Taking to the stage at this year’s CES, graphics hardware giant NVIDIA has announced Project Shield: a portable gaming console that plays both Android games via Google Play and some PC titles – provided there’s a PC located on the local network to stream the game from.
While we haven’t yet been given a full rundown of Project Shield’s specs, it appears to be roughly the size of an Xbox 360 controller, and sports two analog sticks, a D-Pad and plenty of buttons. Under the hood, NVIDIA’s next-gen Tegra 4 processor is doing the heavy lifting, and this comprises a monster 72-core GeForce GPU, working alongside an ARM-based quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU.
Project Shield runs Android Jelly Bean, so it can launch standard Android apps like Netflix and Hulu
Project Shield also features WiFi, and a multitouch 5-inch 294 DPI "retinal" display with 1280 x 720 resolution. Audio is delivered via a custom bass reflex audio system which promises twice the low-frequency output compared to most high-end laptops. We've heard rumors of a reported 10 - 15 hour battery life, but this is unconfirmed for now and should be treated as such.
Android games will be available from Google Play, and if you have a PC equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce 650 GPU or better, Project Shield can also be used as a wireless game receiver to play your favorite Steam titles via the Steam Big Picture system through the local network. NVIDIA states that some non-Steam games are to be supported too, though we’ve no hard details on this yet – some kind of easily configurable open-source standard would certainly be a good sign.
"We were inspired by a vision that the rise of mobile and cloud technologies will free us from our boxes, letting us game anywhere, on any screen," said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer at NVIDIA. "We imagined a device that would do for games what the iPod and Kindle have done for music and books."
The device is due for release sometime in the second quarter of 2013, at a price to be announced. Availability will initially be limited to the U.S. and Canada, with additional territories rolling out afterwards.