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Powerful niche service, but skip the hardware – check geek


  • 1 – Absolute hot garbage
  • 2 – Sorta lukewarm garbage
  • 3 – Heavily defective design
  • 4 – Some advantages, many disadvantages
  • 5 – Acceptable imperfectly
  • 6 – Good enough to to buy in the trade
  • 7 – Great, but not class best class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
  • 9 – Shut up and take my money [19659004] 1
    0 – Absolut Design Nirvana

Price: 35 / month

  The shadow service is available on various platforms.

Shadow wants to sell you a dream: a super-powerful, constantly connected computer that you can access from anywhere with any device. This computer is primarily intended for gaming, but since it runs Windows, it can do everything a normal PC can do.

Here's what we like

  • Full-Windows Windows Full Computer
  • No Software Restrictions [19659004] Fast streaming performance on the PC

And what we do not do

  • No interface to start the Game
  • Storing is a bit small
  • The Shadow Ghost is Terrible

And on a fundamental level, Shadow does. The service works, and the experience is surprisingly good as long as you access it from another computer. Switch to a phone, a tablet, or even Shadow's first Ghost hardware, and things are falling apart. That does not mean that Shadow is not worth investigating, but it does mean that its appeal is limited to a specific audience – and that a large part of that audience is likely to have access to a gaming PC.

Shadow is cool. But it does not live up to its potential, and for many users, that means it's not a hefty $ 35 a month for access.

What you can do with Shadow

So, quick overview of what Shadow is: It's a platform that lets you rent a high-end Windows computer virtualized on Shadows servers and from your Windows / MacOS / Linux PC, Android device or the set-top of Shadow Ghost remotely accessible box. The remote machine is designed for PC gaming with a powerful and dedicated NVIDIA GPU, a super-fast web connection in Shadow's data center that can stream to you up to 1440p (or 1080p for 144 Hz). [19659029] Shadow, whose remote PC interface is running in a window on my desktop. "width =" 2560 "height =" 1440 "data-credittext =" Michael Crider "src =" /pagespeed_static/1.JiBnMqyl6S.gif "onload =" pagespeed.lazyLoadImages.loadIfVisibleAndMaybeBeacon (this); "onerror =" this.onerror = null; pagespeed.lazyLoadImages.loadIfVisibleAndMaybeBeacon (this); ">

Shadow executes his remote PC interface in a window on my desktop. Michael Crider

This is a great trick home PC and a remote access program you can not do anything – in fact, there are already services that do pretty much the same, such as NVIDIA GameStream and Steam In-Home streaming, the advantage of the Shadow setup is that it is in the Cloud is accessible from anywhere with a fast data connection, and it is remotely managed for optimal stability and speed.

If you want a high-end gaming PC without building or buying it Do it or store it in your house d pay the extra power to carry it out. This is a great way to reach your goal. For example, say you have a fast connection to make the streaming interface worth at least 25 Mbps, and you're willing to pay the $ 35 per month to access the service.

  Shadows hardware runs as a medium-high Windows PC.
Shadow hardware runs as a medium-sized Windows PC. Michael Crider

Further technical details. There is basically no limit to the virtualized Windows machine, and you can install any software. Although you can not change the hardware, it is quite generous in terms of specifications. The processor of your remote computer is an Intel Xeon E5-2678 with 12GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GTX 1080 equivalent GPU (one of the fastest that has recently been replaced by the new RTX models). The virtual memory is a little tight at just 256 GB, but it's fast and the data center connection is so fast (700-800 Mbps when I tested it), so you can download even the biggest games with almost no delay.

… and What you do not

Unlike the more popular NVIDIA and Sony PlayStation streaming services, you do not actually get any games for your shadow machine. It comes preinstalled with game store clients like Steam, Origin and Uplay. It is compatible with all Windows products up to the latest titles. However, you must provide these titles yourself and download and install them manually. This is an advantage if you already have a huge library of PC games. If not, look for free stuff like Apex Legends.

Another thing Shadow does not offer is a game management interface. The connection works more or less like any remote computer access system: Log in to the Shadow service and you will see a standard Windows 10 desktop either in full screen or in windowed mode. Switching between these two is easy, but managing your shadow computer is more or less impossible without a mouse and keyboard.

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

That's an important point. Stream your Steam library from your office into your living room TV, and you get the Big Picture mode, which is easy to navigate and even change with a controller. Something similar applies to GameStream and GeForce NOW for NVIDIA SHIELD or for PlayStation Now for all connected apps.

Shadow gives you a computer, nothing more, nothing less. Starting the programs without at least one connected mouse is a problem, which makes the use of the service on any computer that is not yet a computer extremely cumbersome. This includes the Ghost set-top box … but more on that later.

The lack of an easy-to-navigate game launcher for either taps or controller input is by far the biggest disadvantage of the service. Shadow sells itself when it's reachable via phones and tablets – this can be seen everywhere in advertising. The fact that it's harder to use from a phone than Chrome Remote Desktop, for example, is extremely embarrassing. If the service were only presented as a powerful remote computer, that would be one thing. But this is supposed to be a slot machine accessible from anywhere … and accessing the actual games on another computer is a headache.

Who is the shadow?

Shadow works best as a supercharging program A low-power notebook or desktop, such as a lower-class MacBook Air or one of these small ThinkPad workstations. In full screen mode, the interface is indistinguishable from normal Windows.

At my 100 Mbps connection I was able to play fast-paced games like Overwatch and Rocket League without any noticeable delay. My connection usually took about 20 milliseconds to ping, but the connection from the shadow data center to the multiplayer game server was almost instantaneous, so I did not notice any extra delay.

  Shadow runs at 60 to 144 full-load PC games Hz.
Shadow runs full-power PC games at 60 to 144 Hz. Michael Crider

It's also visually stunning: I randomly use a GeForce GTX 1080 on my desktop, and playing DOOM (2016) at 1080p and 144Hz was almost exactly the same as local. The maximum resolution of my monitor can be up to 1440p, but drops to "only" 60 hertz. The colors mix a bit, especially if you try a slower Wi-Fi connection or while uploading or downloading in the background, but not as dramatically as using something like Gamestream.

This will display the theme of your local hardware. Depending on your setup, you may not be able to use all of Shadow's bells and whistles, but some of them are inaccessible, regardless of what you do. You'll need a decent mouse, keyboard, and gamepad to get the most out of your games, and a good, fast monitor (at least 1080p, preferably 144Hz) will help.

But Shadow can not use more than one monitor at a time, at least in the current version, and I have always received only stereo sound from the service. The accessory bridging system is a bit strange – it's best to set up custom input settings on your local computer and let Shadow handle only standard drivers. But it handles controllers well, and I suspect that basic keyboard and mouse input is sufficient for most gaming applications.

  Shadow's settings are pretty sparse.
Shadow settings are pretty sparse. Michael Crider

And what if you do not play? I transferred my copy of Photoshop to the remote Shadow PC and was able to use it as usual. It seems that you can set up remote Windows installation with any programs and customizations, as long as they do not require access to UEFI / BIOS or more complicated hardware such as a capture card. It's just a shame that there is currently no native way to access Shadow from a Chromebook (the Android app works technically but is not ideal). I would be tempted to pay the monthly fee for this program alone.

What about the shadow spirit?

Skip it.

This is a bit funky … but the Ghost is not a great product. After several hours of testing, I was often confronted with connectivity issues, mainly due to streaming interface errors that detected my mouse, my keyboard, or my Xbox controller (sometimes several at a time). This is a big problem because, as with the computer UI, it is not possible to intuitively use the remote Windows computer without a conventional mouse and keyboard.

  The rear ports of the Shadow Ghost.
Michael Crider

This is a shocking failure. The Steam Link box (now discontinued) showed how years ago it was, and it does not even require a mouse or keyboard to get it up and running. It does not help to leave the remote Windows streaming setup and to return to Ghost's minimal setup menu, you need to physically press the button on the box. This makes it indispensable awkward when a gadget should live under your device TV.

  The Shadow Ghost is slightly larger than a controller.
Michael Crider

The streaming of the games themselves was also significantly worse than on my full PC, even when I used a hard ethernet cable for an ideal connection. Lag was minimal, but it seemed the Ghost was severely limiting the streaming bitrate and resolution to achieve this. Between the input and connectivity issues and the very limited set-up options of the hardware itself, it's simply not a good way to play games, PCs, or other things.


Shadow is a platform that is promising. But right now, the only people who are really interested in the game features are mainly investing in their local machines anyway. If Shadow can create a game browser and a set of tools to make it easier to play with mobile phones or tablets, it could deliver on that promise.

At the moment, it's an interesting option, one ton of power from a low horsepower machine, assuming you have a high-speed connection and a little available monthly income. The good news is that if you live in any of the supported markets, you can test one month Shadow for $ 35 on unlimited, non-contracted computers, which is a relatively low risk. Just avoid the ghost hardware, unless the minimalist software gets much better. An option to pay more for more memory, RAM or a newer GPU would not hurt either.

Rating: 7/10

Price: 35 / month

What We Like

  • Full-featured Windows Full Computer
  • No Software Restrictions
  • Fast streaming -Power on the PC

And what we do not

  • No interface to start games
  • Memory is a bit small
  • The Shadow Ghost is terrible

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