessary ports — USB, HDMI, SD card and headphones — and buttons.

A few cosmetic changes made, but there wasn't much to complain about here before.

There are just three visible changes between the generations, and they're small ones. The front-facing speakers are now surrounded by a different matte soft touch material instead of glossy hard plastic, and that same hard plastic on the original that stretched around the top edges around the display is also gone. Those changes make the tablet a bit softer in your hands all around, and will surely be less prone to scratching and cracking over time like the glossy hard plastic was. The third difference? There's no longer a slot for a stylus, which coincides with the Shield Tablet K1 no longer shipping with one. Though you can buy one separately for $20 (14.99£ / 19,99€), if you wish.

And I'm totally OK with nothing really changing on the Shield Tablet K1. I never had an issue with the design aside from the somewhat-cheap looking glossy plastic bits, and the addition of more soft touch plastic makes it even easier to hold in landscape mode. My gripes on the original of the power and volume buttons being too flush to the side still remain, but I can live with that if it's the biggest complaint I can make.

On the inside, things haven't changed at all. We're looking at the same computing platform all around — a Tegra K1 processor with its 192-core GPU, 2GB of RAM and a base 16GB of storage that's expandable by SD card. Having just 2GB of RAM in 2015 is starting to be a bit on the low side, but there's nothing dated about the capabilities of this processor. And when we're talking about just a 1920x1200 display instead of the higher-end QHD panels in other tablets, it's hard to argue with keeping with the solid formula.

That 8-inch 1920x1200 display seems to be identical to the one found on the first Shield Tablet to my eyes, which is to say it's squarely in the "more than good enough" range. It doesn't get amazingly bright for use outside in the direct sun, but for every other task it performs admirably. And although the Shield Tablet K1 no longer has a stylus built in, the display and tablet software still support all of the stylus' capabilities if you choose to buy one separately.

Shield Tablet K1

Shield Tablet K1 Software and experience

NVIDIA does a great job of shipping its devices with a very stock-like experience, and what you get on the Shield Tablet K1 is exactly where we left off with the original Shield Tablet. This is Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with very few visual changes — stock Google apps are installed, and NVIDIA includes very few of its own.

NVIDIA doesn't change much visually in the software, and adds some great features.

The big changes you'll notice in the software are inclusions for NVIDIA's Shield Controller, the Shield Hub for games and content, and Twitch for live streaming directly to the service. Oddly the Dabbler app — geared toward use with a stylus — is still included, but you can disable it if you'd like.

Performance-wise, the Shield Tablet K1 flies just like the original does. After a bit of a hiccup with the Android 5.0 release on the Shield Tablet the subsequent 5.1.1 update smoothed things out considerably, and I'm seeing the same now on the Shield Tablet K1. Just as I explained back then the Shield Tablet K1 can handle all of your daily tablet tasks like media consumption and some social networking, while also kicking it up for heavy games when you need it. That includes both local Android gaming with Shield-only titles, but also GeForce Now game streaming from the cloud provided you have a good internet connection for the $7.99 per month service.

NVIDIA says Marshmallow is on the horizon for the Shield Tablet K1, as you'd expect, but given how well this tablet performs I can't be too disappointed with Lollipop shipping out of the box. Historically NVIDIA has handled updates pretty well, and I have no reason to believe Marshmallow will be any different.

Shield Tablet and Tablet K1

What you don't get

So NVIDIA managed to save some money here by re-releasing much the same hardware and internals in the Shield Tablet K1 as the previous Shield Tablet, but that doesn't explain the entire $100 price drop. Other corners were also cut here to keep the price down.

Not including a charger rubs me the wrong way, but the price drop had to come from something.

Beyond the aforementioned omission of the stylus (which I doubt many bought the Shield Tablet for), the Tablet K1 doesn't actually ship with a power brick or USB cable. Of course the tablet comes charged out of the box, but you'll have to repurpose an old charger to get this tablet juiced back up — and if all you have is a phone charger that may be a slow proess. That's really rubbing me the wrong way, no matter how much I know that most tablet buyers (especially those buying a Shield Tablet) likely already have a charger at home. Of course NVIDIA is selling its versatile world charger pack for $29 (17.99£ / 24,99€), but you can probably do better for less with a name brand one from Amazon.

NVIDIA has also streamlined the SKUs available for the Shield Tablet K1. You can only get it with 16GB of internal storage, of course with an SD card slot providing up to 128GB more, but there isn't an LTE version or one with more internal storage if you want to buy it. At release there aren't any sort of bundles, either — you'll buy each piece as you want it.

Shield Tablet K1 and accessories

A new value proposition

After reviewing the original Shield Tablet (and again looking at it when the LTE model launched), I didn't have many complaints even when the retail price was $299. Now just a year later the tablet itself has stayed nearly the same, but the price has dropped to an absolutely fantastic $199. Sure you don't get a stylus or charger in the box, but the $100 savings very importantly open up some money for you to buy the $39 Shield Tablet Cover and $59 Shield Controller — both of which are almost required if you want the best gaming experience.

If you plan on gaming with a tablet — especially on the go — it's hard to go wrong with the Shield Tablet K1, especially now that you can get the accessories that make the gaming experience so great without going over the starting price of the original version of the tablet. And for those who have less-intense tasks and just want a mid-sized tablet at a solid price, the Shield Tablet K1 can also be on your list.

You're getting a lot for $199 here, and it's great to see.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • It seems to me that this is the world's best value tablet. Seriously though, hardware like that for 199USD is pretty awesome. Hats off to Nvidia for that one Sony Xperia Z2
    Nvidia Shield
    Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
  • Considering what an overpriced dud the Nexus 9 is, I would have to agree with you. That being said, BEZELS.
  • ...Are for ease of holding when gaming.
  • What about battery life? Has it improved? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Identical hardware. Sony Xperia Z2
    Nvidia Shield
    Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
  • Identical to the previous version, so solid battery life.
  • Solid compared to N7 ? via AC App on
    VZW Moto X DE/N7
  • Yes...they fixed their battery issues. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If that's the case I will be looking at this as my next tablet.
  • Come to think of it, this is cheaper than many smartwatches o_o Sony Xperia Z2
    Nvidia Shield
    Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
  • That's a bloody steal if you ask me!
  • Anyone got a link to the k1 version. Amazon UK link. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ummm 16GB gaming tablet? That tablet can handle only a handful of serious games. That's IT.
  • You can slap a MicroSD in there and almost all games I've ever tried on it allow a move to the SD Card - and with Marshmallow, it'll be even more of a non-issue. Just make sure to get a fast one. ;)
  • Not sure what storage size, especially you can add your own storage, has to do with gaming, especially with Android M around the corner. This tablet can handle "serious" games better than any other (mainstream, at least) Android tablet out there.
  • Add in the streaming features that Nvidia has built into their desktop GPU's and it opens options no other tablet has.
  • Because the most high-performance games on Android (especially Tegra-exclusive games) will often take a few gigabytes each to install. But I imagine that offloading all other media files to SD storage would leave you with enough room to get quite a few games installed. If not, the worst case scenario is that you install the games to SD storage, which is not the end of the world and will be much better when Marshmallow hits this thing soon. All in all it's not that big a deal.
  • This is actually quite awesome. The Shield Tablet had a few rough spots throughout it's life (Android 5.0 in particular performed pretty abysmally and we all know the problems with the Battery) but Nvidia where always committed to fixing those things - be it by replacing the Tablets affected by the bad battery or releasing updates for the Tablet in a very timely manner. When the Tablet had a small color temperature bug, they not only quickly released a fix for it, but also included an App in the settings so the users could adjust the color temperature manually themselves. Good stuff! It took a while, but the original Nvidia Shield Tablet is an awesome device and this one seems to carry on the same level of awesome. I still love mine and I can't really say I feel any noticeable difference in performance between the 2 GB Shield Tablet and the 3GB OnePlus One. I probably have more stuff running in the background on the OnePlus One, but the shield is just buttery smooth when it comes to browsing, UI, Gaming and all the other stuff. Cameras are of course nothing to write home about, but serviceable for a Skype call, and the Power Button being so tiny and hard to hit is also one of the few small gripes I have. This could be easily solved by adding double-tap to wake, and with the Nexus 9 having it and using a very similar processor, it's a bit baffling to me why the Shield Tablet can't do it. All that said - for 199? Dang, that's a lot of great Tablet you get for very little Money,
  • Seems way better than the Asus MeMo Pad 8 I bought for nearly the same price, which is basically worthless because of the junk Asus bloatware that causes dozens of updates every time I start it up. It also is incredibly slow, even for browsing. I like to use a tablet while watching TV, especially with the cat on my lap! So, I took a chance and I just placed an order for a K1, i bet it will sellout pretty quick. Of course, now that i just ordered it at list price, the price will probably drop by half for holiday sales!
  • I agree. I got my Memo Pad last holiday for 150 at bestbuy. It's a nice tablet but it doesn't do the two things I need it to do. One is Plex. The device will freeze during movies/tv shows and needs a hard reboot. The same is with Netfilx, but not as often. I will be getting the Shield. Glad to know other people are having issues with the memopad 7 and not just me.
  • My Nvidia Shield Tablet is awesome! It was replaced for the battery issue, but the performance and updates from Nvidia make this a great deal!!
  • This is your Nexus 8 tablet right here. Almost. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I still don't understand why they haven't made a Shield Phone..? It's no Brainer and put it we Nexus 5 price
  • They manufacture their own SOC. The K1 would be horrible in a cellphone its to power hungry. They won't engineer their own lower power SOC to sell at a cheap price. The shield is a gateway to their Geforce Now Service and their own game store.
  • They tried doing phones with Tegra chips before and just couldn't get the modem side of things figured out. Even the last Shield Tablet LTE model had really crappy radios in it. That stuff is hard, and NVIDIA probably doesn't see a ton of return in it given how much work it'd take.
  • I have the LTE Shield tablet with T-Mobile service. On the same spot comparing the d/l speed with a nexus 5, I get around 60% to 70% of the speed on the Shield, compared to the Nexus 5.
  • Yeah Ok...Like the Tegra 3 One X right? I heard it was horrible.
  • It really was. I was so hyped up for it and it was my first Android device after leaving the walled-garden that is iOS but it was a massive disappointment. Glad that I stuck with Android though!
  • This is the tablet I want to pay for, but I was just looking at the new Sony z4 tablet yesterday. I really like the idea of using my Playstation with it. I wish Sony would just release remote play to the android masses. If the Z3 Tablet Compact was 300/350 wifi/LTE I would be all over it.
  • Yeah but the Sony Z4 Tablet and the Z3 Tablet Compact are just so expensive for what they give you.
  • But the Z3 Tablet Compact is so nice (totally not biased or anything lol). Apart from being really thin, it's also unbelievably light weight. Like seriously, it's crazy.
    As for PS4 remote play, I've tried it on both my phone (Xperia Z2) AND tablet (Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact) and it's laggy as shit. We've got a terrible router and my ps4 is literally up stairs in the opposite corner of the house so that's probably the main problem, but you also can't connect directly to the PS4 like you can with the PS Vita so that doesn't help either. You'll need a very good router that's not too far away for it to work well. All in all its a bit of a gimmick if I'm to be honest. The novelty of playing a console game like that on your phone/tablet wears off after a while and it's just a better experience to sit in front of the TV and play it normally. Sony Xperia Z2
    Nvidia Shield
    Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
  • Is there a provision to put stylus like in the previous model ??
  • No, the storage port for the stylus is gone.
  • I think the official cover has a slot for it not to mention other third party cases.
  • Andrew, how does this compare with the new Asus Zenpad S 8, not the $199 version but the $299 version? Specwise it appears the Zenpad is much better, but how do they compare in performance? I see that the chips are completely different. Would anyone else recommend the Zenpad over this new k1 tab? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not sure about th e $299 Zenpad, but I'd certainly recommend the $199 Zenpad over the Shield. The Zenpad is a more compact, with better specs across the board, except for maybe the GPU. The Shield looks like a hideous engineering sample -- thick and heavy. If you're getting it for gaming and watching movies, maybe the 16:10 screen and GPU make the Nvidia worth a look, but for everything else the Zenpad is way better (if you can get past the bloatware).
  • I know benchmarks aren't everything, but compare the Zenpad and the Shield K1 in a benchmark and the Sheild will blitz it.
    I have an original Shield (not the tablet, the one called the shield portable) and in Antutu at least it's still up there with the best, and it's only got a Tegra 4. Sony Xperia Z2
    Nvidia Shield
    Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
  • Andrew I'm looking to get this to replace my nexus 7 (2013). Got a few questions, how's the screen compared to the nexus 7 and also is the battery better any than the nexus 7. Finally how are those speakers and where can I get one in the UK. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Screen is at least comparable to the Nexus 7 2013, and the speakers are better simply because they are front-facing. Should be several UK retailers available. You can at least buy it from NVIDIA directly — check Amazon too.
  • This "new" version doesn't seem to be available in UK so far. Have checked amazon etc. Last question regarding battery, how is it? . Nexus 7 is already mediocre so don't want to get something that is worse so I'm hoping this atleast matches at the minimum... Update found it on nvidia site for £149. Posted via the Android Central App
  • WiFi performance any better on this model? AC support? I think what a lot of people miss with this tablet is Gamestream, which if you've got a good network, is pretty incredible. And even though GeForce Now is still in its infancy, it has a ton of potential. Not an upgrade over the original Shield I own of course, but I'd be interested in the next generation model for sure. Hopefully when that time comes, they reintroduce the LTE sku with better radios that support T-Mobile. And for God's sake nVidia, never partner with ATT again. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have the original Shield Tablet with T-Moblle service. Yours doesn't connect? It came with an ATT SIM, but it's unlocked. I popped a new SIM and have had service since I bought it in November of last year.
  • This is a good deal. A better deal, though, was buying the same tablet with the same specs 16 months ago for $100 more and getting a charger and awesome stylus and, um, 16 extra months of use out of it. Especially because it was replaced with a brand new one due to the battery recall several months ago. So I'm happy I was in the market for a tablet in the summer of 2014. :)
  • Any light bleed on the LCD screen? That's the only thing I don't like about the Nexus 9. Can't seem to get one without any. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yup, my N9 is the same. Posted via the Android Central App
  • no, you're wrong. I have a nvidia LTE tablet and it's been a horrible experience and I still hate to use it.
    And I'm not the only one, just read the tablets forum.
    the only positive thing about this, is that nvidia apparently is committing to marshmallow which may help the tablets performance.
  • I've had the past two N7s and have been wanting to get a new tablet so this offering couldn't have come at a better time. Just ordered one from Amazon and will have it in hand on Friday. Posted via the Android Central App
  • ePicness ...
  • That is an amazing deal! I have my 32gb LTE version (which was replaced due to the battery disaster), and recently also purchased the Nvidia shield console and I'm having so much fun with both devices!!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Does anyone know if the game Dominations works on this tablet? I know it doesn't work on intel based tablets.
  • Nice !!! Tempting price
  • Was looking for a refresh of the nexus 7, but this tablet looks like it will be my next buy. Nice specs, and solid price. Plus it seems one of the few tablets that OEM's actually are supporting with updates.
  • This is too little of an iterative upgrade from the 2013 N7 so I'm going to hold off as long as I can in the hopes of a more substantially upgraded 7-8" Nexus tablet in 2016 (that doesn't suck like the N9)
  • I'll wait on purchasing this as well. It screams "quiet before the storm", in that I have a feeling they will launch a newer tablet with competing system specs (more internal storage, newer processor, etc.). As it stands, this release seems more like a clearing of the old warehouse inventory, with the addition of a new case and badge..
  • Love my original shield tablet and won't be upgrading. Maybe i am in a minority but I use the stylus a lot in meetings to take notes in Evernote, the handwriting recognition on this is awesome (and I go back to the Newton days). As I'd be losing a major feature I use, think I'll skip this one
  • I love the stylus. I use it to draw and quickly up ideas for folks that are myself.
  • Does anyone know when this will be coming to Canada? All of the links are to American retailers and BestBuy's Canadian website doesn't have it listed anywhere.
  • "Beyond the aforementioned omission of the stylus (which I doubt many bought the Shield Tablet for)" I did. And I'm sure more did than you anticipate. It was part of the package, even if it wasn't a priority feature. Still an awesome tablet, but feels more like an attempt to move old stock than anything else.
  • Does the K1 have all the stylus software support like the original? Like in this video?