Nvidia Shield Tablet Gets Grid Cloud Gaming, Lollipop

Tom's Guide / Sherri L. Smith
Nvidia Shield Tablet Gets Grid Cloud Gaming, Lollipop

Looks like Nvidia's got a sweet tooth. Sometime in November, the company's gaming-centric Shield Tablet will be upgraded to Android 5.0 (Lollipop). But that’s not the biggest news. The new Grid gaming service is coming out of beta, which will let you play top-tier titles like Batman: Arkham City and Borderlands 2 on the go at a smooth 60 frames per second.

Described as "Netflix for Games," Grid will stream games to your device without having to install the title on your device and take up precious storage space. Best of all, the games will stream at PC-level quality. During a hands-on demo, Nvidia pitted Grid against PlayStation Now – and it wasn’t even close.

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I watched the Grid system load Dead Island in approximately 20 seconds, 15 seconds faster than PlayStation's device. The differences became even more evident once both games loaded. Although both services stream their titles in 720p, Grid delivered better visual quality, complete with smoother textures and water physics. When I did a 360-degree turn on both systems, I could see the image tearing on the PS Now version of the game as the anti-aliasing tried to compensate.

Grid is coming out of beta this month and will be free for all Shield Portable and Tablet owners until June 30, 2015.  When Grid launches, it will feature 20 AAA titles, including Darksiders 2, Saints Row, Borderlands 2, Psychonauts and Batman: Arkham City. Although PlayStation Now currently features approximately 100 titles, Nvidia is planning to launch more games in the coming months.

If that isn't enough gaming for your Android tablet, Nvidia is releasing its Green Box bundle. Playing heavily off of Valve's award-winning Orange Box bundle, the Green Box features critical darling Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One and Portal. Those who purchase the 32GB 4G LTE version of the tablet will receive the Green Box for free.

The company has yet to announce pricing for the bundle for current Shield owners. In addition to the Green Box, gamers will have three new Shield-optimized titles to play: Oddworld Stranger's Wrath, Pure Pool and Strike Zone Zero.

Shield Hub, Nvidia's gaming aggregator, is also getting a makeover. Now players will have an easier time finding Shield-optimized games, as well as titles compatible Nvidia's cloud gaming service.

In addition to the new Material Design that comes with Android 5.0, Nvidia is also updating Dabbler, its proprietary drawing and painting app to version 2.0. Taking inspiration from Android 5.0's new pen and paper-like design, Dabbler 2.0 now supports full layers, granting artists even more power to create their digital masterpieces. And for those willing to unleash their inner Bob Ross, Dabbler 2.0 will support livestreaming via Twitch.
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