The original Nvidia Shield looked cool and had some neat ideas behind it, but its cost and use of the neglected Android TV operating system left the set-top box/console fusion feeling more like Frankenstein than legitimate answer to either Roku, PS4 or Xbox One. A major software update and some much needed changes to the system peripherals has changed the Nvidia Shield into a legitimate set-top box choice — especially if you're looking to playback 4K HDR content.
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In front of thousands, the pitch sounded good. Bring PC gaming to the hundreds of millions who can't, or haven't experienced it before. It's a sensible, reasonable goal for a publicly listed company like NVIDIA to aim at. And the idea of putting a gaming PC in the cloud has a certain logic to it.
Problem is, we've been here before. It didn't work. And even if the streaming technology was sound, it still wouldn't work for Australians.
When I was a kid, self-driving cars were the sci-fi future. They were the stuff of Isaac Asimov's Sally and the Johnny Cab from Total Recall. I didn't actually think that they'd ever happen — the concept itself was a long way from reality, a lot more fi than sci. But smarter brains than mine, with the help of some surprisingly old-school tech, have built cars that can drive on everyday roads.
I took a short trip in one, and it was normal. Normal to the point of being bland — which is what you want from a self-driving car.
Nvidia started out as a graphics card company. Nvidia basically invented the performance GPU. But Nvidia does a lot more than desktop graphics these days. VR, AR, mixed reality, self-driving and autonomous vehicles, deep learning neural networks — all these use technology that started out running the first 3D-accelerated PC games 20 years ago.
Virtual reality finally arrived. Self-driving cars started wandering streets and past red lights. SpaceX aborted a rocket launch four times within a week. Samsung started strong with the Galaxy S7 and finished with the Note7 nuking itself into orbit while you slept.
We had new graphics cards, and most of them were pretty damn good. Consoles broke the mould by releasing new hardware mid-cycle and becoming more like PCs than ever before. And, unsurprisingly, we found out once again that Einstein really knew his shit.
It's been a big year for tech. Let's break down this year's biggest moments.
Nvidia's recent portable graphics renaissance means you can now get a notebook that can run all the latest games with the same visual fidelity as a proper dekstop PC.
Aorus is Gigabyte's premium gaming brand, and its X5v6 is a phenomenally powerful laptop — overclocked CPU, GTX 1070 graphics, super-fast SSDs — that barely weighs 2.5kg. This might be the lightest hardcore laptop for gaming and VR that you can buy right now.
Virtual reality is great and all, but it needs a little more space — especially if you're using a room-scale HTC Vive. And that probably means you're going to want to set up your powerful VR gaming PC in an open area like your living room. And that means you're going to want a PC that can hide out of the way in your TV cabinet. Enter the MSI Trident, the world's smallest VR-ready PC.
If you've got a PC that isn't cutting-edge — like most people out there — but you still want to play games, even a modest upgrade to your computer's graphics card can mean massive gains for in-game performance. Nvidia wants you to buy its card for exactly that purpose, even if your machine is four or five years old.
Nvidia has made a tiny artificial intelligence computer for powering the high definition mapping and highway automated driving of autonomous vehicles.
Snapped up by China's Baidu as the in-vehicle car computer for its self-driving cloud-to-car system, the palm-sized Drive PX 2 allows cars to use deep neural networks to process data from multiple cameras and sensors — all while using just 10 watts of power.
Driverless cars are very cool, but the technology that enables their self-driving smarts requires a novel mix of raw computational and deep learning power, using both general-purpose CPUs and GPUs to crunch real-time data and match it to a massive catalogue of imagery and vehicle profiles. A brand new Nvidia processor, the company says, has the power to finally make it happen.
You haven't really experienced PC gaming if you've been playing on a laptop instead of a desktop. You've enjoyed the convenience of taking your games anywhere, but you've sacrificed playability for mobility. Your games are rarely pretty. You run things on mid-to-low settings. The newest games struggle. But with Nvidia's latest new line of mobile video cards based on the Pascal chip architecture, that's all going to change. Nvidia just closed the gap between mobile and desktop PC gamers, and made VR accessible to a much larger audience.
When Nvidia released its latest Pascal graphics cards for desktop PCs, it signalled a significant jump in outright performance from the previous Maxwell generation, with a completely new architecture offering not only improved frame rates but also much more efficient energy consumption — the critical metric of performance per Watt. Nvidia has taken that leap further with a new range of 10-series graphics chipsets for gaming laptops, and unlike in previous generations they're not operating at a huge performance disadvantage versus desktops.