When Nvidia unveiled its Tegra 4 mobile processor at CES in January, it also unveiled Project Shield, a handheld gaming console that would be powered by said chip. The “Project” has now been dropped and Nvidia has announced Shield will be available in June for US$349.
As well as running Android games and apps, Shield also makes PC games mobile by allowing games to be streamed from a PC packing compatible GeForce GTX cards. This gives mobile gamers access to a treasure trove of titles from Steam, as well as TegraZone and Google Play.
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On the hardware front, Shield is powered by the aforementioned Tegra 4 processor that packs four CPU cores, 72 GPU cores and 2 GB of RAM and comes running Jelly Bean. For streaming those PC games, the device boasts 802.11n 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi, which uses multiple antennas to increase speed.
While the console-like controller, with its full complement of dual analog joysticks, full-sized D-Pad, left and right analog triggers, full-sized bumpers and A/B/X/Y face buttons, will appeal to serious gamers frustrated by the limitations of touch screen controls, the 5-inch fold-up display with 1,280 x 720 resolution does support multi-touch.
Other specs include GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, a mini-HDMI out port, integrated speakers and microphone, 3.5 mm headphone jack, micro-USB port, 3-axis gyro, 3-axis accelerometer, and 16 GB of flash memory, with storage space able to be bumped up via a microSD slot.
Shield weighs 579 g (20.4 oz) and measures 158 x 135 x 57 mm (6.2 x 5.3 x 2.2 in), and is powered by a 28.8 Wh battery that should give uptimes ranging from around 5 hours for Tegra-optimized games, up to over 20 hours for games streamed from a PC that is handling the grunt work.
Along with Google Play and TegraZone, Shield also comes with Sonic 4 Episode II THD, Expendable: Rearmed, Hulu Plus and TwitchTV installed.
Aside from the Tegra 4 under the hood, the console-like controller and ability to stream PC games does differentiate Shield from its competitors, but the mobile gaming space is already a crowded one so it remains to be seen whether Nvidia can stake a claim of this heavily contested pie.
Shield will be available for pre-order from May 20, with shipping starting in June.
The device can be seen in action in the following video.