A couple of weeks ago, we took a quick look at the remote controls for the NVIDIA SHIELD and the Nexus Player. Of course, when it comes to Android TV, content watching is not the only feature on offer. The platform is quickly developing itself as a great option for those interested in gaming. As such, Android TV units typically come with their own gamepads too. As such, today we will take a quick look at NVIDIA's SHIELD Controller and the Asus Gamepad for the Nexus Player.
For the most part, the two pads are designed along a similar style. Therefore, both take from the gaming world and somewhat blend the look of the pads available for the likes of the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. In fact, there are clear design cues in place from the gaming giants. Both the Nexus and SHIELD pads utilize the YXBA button configuration from the Xbox while both also use the same design layout from the PlayStation with the D-pad to the left of the device, dual thumbsticks and the four-button layout on the right.
However, there are some notable differences between the design of the two. It seems NVIDIA have gone down the Xbox route and the Controller is much more bulkier than the Nexus option. While in contrast, the Nexus Gamepad looks to offer a sleeker and smaller pad. Although overall, its appearance is much more in line with the Xbox pad than the PlayStation one. With this in mind, which pad you will prefer will most probably depend on whether you come from an Xbox or PS background. There are some more subtle differences as well. For instance, the buttons on the SHIELD version are larger than they are on the Nexus option. While the thumbsticks on the SHIELD Controller are also more tactile when touching and provide a firmer action when directed.
This is probably where the two pads differ the most. The Nexus option does not really have any additional features on offer. It simply is just a gamepad. However, the SHIELD Controller has gone down a longer thought process with its design and as such, offers some really good additional features. The first one to note (and similar to the SHIELD Remote) is volume. Again volume is an issue which is persistent for Nexus Player owners as there is no way to control the volume on the Nexus Player from the standard Nexus controls. However, on the SHIELD option, there is volume up and down section at the bottom of the Controller. This is not as design-focused as it is on the SHIELD Remote but does provide a more than adequate way to control the volume. If you are using the Nexus Player, you will always have to have a remote control close by to adjust the volume
Likewise, and again taking cues from the likes of the PlayStation 4, the SHIELD Controller comes with a headphone port included. As such, you can simply plug in your headphones to the pad and game away all night. There is no option for this on the Nexus Player standard option.
Lastly, the Shield Controller provide one more worth knowing about feature. It offers the ability to take a screenshot. This is a feature which again is largely absent on the Nexus Player by default.
This aspect is largely identical to what was noted for the remote controls. The Nexus Player does have the longest charge however, that is purely due to the fact that it is battery operated. So the batteries are good to go for months and then you replace when needed. In contrast, the SHIELD Controller comes sporting a rechargeable battery built-in and like the SHIELD Remote, offers direct charging from the included microUSB charge point on the top of the pad. Average personal use seems close to a week in between charges.
That said one aspect the Nexus Player Gamepad has over the SHIELD Controller is that it is visually able to display the current state of the battery on the front of the pad. A small LED panel lets you know the current status of the batteries. This is not a feature on the SHIELD Controller. You can go into the Android TV settings on the SHIELD and check the current battery status, normally defined as Full, Good or Low, but there is no easy reach solution to knowing your current battery status.
In the remote battle, this was the clear defining point in favor of the Nexus Player as the remote control comes bundled with the Nexus Player. While for the SHIELD Remote was only available as an after purchase. With the gamepad's, the opposite is true. The Nexus Gamepad is only available separately and will cost you around $39.99. In contrast, the SHIELD Controller comes bundled into the package and is therefore, free. However, if you are after additional Controllers for the SHIELD, then they will set you back $59.99 each.
While the remote battle between the Nexus Player and SHIELD was much more straightforward (due to the clear premium design of the SHIELD Remote) this is not the case for the SHIELD Controller as the level of design is not as significantly different. However, as the SHIELD Controller is so much more feature heavy and comes free with the main unit, it does seem to tick all the right boxes for those more interested in the gaming side of Android TV.