Kaboom: Nvidia Is Making Its Own Gaming System

Before today, Nvidia made parts to put inside gadgets other people build. Today, it has its own gaming device: a Tegra 4-powered handheld system with both an integrated controller and screen. It does 4k. But what the hell is it, exactly?

Also: Nvidia Just Built Its Own Gaming Supercomputer: The Grid

Nvidia says the device, nicknamed "Project Shield," will pack a 10-hour battery life, audio quality on par with a Jambox, a console-quality controller (bumpers, triggers, analog sticks, and a d-pad), and of course it runs Android. No skin. In the back you'll find plenty of ports: HDMI, micro-USB, microSD, and audio-out. So far, so good—but when you walk a bit further, all you see is excess.

There's the screen: a 5-inch, 720p display with touch capabilities too. The entire package looks to be about the size of an Xbox 360 controller, plus that screen popped out. This is a serious shot at not only Android gaming, but all mobile gaming, and even the likes of Wii U. Why? The thing isn't just an Android GameBoy—it's a mobile set top box and computer, capable of playing 4k movies to a full 4k TV via HDMI, hopping around Facebook, multitasking with your music in the background, and pretty much everything else you'd want from a modern tablet or smartphone. It just happens to look like a big green x-treme gaming controller.

The device can pull down Nvidia-optimized Android titles from the Tegrazone gaming library, as well as the ever-popular Steam via your existing computer. And there's multiplayer, of course, because this thing attempts bloody everything: Nvidia showed off two Project Shield handsets battling each other in the graphically-intensive mech grudge match Hawken, and it looked as smooth as you'd want it to. But, again, the two guys were sitting right next to each other on the same network.

But where does this thing belong in the world? It's probably not going to replace anything you already own—your gaming computer, your phone, your tablet, or your console. And yet it's massively impressive.

But it only plays Android games. Of which there aren't many that are... very good. Project Shield seems awkwardly spread across a spectrum of ability without proving that it should own any of them. It plays music! It streams some PC games to itself! You can read magazines on it! Facebook! Facebook again! But aren't you already doing all these things? Just because it can do it all doesn't mean that it should—or that it will with any grace. Or take a chunk of your dollars. It's hard to imagine people straying from the safety of Sony and Nintendo's stable of comfortable titles into the Android gaming crevasse, or dropping an Apple TV, or, hell, just checking Facebook on your damn phone.

As a computing feat, it deserves attention. A pretty stellar little appliance. But from where I'm sitting, it looks mostly like every concept known to humankind thrown into a blender.

No word on pricing or availability. Both are probably large, distant numbers.


Comments

    Almost as cool as a Nokia N-Gage !!!

    Are people frothing that hard for Android gaming devices?
    I guess it's in the same ballpark as Ouya so we'll see.

      Ouya is well behind before it is even out.
      https://twitter.com/renderpaz/status/287096063939186688.

      "Kevin Pazirandeh
      [email protected]
      I'd be excited to dev for OUYA if it didn't have less power than an iPad 2 and nearly 3x more pixels to drive"

    It's a bit more than just an Android-based gaming console - it's also capable of outputting 4K video, and streaming games from a PC (presumably over WiFi). And I'm guessing it's also capble of streaming from Nvidia's just-announced Grid cloud gaming service.

    But it only plays Android games. Of which there aren’t many that are… very good.

    *cough*

    If it only plays android games then how was Hawken running? I thought that game was only PC so far.

    LOL Nvidia ,
    we will stream you your new graphics card over the internets and make a super dooper new handheld device for playing all your great android games on.
    Have Nvidia taken a retard pill lately.

    PC GAMES ON A PORTABLE DEVICE!!! (inside your house) which is still pretty damn awesome. i'm excited!

    ever since the vita, i've been wanting more quality games in a portable manner, while playing on my bed with the lights off and headphones on. i find it much more immersive and intimate than my 30" monitor with surround sound.

    i can't wait for this!

    ps. i posted the exact same thing in the kotaku article. that's how excited i am.

      Then you should buy a Wii U. Its excellent for this and it WORKS. This device has yet to show how far it can actually stream images, and quite frankly, a lot of PC games are best played with keyboard and mouse.

    You cant see a use for it? why not with as powerful as it is? You said everything it does we already do, but the fact is it does it much faster and much better if its capable of all what the article states. Its powered by android. So what. Android is starting to become a more mature operating system. Not as good as windows, Linux or OS X, but android 4.2 is still up there. If you don't like android as an operating system, you could probably figure out how to run windows on it. I'm sure someone will. It plays full 4k resolution? The resolution of 4k is roughly twice the size of 1080P. That means less video artefacts and a clearer, crisper image. A lot of people are starting to complain that even 1080P is not crisp or sharp enough. Wouldn't you like to be playing skyrim, cod, or far cry 3 on a much bigger screen that has a clearer, sharper image? Twice the resolution of 1080P is guaranteed to produce a clearer sharper image, although the file size for a full 4k resolution video file will probably be twice the size of 1080P, that is unless someone invents a better compression ratio for video, without loosing any quality. All in all I think it looks quit promising. Even if this device doesn't become as popular as xbox, wii u, ps vista, It will defiantly set the bar higher for future consoles and computers and mobile devices.

    It's hard to say whether or not this will succeed. With the coming Xbox 720 & PS4 - along with the Steambox.... i'm not sure how this will fit in. If anything it'll be on the Linux/Valve team competing against Sony & Microsoft.

    DARK SOULS MOBILE!

      thats a good idea in theory, but i can see the whole device getting smashed in frustration.

    It looks like what consoles will become. Powerful, portable devices that can be used on any screen at any time, or even their own. It might be a little cumbersome now, but I'm sure the ideas here will catch on in the not too distant future.

    I can see what this represents, but not sure it would be successful in the markets.

    I'd buy one anyways

    This thing looks absolutely epic. Priced right , it will cause huge waves

    Is this why we're all still waiting for the next gen of gfx cards to appear?

    Just hurry up and release the damn 680!

      You mean this? http://umart.com.au/newindex2.phtml?bid=5 :P

        Damnit. You know what I mean. 780!

        Doh!

        I've got a 580 and usually upgrade every 2nd generation of cards. It feels like I've been waiting along time for the coming one. I've had the 580 for 2 years now.

    If this can do the whole retro gaming like the Ouya supposedly can then this could be a big seller.

    Not interested.. As pointed out, nearly every android game is developed for touch - and this device looks way too uncomfortable for that. And it can do what the Wii U can currently do - but for PC gaming. But how is it streaming it? Nintendo just didn't pull the Gamepad out of their butt. The gamepad has been rumoured to be in the works since the Gamecube!

    I think Nvidia would have been better off designing a tablet with controllers much like Razer did. This looks horrible in comparison.

    I don't own a tablet, or an Apple T.V. Or really anything outside a smart phone and Gaming Computer.

    I'll buy one.

    I'm yet to find a handheld game that is all that interesting. Air Control, maybe. But only as a diversion on a bus or in a waiting room.

    I can't see a role for this standalone device in a world where everyone has a smartphone...?

    I would suggest this will go hand-in-hand with nVidia's cloud gaming platform when it is released.

    This is Awesome. I'm gaming with my Nexus 7. Going to hook up an xBox controller to get more precision. The only thing I'm lacking is hdmi out for when I'm at home. Yes I know other tablets have hdmi out, but I like the size, hd screen, pure up to date android and the tegra 3 experience.

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