Next Nvidia Shield Tablet could be a 2-in-1

Nvidia Shield Tablet
Image credit: TechRadar

Nvidia might be working on an updated Nvidia Shield Tablet - and it may be a 2-in-1 device able to switch into laptop and desktop modes, according to code XDA Developers found in the latest build of the Shield Experience software.

That software powers Nvidia’s Shield TV set-top boxes, and the newest version indicates an as-yet unseen feature called “NvDtExp,” which XDA Developers theorizes is Nvidia Desktop Experience. It first appeared in Shield Experience builds back in December 2018, and has only just been noticed.

Given that the company hasn’t updated the software for any of its now-discontinued tablets in a year (if not more), and that other code references a product code-named “Mystique,” the publication inferred that “Mystique” is a new tablet in development - one built to harness this feature. The feature seems to switch between three different UI modes: Dynamic, Tablet and Desktop. 

While XDA Developers couldn’t explore the Desktop Experience and switch between the modes - its code allegedly checks whether the device used is a “Mystique” - they did see mention of start menu visibility and ‘mouse hover control’ for desktop UI, suggesting a more traditional windowed look while in ‘Desktop’ mode. ‘Dynamic’ may logically be a hybrid between ‘Tablet’ and ‘Desktop’ UI layouts.

The code also suggested that “Mystique” would auto-switch to ‘Desktop’ if a keyboard was plugged in. 

 A new product...or a bygone idea 

“Mystique” would be Nvidia’s first new device other than its Shield set-top boxes since the company discontinued its Shield portable, tablet and Tegra Note 7. 

While XDA admits that the product hints in the Shield TV builds may be outdated, it does provide some clues: source code from last year suggests “Mystique” has a 13.5-inch (3,000x2,000) LCD display. This is pretty large for a tablet (the largest iPad is 12.9 inches), which leads XDA to believe it’s more likely a 2-in-1 device.

Further, while the original Shield Tablet used Nvidia’s Tegra X1 chip, which also powers the Nintendo Switch, the “Mystique” might use the more advanced Tegra X2 - or, as more recent code implies, the Tegra Xaviar processor that Nvidia is developing for autonomous vehicles and AI computing.

Whether it’s actually in development - well, we’ll have to wait and see. Nvidia declined to comment to XDA on “Mystique” or the Desktop Experience code, instead opting for a boilerplate statement. The publication reprinted a statement they’d received after uncovering code referring to a possible new remote and gamepad for the Shield TV back in March. It read: 

“It's fairly standard practice for various concept codenames to appear in codebases. Those references remain even when it becomes unlikely that the concept ever goes into production. We can't comment on which codenames refer to product concepts that are active vs which ones are inactive, as it can be fluid. However, I can confirm that none of the codenames below refer to products that have launched publicly."

  • "Mystique" may not see the light of day - but here's a list of the best tablets out now
David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.