Jan 07 AT 3:06 AM Taylor Wimberly 45 Comments

NVIDIA reveals Project Shield mobile gaming system with Nexus-like “pure Android”

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NVIDIA just unveiled their Tegra 4 chip, which was in line with expectations, but they surprised everyone with the announcement of a portable gaming system referred to as Project Shield. The mobile device is shaped like a game controller, but it comes with a Tegra 4 chip inside and features a 5-inch 720p display attached to the top.

Last year I pleaded with NVIDIA to develop their own Tegra controller so developers would support a standard button layout for their games, but I never imagined they would produce a full-blown mobile gaming system. Several other companies have tried to produce an Android-powered game console, but none of them have sold that well.

“Project Shield was created by NVIDIA engineers who love to game and imagined a new way to play,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “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. We imagined a device that would do for games what the iPod and Kindle have done for music and books, letting us play in a cool new way. We hope other gamers love Shield as much as we do.”

Project Shield will appeal to Nexus lovers, since it runs “pure Android” with no skins. The demo ran a stock version of Android 4.2 Jellybean and all of Google’s mobile services were present, including the Google Play store. In addition to playing Android games, it will also run PC games through the use of a NVIDIA graphics card and their GeForce Experience software. NVIDIA showed off several PC games running through a Steam client, and the graphics and responsiveness were amazing.

Yves Guillemot, co-founder and chief executive officer of Ubisoft, said, “Ubisoft is always excited about new hardware developments, and Project Shield promises to bring both mobile and PC gamers a great new gaming experience. Seeing the PC version of Assassin’s Creed III run on the device is a great example of this, and further strengthens Ubisoft’s long-standing relationship with NVIDIA.”

Even though Project Shield is designed to be a mobile gaming device, it will deliver a great gaming and entertainment experience on the big screen. Games can beamed to a TV through a wired or wireless connection and it can output 4k video through a wired connection. Project Shield also supports Miracast wireless display and several devices will be able to act as “receive targets”. Brian Klug of Anandtech says the upcoming OUYA console will work as a receiver.

Mark Rein, Vice President and co-founder of Epic Games, said, “With Project Shield, NVIDIA brings an uncompromising, high-performance console experience to mobile devices. Amazing games including ‘Real Boxing’ and ‘Hawken,’ which utilize the latest Unreal Engine technology, look fantastic on Project Shield. This is just the beginning, and we’re truly excited to see what more Unreal Engine developers will do with so much horsepower in such a compact gaming device.”

No pricing was announced, but several sites are reporting that Project Shield will launch sometime in Q2. It will go on sale first in the US and Canada, and a worldwide rollout will follow later.

I think NVIDIA could have a potential hit on their hands if they price it low enough, but we will have to wait and see. We would love to see it priced as low as $199, but we wouldn’t be shocked if  it goes as high as $399. For comparison, Sony sells their Playstation Vita at $249 and Nintendo’s 3DS now starts at $199.

Head over to Geforce.com for a full teaser video and then let us know what you think. At what price would you be willing to buy a Shield?

Highlights of Project Shield include:

  • Tegra 4 processor, the world’s fastest mobile processor, providing unmatched Android gaming performance and graphics quality.
  • Pure Android 4.2 Jellybean allows play on Android games and PC games streamed from a GeForce GTX PC.
  • 5-inch “retina display” with 1280 x 720 resolution (294 dpi)
  • Console-grade controls – the first integrated gaming handheld with full console-grade controls; two joysticks, a D-pad, ABXY buttons, left/right bumpers, left/right analog triggers, Start/Back/Home/Volume buttons, and a multi-function NVIDIA/Power button.
  • Integrated speakers: custom, bass-reflex, tuned port audio system delivers fidelity and custom range never before experienced on a portable device
  • Customizeable back plate: design your own “shield” that snaps on to the back of the display
  • WiFi connectivity: 802.11n 2×2 MIMO game-speed Wi-Fi provides high-bandwidth, ultra-fast wireless for seamless game streaming

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Source: Project Shield

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Christopher Wueste

    OMG I want one of these so badly. Oh…1st!!!

  • zerosix

    It can be good for gaming side of Android.
    But I don’t think, that it will be a good competitor to PSV or 3DS.We must admit, that Android will be a good playing platform in a year, when the number and the quality of apps equals to Apple’s iOS.

    • Jonathan

      I don’t really think this will compete with the 3DS, at least, not directly. I do see this biting into the Vita’s market share, which is already painfully small. It’s a shame the vita never took off, because on paper, it was a great system: amazing graphics, amazing screen, innovative controls.

      While I never bought a vita, I could see myself buying this thing if it’s priced low enough, because it looks like a great gaming system that will also play other android media apps from the app store. I would immediately download snes/psx/n64 emulators, netflix, and my paid games, and set up a connection to my tv.

      I’m glad they chose to go with 720p instead of 1080×1920. 1080p 5″ screens are becoming more and more popular, so I bet they were tempted. 720p is a good resolution for a 5″ screen and will allow the tegra 4 to really flex its muscle, and I think 720p with amazing graphics settings > 1080p with lesser graphics settings.

    • nemesis4670

      First off the Android app selection is just as massive as Apple’s when it comes to applications with real purpose. Apple’s store is full of a lot of junk apps or duplicate apps with different names. Android also has a much bigger third party app selection seeing as Android is open source, whereas Apple is limited to a few Cydia apps after you go through the trouble of jailbreaking the device. They have the same games 9 times out of 10 and the Android version is way better because of Android’s native game controller support.

      Apple still hasn’t and probably never will fully accept gaming on their platform even though it’s one of the most used platforms for games. You’re stuck with crappy third party controllers that only work with a few select games and emulators. Whereas on Android as usual you can use something that’s already lying around your house like a PS3 or 360 controller. Then you also have the options like the MOGA controller which basically turn your phone or 7″ tablets into the Project Shield.

      You guys are not looking far enough ahead as Nvidia is. The release of this product is just the first step in Android gaming being a huge competitor against handhelds like the PS Vita and 3DS. Right now the amount of AAA games on Android is scarce but that’s because a product like Project Shield wasn’t around.

      I guarantee this device along with all the ones that follow suit will encourage the large gaming developers to not only design exclusive titles for Android, but also add Android to the roster of consoles with multi-platform games. Just think how many newer games they were still porting to PS2 and Nintendo DS not too long ago.

      It would be much more profitable for them to create Android versions of every game. It would be consumed by so many different devices and with a Tegra 4 or Exynos 5 processor it would actually provide better graphics than a PS Vita.

  • murali.ram

    Think gaming side started taking its shape…

    Soon will have lot of competitor of portable gaming gadgets.

  • SGB101

    Phones are really starting to eat in to DS and PSP players, so why do this.

    Stand alone players are a dieing platform, the only advantage this has over the others is price of its games.

    • epps720

      I think a way they could definitely differentiate this if you could link 2 + controllers and have multiplayer. Each player could play on their own controller/screen. The biggest feature I would love is if they could sell a seperate (much cheaper) controller basic bare bones controller w/o a screen or Android built in so that if you are linking it to a TV it could be a multiplayer console. Secondary controller would only work if the main controller is linked to an output screen. That would be the best of both worlds!

      • Kainy

        Type “Kainy Multi-Devices connections” on youtube to see something similar like that.

        • epps720

          that’s awesome

  • mecky33

    This is looking more promising than the other Android consoles that are coming out. I really want to know what the game availability will be though. It is all well and good that these things are coming to market but the big game companies that currently work with PC and main stream consoles don’t seem to be jumping on the band wagon. Maybe a console that is backed by a major supplier will start a new trend.

  • xray49er

    This looks great but this will all come down toprice

  • jerrbomb

    Finally… The a worthy android gaming device console to possible reshape the gaming world and the mobile gaming world as well.. I this is what people have been waiting on.. I something incredible.. I now.. To see if the price appeals as well..

  • http://www.ndroidgamers.com B2L

    If this ends up costing above $300, I don’t think it will do all that well. I just don’t see the need of having a device that’s similar to my phone or tablet, with a controller attached. The DS and Vita make sense because they are tied to major console manufacturers and they have a bunch of first party titles. The specs look great, but specs alone can’t sell this thing.

    I’ll stick with my MOGA (That I got for free) for now.

    • aufan1

      And if someone wanted to play games on their phone, a BT controller can be found for $20.

  • http://midweststitch.com ajonrichards

    Someone’s got to make the hardware first, and NVidia is taking the MOGA and the GameKlip to their logical conclusion: a fullblown Android console. If anyone’s got the influence to convince developers to make games for something like this, it’s NVidia. They still need to make a compatible controller for all the people with existing Tegra tablets and phones but still want to play console-style games on their Android devices.

  • The gamer

    I see this at a $300 price since they went 720p instead of 1080p knowing 4k will be on more tvs making the smartphone res go up to 1080p more

  • TURDxSANDWICH

    Yes, yes, yes!

    Tegra already started it with Tegra Zone, but this furthers the effort to reduce fragmentation when it comes to quality gaming. Developers note have one very popular platform to target. The next step I’d to make sure Tegra4 is a generation of processor that is measured in years furthering the ability of developers to get the most out of their gashes by really getting to know the platform.

  • h0ruza

    Looks very powerful and will have a great influence on the android gaming market (For Tegra 4 phones at least).

    I don’t think it looks like the kind of tech most would choose over a DS though so lets see how they get on.

  • gregdv

    I think it will need to be $200 or less to really take off mainstream.

  • heat361

    My favorite part was when Huang outed project Thor lol

  • Thomas Biard

    Looks awesome! I’d love to jump in on this. I have a rockin Nvidia GTX PC to stream from, so this could easily go in my house. I’m in for 1!

  • mario_1603

    I want to try this, for me looks nice

  • decker

    I think there is defiantly a market for this, especially with the success of Ouya.

  • BrotherBloat

    this looks very cool indeed, as long as the controller is ergonomic… It looks a bit on the large side, but hands-on will reveal… :)

  • Rockstar323

    Price point is going to be a huge factor. $300 will sell, they just won’t move many units. They really need to keep this under $200 to have a chance to compete with the DS. I see this more as a good way for nvidia to get into the hardware game without directly competing with manufactures who use their processors. Who knows, if this takes off we could be seeing a nvidia tablet at next years CES.

  • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=583695634&ref=profile Rahul Singh

    Can’t wait to get my hands on it.. and this might be my next handheld.

  • jamal adam

    I think that there is definitely a market for this and it’s just a matter of getting it out there with a great price that customers are willing to pay for. Even though the touchscreen controls are great and all, having physical buttons makes for the best way to experience playing games and the ability to stream pc games makes the deal even better.

  • Gabriel Bousquet

    At first I was not keen on the idea, but I’m warming up to it. If it’s priced right I know a lot of people I would get it for as gifts.

  • nobile

    OMG extremely cool :D

  • g1user

    Definitely a nice invention, but I’ll stick with my 360 ;)

  • golcarcol

    Since you are able to run PC Games through the Steam client, I wonder how much hard drive space they are going to give us.

  • Co1e

    I hate symmetrical thumb sticks. It looks like the PS controller had sex with “the dook” controller from the original xbox. That being said though, I would still play the crap out of this thing. Tegra 4 looks beast!

  • TURDxSANDWICH

    I really wish that screen would pivot around and fit back into the controller face up for non gaming applications.

  • uknowme

    I can’t wait to try this out. I’m happy they seemed to put a bit of effort into this.

  • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Homncruse

    Somebody get me new pants.

  • xxTigerShark

    At least with this I don’t have to buy all my games again or for that matter really anything. Hopefully the price is right.

  • Ardrid

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I really like what NVIDIA’s doing here. Biggest factors will be price and lag experienced while streaming. If the price is low enough, and the lag is negligible, I could see this being a fantastic buy for PC gamers, especially those with large Steam libraries. I would kill to be able to relax on the couch while playing Hotline Miami.

  • aykutb

    If this device gets proper software and dev support, it could be one hell of a portable console, when it comes to me, I avoid playing fps games and such on my android devices because I HATE on screen controllers and too lazy to buy a controller playing games on my 4.3″ phone or 10″ tablet. But this is a dedicated device, might turn out very nice, keep up Nvidia!

  • cthonctic

    Somehow I really can’t see this one taking off, but good luck to Nvidia anyway.
    I don’t dig consoles in the first place so I’m definitely not this device’s target audience. Still, it does feel a bit like a chimera with lots of things glued together that don’t really fit.

    We’ll see.

  • ProfessionalPartyer

    NVIDIA has repeatedly blown everyone away this CES! They are on a tear to dominate 2013!

  • lokidokie

    I’d buy one

  • ionorov

    I wonder if nVidia will allow it to be a controller for existing tablets as well. So if I had an ipad or a nexus 10… boom! instant game controller + an extra screen.

  • Gibberish

    This is very neat. But what I’m looking for is to be able to rotate the screen as I flip it down, so I can play games that have controls on the screen but don’t support this android.

  • Nathan D.

    This is a really cool, I would like to see or handle this myself.

  • jonstle

    This seems interesting, want to see more before I am sold on the idea. Always good to have someone new putting out some ideas to spur some competition.