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Powerful network service, but skip the hardware auditing geek

  • 7/10

    • 1 – Absolutely Hot Garbage
    • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
    • 3 – Strong Flawed Design
    • 4 – Some Pros, Lots of Disadvantages
    • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
    • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
    • 7 – Good but not the best in class
    • 8 – Fantastic with some footnotes
    • 9 – Close and take my money
    • ] 10 – Absolut Design Nirvana

  • Price: 35 / Month

      The Shadow service is available on a variety of platforms.

    Shadow wants to sell you a dream: A super-friendly, always connected computer that you can access anywhere and with any device. This computer is primarily intended for games, but because it runs Windows it can also do what a regular computer can do.

    Here's what we like

    • Full-power Windows machine
    • No software limitations
    • ] Fast-current performance on PC

    And what we don't

    • No game launch interface
    • Storage is a little small
    • Shadow Ghost is horrible

    And at a basic level, Shadow does it. The service works, and the experience is surprisingly good … as long as you access it from another computer. Move to a phone, tablet or even Shadows first batch of Ghost hardware, and things fall off fast. This does not mean that Shadow is not worth investigating, but it means that its appeal is limited to a very specific audience – and that much of that audience is likely to already have access to a gaming PC.

    Shadow is awesome. But it does not live up to its potential, and for many users that will mean it is not worth a fairly large $ 35 a month to access it.

    What you get with shadow

    So, a quick review of what Shadow is: It's a platform that lets you hire an advanced Windows machine, virtualized on Shadow servers and access from the remote from your Windows / MacOS / Linux computer, Android device or Shadow Ghost set-top box. The remote machine is fine-tuned to play PC games, with a powerful and dedicated NVIDIA GPU, a super-fast web connection in Shadows data center, all of which streams to you with up to 1440p (or 1080p for 144 Hz speed). [19659029] Shadow, run its remote computer interface in a window on the desktop. "width =" 2560 "height =" 1440 "data creditext =" Michael Crider "src =" / pagespeed_static / 1.JiBnMqyl6S.gif "onload =" pagespeed.lazyLoadImages.loadIfVisibleAndMaybeBeacon (this); "onerror =" this.onerror = null; pagespeed.lazyLoadImages.loadIfVisibleAndMaybeBeacon (this); "/>

    Shadow, run its remote PC interface in a window on the desktop Michael Crider

    It's a neat trick. There is actually already services like NVIDIA GameStream and Steam In-Home Streaming that do the same thing. The benefit of the Shadow setting is that it is in the cloud and available from anywhere with fast data connection, and it is also remotely handled for optimum stability and speed.

    If you want an advanced gaming PC without having to build it or buy it, or even store it in your home and pay extra electricity to run the case, this is e Good way to reach your goal. It is believed that one, you have a fast accurate connection to make the interface worth it (at least 25 Mbps) and you are willing to pay $ 35 per month to access the service.

      Shadow hardware runs like a mid-to-high-end Windows computer.
    Shadow hardware runs as a mid-to-high-end Windows computer. Michael Crider

    Some other technical details. There is basically no limit on the virtualized Windows machine, and you can install any software you want. Although you can't change hardware, it's pretty generous in terms of specifications. Your remote machine processor is an Intel Xeon E5-2678, with 12 GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GTX 1080 equivalent GPU (one of the fastest around but recently replaced by the new RTX models). The virtual storage is a bit tight at only 256 GB, but it's fast, and the data center's connection is so fast (700-800 Mbps when I tested it) that you can download even the biggest games with almost no delay.

    … and what not to do

    Unlike more profiled game streams from NVIDIA and Sony PlayStation, you won't get any games to go on your Shadow machine. It comes pre-loaded with gaming store clients such as Steam, Origin and Uplay, and is compatible with everything running on Windows, up to and including the latest titles. But you have to get the titles yourself, download and install them manually. This is an advantage if you already have a large library of PC games, but if not, look for some free stuff like Apex Legends.

    Another thing Shadow does not provide is a gaming management interface. The connection works more or less the same as a remote access system for computer: log into Shadows service, and you are presented with a standard Windows 10 desktop in full screen or window mode. Switching between these two is easy, but it is almost or less impossible to handle your Shadow computer without a mouse and keyboard ready to go.

      Shadow runs with a remote connection to my Xbox controller.
    Shadow runs with a remote connection to my Xbox controller. Michael Crider

    That's an important point. Stream your Steam library from your office to your living room TV, and you'll get a great picture mode, which is easy to navigate and even change with a controller. Something similar if less robust is true for GameStream and GeForce NOW on NVIDIA SHIELD, or PlayStation Now on any of its connected apps.

    In Shadow you get a computer, nothing more and nothing less. Just starting the programs without at least one mouse connected is a pain, which makes the service extremely difficult to use on anything that is not already a computer. It includes the Ghost set-top box … but more on the latter.

    The lack of an easy-to-navigate game starter for either cranes or control inputs is easily the biggest support of the service. Shadow sells itself from being available from phones and tablets. It's all over advertising, so the fact that it's harder to use from a phone than, says, Chrome Remote Desktop is pretty embarrassing. If the service was presented as just a powerful remote computer, it would be one thing. But this is supposed to be a gaming machine, available from anywhere … and access to the current games on anything but a personal computer is a headache.

    Who is shadow for?

    Shadow works best as a program such as super-cost a low-power laptop or desktop, for example, a MacBook Air or one of the small ThinkPad workstations. The interface, when in full-screen mode, cannot be distinguished from normal Windows.

    On my 100 Mbps connection, I was able to play fast games like Overwatch and Rocket League without any noticeable delay. My connection usually has about 20 milliseconds of ping, but the connection from Shadows data center to the multiplayer game server was virtually instant, so I couldn't find any additional teams.

      Shadow runs PC games with full power of 60 to 144 hz.
    Shadow runs PC games with full power of 60 to 144 Hz. Michael Crider

    It's also impressive visually: I usually use a GeForce GTX 1080 on the desktop and play DOOM (2016) at 1080p and 144Hz was almost exactly the same as playing it locally. The shadow can go up to 1440p, my screen's maximum resolution, but then it falls to "only" 60 Hertz. The colors mix a bit more, if you try on a slower Wi-Fi connection or while uploading or downloading in the background, but much less dramatic than when using something like Gamestream.

    It gives rise to your local hardware. Depending on the installation, you may not be able to take advantage of all the Shadow's bells and whistles, but some of it will not be available no matter what you do. You need a decent mouse, keyboard and gamepad to get the most out of your games, and a good, fast display (1080p at least 144 Hz if possible) also helps.

    But Shadow can't take advantage of more than one monitor at a time, at least in his current incarnation, and I've only ever received stereo sound from the service. Its accessory bridging system is a bit strange to install custom input settings on your local machine and allow Shadow to handle only standard drivers. But it handles controllers well, and I suspect that and most basic keyboards and mouse inputs will suffice for most gaming applications.

      The shadow settings are pretty sparse.
    The shadow settings are pretty sparse. Michael Crider

    And what if you don't play? I transferred my copy of Photoshop to the remote Shadow PC, and could use it just as I normally do. It seems like you can configure the remote installation Windows with all the programs and tweaks you like, as long as they don't need access to UEFI / BIOS or more complicated hardware like a capture card. It's just a shame that there's no built-in way to access Shadow from a Chromebook at the moment (the Android app is technically working, but it's less than perfect). I would be tempted to pay the monthly fee for that program alone.

    What about the shadow Ghost?

    Skip it.

    Unfortunately, it's a bit flippant … but Ghost is not a good product. After several hours of testing, I was often obsessed with connection problems, especially the failure of the streaming interface to recognize my mouse, keyboard or Xbox controller, sometimes several at the same time. Which is a big problem, because there is no way to intuitively use the external Windows machine without a regular mouse and keyboard.

      Shadow Ghosts back connections.
    Michael Crider

    It's a shocking failure. The Steam Link box (now discontinued) showed how to do it correctly years ago, and doesn't even need a mouse or keyboard to get it started. It doesn't help it, to finish the remote installation for Windows streaming and go back to Ghost's smallest install menu, you must physically press the button on the box … which makes it inexplicably cumbersome as a gadget that means you live under your TV.

      Shadow Ghost is a little bigger than a controller.
    Michael Crider

    Streaming of the games themselves was also much worse than on my full computer, even when I used a hard Ethernet cable for an ideal connection. Teams were minimal, but it seemed that Ghosten strictly limited streaming bitrate and resolution to achieve it. Between the input and connection problems and the very limited options for hardware settings, it's just not a good way to play games, PCs or anything else.


    Shadow is a platform that shows a lot of promises, but right now, the only people who are really interested in using their gaming features are mostly invested in their local machines. If Shadow can create a game browser and a set of tools to make the mobile or tablet more comfortable, it may be worthwhile.

    Right now, it is an interesting way to get lots of power from a low-power machine, provided you have a high-speed connection and a small disposable monthly income. The good news is that there is something quite low risk to try: if you live in one of the supported markets, try a month of Shadow for $ 35 on unlimited contractless machines. Just avoid the Ghost hardware unless its minimalist software gets much, much better. An alternative to paying more for more storage, RAM or a newer GPU would not hurt either.

    Rating: 7/10

    Price: 35 / Month

    This is what we like

    • Windows machine with full power
    • No restrictions on software
    • Fast stream performance on PC

    And what we don't

    • No game launch interface
    • Storage is a little
    • Shadow Ghost is horrible

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