Sunday, April 14, 2024

GeForce NOW First Impressions

I believe that I mentioned getting a new tablet in a previous post. I had owned a very inexpensive ten inch tablet exclusively for reading RPG PDF documents (and comic books.) A while back, I dropped the tablet and it broke. I was going to replace the tablet with an identical one, but the version that I had was no longer available. 

I decided to splurge a little and I picked out an affordable tablet from 2023. Not the newest, but much newer than, say, my laptop that I bought in 2015. I looked for a protective cover to purchase along with the tablet and found one with a built-in keyboard and touch-pad.

I really love the new tablet. With the physical keyboard I am able to do all the writing that I want to do, and I have pretty much abandoned my laptop. The only thing that I have missed is Steam. Steam being the computer gaming service that contains many years of computer game purchases. 

Steam has a service called Steam-Link that lets me stream game play of the games from my Steam Library to my tablet. In this instance the games are installed and being played by my 9 year-old laptop. I'm just controlling that play and seeing the results on my tablet. 

The performance of the Steam-Link is spotty. I'm sure that if I had a better laptop this wouldn't be an issue. But, I don't, and I was kind of imagining a world where my new tablet might replace my laptop altogether. With the Steam-Link my laptop is still required. Enter NVIDIA GeForce NOW.

This is a first impressions review of the NVIDIA GeForce NOW video game streaming service. This service and others like it provide the hardware to play the games that you want to play and then stream the output and the control of the game to you on whatever screen device you happen to be using. It's like having my laptop run the game, but instead it's being done by a super gaming rig that I could never afford. 

Many of these services cost a monthly fee and provide a whole library of current video and computer games that you can play for free as long as you're paying your monthly fee. NOW is a little different. You have to buy the games in order to play them, but the streaming service itself offers a free option. The best part here is that you can link NOW to your Steam Library and play many of those games that you already own.

This is exactly what I was looking for. It's not perfect. The free service is ad driven. You go into a queue to wait for an available rig, and you watch ads while you wait. Once you connect to your game, you're good to go. Not all of the games in my library exist on the NVIDIA GeForce servers, but many do. Fifty-five games to be exact are available from my Steam Library for me to play on my tablet. That's pretty cool. I've never had 50+ games installed at one time on my laptop. 

I've tested a few games and they work great. The performance is far better than I was getting with Steam-Link with my laptop. While I do lose access to much of my Steam Library, I still own those games. I can go back to them at any time should I decide to return to my laptop or replace it. For now, I think that I have replaced my laptop with this … my new tablet. Time will tell. These are just first impressions after all. In a few weeks we will be traveling and I will have the opportunity to really put NOW to the test. I'll let you know how that goes.

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