Aside from getting bigger or cheaper, tablets haven't innovated a ton, recently. However, the Nvidia Shield, and now the Acer Predator 8 tablet, are still pushing boundaries. Officially available for pre-order today, the Predator 8 ($299) targets gamers offering an 8-inch, 1080p display and an Intel Atom processor. The company is also claiming the device is the loudest gaming tablet in the world.
Swathed in gray, black and a dash of red, the Android-powered Predator 8 certainly looks like a gaming device. Peacocking on overload, the tablet's design has plenty of interesting angles that scream edgy and playful. It makes the Shield tablet's demure, all-black, soft touch finish seem somewhat boring.Weighing 12.4 ounces, measuring 8.6 x 5 x 0.3-inches, the Predator 8 is lighter and slightly smaller than the Shield (13.7 ounces, 8.8 x 5.0 x 0.36 inches).
Acer added some rear-mounted grip pads for a more comfortable experience than on the Shield. There's also a pair of haptic motors on the Predator 8 that deliver vibrations to signal potential secrets in games or add some tactile dimension to explosions. That's a feature console gamers will appreciate, as it is reminiscent of the rumble mechanic found on most controllers.
The Shield's 2.2-GHz, quad-core Tegra K1 CPU with 2GB of RAM should have the edge over the Predator 8 (1.6-GHz Intel Atom x7-z8700 CPU with 2GB of RAM). If Acer had gone with one of Intel's Core M processors, I would predict Acer delivering the better performance. Also, I'm a little surprised at Acer's decision to go with 2GB of RAM, when most smartphones are shipping with 3GB.
In terms of display, the Predator offers an 8-inch, 1900 x 1200-pixel screen that boasts several profiles for optimized display and audio, based on the media you're experiencing. In our testing, the Shield's 1900 x 1200-pixel panel color reproduction capabilities fell below the Laptop Mag tablet average. However, the Nvidia device still managed to produce above-average color accuracy. I'm eager to see how the Predator 8 will perform during our tests.
Outfitted with four speakers, Acer's tablet is being touted as the loudest gaming tablet in the world. The Shield's pair of front-facing speakers put on quite the show during testing, but I'll reserve my judgement for our tests.
As nice as the Acer looks and (hopefully) sounds, the Nvidia Shield still seems like it's the superior gaming tablet. The Shield has a slew of Android games that have been optimized specifically for the device, including cult classics such as Portal and Half-Life 2. But the Shield doesn't just do Android games, it can also stream PC games in those cases you don't feel like camping out in front of the old desktop. If you spring for Nvidia's controller, you can map every button to match just about any scenario on almost any title.
The Shield still offers one of the best stylus experiences you can find on a tablet, complete with a slew of apps. The painter-focused Dabbler app remains a favorite, even though I wouldn't describe myself as an artist.
Long story short, the Predator 8 has the potential to be a great tablet. However it has a ways to go before it can take Nvidia's place at the top of the food chain.
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