Nvidia’s latest addition to the Shield range is an Android TV-based console that lets you play games locally by taking advantage of the system’s Tegra X1 SoC, or access on-demand titles through the company’s GRID streaming service. As it’s based on Android, it’ll also provide access services such as Google Play, YouTube and Netflix, streaming media at up to 4K resolutions.
The Shield console packs the company’s Maxwell-based Tegra X1 SoC – which carries 256 GPU cores and cranks out 1 teraflop of computing power – alongside 3 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage. The console has an attractive angular design, with a thickness of 25 mm (1 in) and a footprint of 130 mm (5.1 in) x 210 mm (8.3 in).
Nvidia has committed to bringing a range of popular titles to the system via Google Play, including the recently released Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and the graphically-demanding Crysis 3. The system’s 16 GB of storage is a little on the small side for storing games locally, but luckily there’s a microSD card reader included, meaning you’ll be able to easily boost available space.
While the system’s ability to play those titles locally is certainly impressive (though without hands-on time, it’s impossible to know exactly how well they actually run), the Shield will also lean heavily on the company’s upcoming GRID on-demand game service, where users can stream titles such as Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series and The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings from the cloud.
Those two methods of content delivery should amount to a solid lineup of titles at launch (Nvidia is promising 200), providing you’ve got a stable enough connection to handle the streaming side of things. Users will also be able to use the company’s GameStream service to stream games from a PC on their local network.
The console ships with a dedicated controller that has a design similar to the company’s Shield handheld. It features a built-in microphone for accessing Google’s voice search service, and up to four of the peripherals can be connected to the console at any one time, allowing for traditional sofa-based multiplayer sessions. The company will also offer an optional Bluetooth media remote which, like the controller, has a built-in microphone.
Of course, this being an Android TV-based box, it’s not all about the games. The Shield lets users tap into the wealth of apps available on the platform, and is capable of streaming content at 4K through compatible services such as Netflix and YouTube.
There’s a lot of competition when it comes to Android-powered set top boxes, with systems such as Amazon’s Fire TV or Razer’s Forge TV already offering gaming on the big screen. That said, the dual method of game delivery and the promise of a healthy library of games could make the Shield a solid option for those interested in an Android TV console.
The Shield console will ship in May for US$199 with a single gamepad controller.
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