The Frankenstein-like NVIDIA Shield, the handheld games console whose size and weight (1.5 pounds!) makes it seem like something invented in the 1990s, has been given the tear-down treatment by ifixit.

One thing is for sure—with its shields disabled, this device looks nothing like any tablet we’ve ever taken apart … or game console … or anything

Teardown photos and review roundup below the fold … 

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The flick of a spudger and a few connectors are all that you need for button panel assembly disassembly.

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We love the modularity of this design. Just in case the button mashing gets out of control, we are happy to know that the button board can be replaced separately from other components.

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With the motherboard finally free and de-shielded, we get a look at the notable players:

  • Nvidia Tegra 4 Quad Core Mobile Processor
  • Samsung KLMAG2GE2A memory eMMC
  • AzureWave AW-AH691 wireless module
  • SK Hynix H5TC4G63AFR 512 MB DDR3 SDRAM (4 ICs for 2 GB total RAM)
  • InvenSense MPU-6050 6-axis gyroscope and accelerometer
  • Realtek AL5639 (probably similar to AL5634) audio microcontroller

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Check out the rest of the tear-down here.

So what are reviewers making of it? The consensus view seems to be that it’s a great device but with a fairly narrow appeal, and you may want to hold fire for a time to see what happens …

Engadget says it’s no Playstation Vita, but the streaming and tablet functionality make it worthy of recommendation:

At $300, NVIDIA Shield is a hard sell as a portable game console, but an easy sell in place of a similarly priced tablet. Sure, it doesn’t have a camera, but it does offer extremely impressive PC streaming, along with wide viewing angles. The Shield remains a “truly strange device,” but it’s one that we feel comfortable recommending to hardcore PC gamers and Netflix junkies alike.

PCmag summed it up as “a great device very few people need”:

If the Shield was $100 cheaper, or could function as its own phablet without the bulky gamepad, it would be a shoo-in for Editors’ Choice and likely a slightly higher score. It’s a fantastic product when considered on its own merits, but one that’s too pricey and limited when compared with other gaming handhelds. As higher quality games appear on the Google Play store, more gaming systems use Kepler GPUs, and Nvidia (hopefully) adds notebook support, it could become a much more useful device. As it stands now, though, you need to approach the Shield with some very specific expectations—and, if you want to use PC game streaming, very specific equipment. It’s an incredibly impressive gaming handheld, but it’s boxed in from both sides by more economical and games-rich dedicated gaming handhelds and more flexible Android tablets. This is a great device very few people need.

The Verge takes a similar line, giving it 7.8 out of ten, but not necessarily urging you to rush out and buy one:

The Shield is a capable device for $299, but honestly the $229 Nexus 7 is a better short-term bet. You’ll even have $70 left over to buy yourself a PlayStation 3 controller and a pairing app, or to save towards the next Shield, which will come with an even more capable Tegra chip. You might also consider a 32GB iPod touch for the same $299, or an iPad mini for $30 more. They don’t have the same graphical potency, but they fit in pockets, come with cameras, and have Apple’s incredible app ecosystem waiting for your credit card.

Yet if you have the right graphics card and the right Wi-Fi router – or hundreds of dollars burning a hole in your pants – the Shield’s PC streaming is not to be missed. The killer app for Shield is already here. It’s called Steam, and when it works, it’s glorious.

Android Police also urges a wait-and-see approach:

Should you buy SHIELD? Well, the technical specifications are top-of-the-line, the fit and finish is incredibly solid, and its primary selling point – the physical control pad – is basically perfect. From the perspective of a hardware junky, it’s a dream come true. The question is whether you’d use it as a gaming device, and use it often enough to justify a $300 purchase.

A few hardware deficiencies like the lack of a camera or vibration motor are as nothing next to the ergonomic and platform problems of a truly portable Android game console. At the moment, you’re making a big wager on whether NVIDIA and its developers can keep up the steam that’s been generated for the initial launch. I really do hope that “SHIELD Controller Support” becomes a common theme among the biggest and best of Android games. But for the time being, the prudent consumer should probably wait it out – gaming history is littered with portable consoles that claimed to change the game, and only sat on the sidelines.

Slashgear has no doubts, however:

Deciding to engage with NVIDIA SHIELD will be less like purchasing an everyday smartphone or tablet than it will be like picking up the sole hero device sold by a company that up until now – for several years at least – has been building a software and hardware ecosystem to support it. This is a moment in NVIDIA’s history you’ll want to be a part of.

While the cautionary stance makes sense to us, we suspect that hardcore gamers may have a different view.

Image: Fox Network

Image: Fox Network

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