06
Jan
Nvidia_logo.svg

After about 45 minutes of casual sexism and awkward pauses, NVIDIA's Jen-Hsun Huang dropped the bomb. Project Shield is a handheld gaming console running pure, unmodified Android (Jelly Bean). At its core is the newly-announced Tegra 4 ARM chip, but that's not all.

Update: Official video of Project Shield:

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The device looks like a standard wireless controller with a flip-up screen. Around the back are I/O ports, and there's no proprietary nonsense here. HDMI, USB, microSD, and an audio jack. This isn't just a render, either –  the device was shown off on stage. Jen-Hsun Huang used Project Shield to push a 4K video over HDMI to a 4K TV as well. The screen is reportedly a 5-inch "retinal" display, which in this case means 720p, with 296 dpi. Both the gamepad controls and the touchscreen can be used to navigate the Android UI.

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Because this is running a full version of Android, all the games you see in Google Play (and more specifically Tegra Zone) will be available on Shield. New Tegra 4-optimized titles like Hawken and Dead Trigger 2 were demoed on the device. Both looked impressive, and I expect a lot of NVIDIA's efforts in 2013 will be directed toward getting more Tegra 4-exclusive titles on Android.

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nvidia_project_shield-top-open-controls nvidia_project_shield-open-left nvidia_project_shield-top-closed_v2

Shield will also be capable of running some VNC-like wireless technology to stream desktop games rendered on a PC to the handheld and a TV. NVIDIA had some issues getting this running in the demo, but it was cool once it happened. It's looking like a killer product, but no official price or release date were mentioned. However, various sources are talking about Q2 2013 retail availability in the US and Canada. Update: NVIDIA confirmed the Q2 timeline via an email.

NVIDIA Untethers Gaming with Project SHIELD, World’s First Gaming Portable for Open Platforms

LAS VEGAS—CES—Jan. 6, 2013—NVIDIA today announced Project SHIELD, the world’s first gaming portable for open platforms, designed for modern gamers who yearn to play when, where and how they want.

Created with the philosophy that gaming should be open and flexible, Project SHIELD flawlessly plays both Android and PC titles. As a pure Android device, it gives access to any game on Google Play. And as a wireless receiver and controller, it can stream games from a PC powered by NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX GPUs, accessing titles on its STEAM game library from anywhere in the home.

“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 chief executive officer at 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 combines the advanced processing power of NVIDIA Tegra® 4, breakthrough game-speed Wi-Fi technology and stunning HD video and audio built into a console-grade controller. It can be used to play on its own integrated screen or on a big screen, and on the couch or on the go.

Tegra 4 at Its Heart
At the core of Project SHIELD is the world’s fastest mobile processor, the new NVIDIA Tegra 4, which delivers enormous power from its custom 72-core GeForce GPU and the first quad-core application of ARM’s most advanced CPU core, the Cortex-A15. These, combined with its battery-saver core and energy-saving PRISM 2 technology, deliver hours of gameplay on a single charge.

Windows and Android Games
Windows and Android are the world’s most successful computing platforms, with massive ecosystems of system and software developers. While not specifically designed for gaming, both open platforms have drawn gamers by the millions. Project SHIELD is designed to allow them to enjoy Android and Windows games in a new and exciting way.

Project SHIELD can instantly download Android games, including Android-optimized titles available on NVIDIA’s TegraZone™ game store, which has already delivered more than 6 million downloads to gamers. SHIELD can also be used as a wireless game receiver to a nearby PC equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 GPU or higher.

Console-Grade Controller
Project SHIELD’s ergonomic controller was built for the gamer who wants ultimate control and precision.

Retinal Gaming Display
Brilliant gameplay and video are provided by SHIELD’s integrated 5-inch, 1280x720 HD retinal multitouch display, with 296 dpi. Plus, Tegra 4 Direct Touch technology gives Project SHIELD touch response that is three-times faster than that available on any other touch device.

Tuned Port, Bass Reflex Portable Speaker System
Deep, rich audio is critical for a great gaming experience. And Project SHIELD provides fidelity and dynamic range never before available on a portable device, through its custom, bass reflex, tuned port audio system – with twice the low-frequency output of high-end laptops.

Project SHIELD can also access Android apps such as Hulu, Netflix and Slacker Radio, so users can enjoy their movies and music anywhere without expensive, clumsy wired or wireless speakers.

Support by Leading Game Developers
Leading game developers expressed strong support for SHIELD.

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.”

“With Project Shield, NVIDIA brings an uncompromising, high-performance console experience to mobile devices,” said Mark Rein, vice president and co-founder of Epic Games. “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.”

“Coming from the openness of a PC platform, we love how accessible Project SHIELD is, and the flexibility it gives gamers everywhere,” said Bill Wagner, chief production officer at Meteor Entertainment. “Project SHIELD gives us the cutting-edge ability to bring a huge free-to-play PC game like ‘Hawken’ to the handheld gaming audience.”

More information is available at shield.nvidia.com.

[NVIDIA Project Shield, Shield FAQ]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Alex

    Cmon... No one needs this, and i bet ittl be ridiculously priced. If anyone wants mobile gaming get a Vita or 3DS. Android just has... mobile games..

    • http://twitter.com/staticint Ruben Martinez Jr.

      You realize, you just said: if anyone wants [mobile games] get a [mobile game system]. This [mobile game system] just has [mobile games]. Nice job.

      • David Hart

        Well listen to him for a second. More often than not, a mobile (i.e. android/ios) game is pretty shallow. With a few exceptions, and those are mostly ports, they just don't even come close. I would rather play God of War on the psp, than play Dungeon Hunter on Android any day. If you really think about it, there isn't that many original compelling titles for the smartphone tablet market.

        I'm sorry, I'm pretty tired otherwise I would elaborate more.

        • PINJ

          Gof Of War And Dungeon Hunter Are Two Complete Different Games. Shadows Of Ruin 3DS And Dungeon Hunter Are Comparable.

    • paleh0rse

      Perhaps you missed the part about streaming PC titles via Steam? Ummm, yeah.

      • darsh

        Yeah? You're going to stream from your PC on the subway or an airplane?

  • Chris Bossardet

    I was excited about this when the news first leaked out. But why the hell pure Android? Make it something proprietary to go head to head with Nintendo and capture the hardcore handheld market Sony never could. That would be awesome. This is just boring to me now.

    • Nick Coad

      I don't understand why running pure Android would mean they can't "go head to head with Nintendo"?

      • vapourmile

        A dedicated striped down home console style games OS would speed graphics handling considerably.

        • Nick Coad

          If you read the article about the processor in this thing, I don't think it'll have problems competing in that regard.

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

          In reality, the Android NDK can get as close to the metal as the XBox 360 and Wii (the PS3 had some special features allowing partners to consume entire cores in ways that broke they typical execution model). None of the last generation handheld game systems allowed for as much hardware access as Android already does. The limiting factor for most Android games today is that they don't take advantage of the full list of platform specific optimizations, something that will obviously not be an issue for Tegra 4-targeted games.

          Common sense always comes back to bite us, it's plain to see that 2 years from now this handheld will be old news and seem archaic while nobody will say that about the other latest handhelds, but that's because the SHIELD will be directly compared to tablets and phones that double in power and performance every 6 months. Of course, if nVidia handles their developer relations correctly, the SHIELD might become a standardized bar that developers build for rather than another iteration that each developer may or may not test with.

          • Tomi Golob

            Aye and if my granny had wheels she be a wagon... no but sarcasm aside I agree with you

        • marcusmaximus04

          "A dedicated striped down home console style games OS would speed graphics handling considerably."

          Only if you don't understand how existing graphics handling works.

    • http://twitter.com/BroMonty Joe Montgomery

      Because if they had done something proprietary, they would have to get developers to create new games just for this new device. In the mobile world, that is incredibly hard. Running pure android means they have access to every android game ever made, as well as a whole bunch of android games made in the future.

      • http://twitter.com/staticint Ruben Martinez Jr.

        Exactly, and they're using a platform that's already well-known. Basically, there's no downside to it. And there's no alternative that could offer more.

      • Carrie Brown

        Really? Mobile gaming is not in an "awkward and confusing point" and is actually experiencing a huge boom. Vita and 3DS are floundering because of their competition with Android and iOS devices.

    • PhilADS

      well android ecosystem have emulators :D

  • polo79

    I think the first two commenters are on crack. This looks like a PS vita killer to me.

    • Nick Coad

      Agreed! But more to the point, this ruins any remote chance Ouya had of being a thing. Anyone interested in the Ouya will almost definitely prefer this.

      • http://twitter.com/staticint Ruben Martinez Jr.

        Ouya may reach market sooner. For it's sake, it better. And they better be ready to invest in updated CPUs soon.

      • Tze Tuo Cheung Vivas

        Ouya may still have a chance depending on the price of shield.

        • Nick Coad

          Yeah good point. For this to succeed it'll need to be priced around $150, perhaps $200 at an absolute max.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nabillist Nabil Shaikh

      Yeap, Wii U looks absolutely trash now!

      • PINJ

        The Wii U Still Has Far Superior Graphic Abilities Than This One. Think Navel I Mean Nabil.

        • didibus

          Doesn't this thing stream games from GTX 650, which would obliterate a WiiU

        • http://www.facebook.com/nabillist Nabil Shaikh

          This has better specs, and better features, get your brain workign before your mouth Pussy, oh i meant PINJ

  • ERIFNOMI

    I've never been interested in mobile gaming. I don't know why, but it's never held my interest.

    • Tomi Golob

      You shall suffer in your next life ! **shakes fist**

  • Chris Bozsik

    I hope they change the design because that thing is hideous.

    • Nick Coad

      To each their own, but I think it's beautiful.

      • Tomi Golob

        Eeeeww ...

    • theineffablebob

      Yeah, this thing is butt ugly. It's like a cross between a Jaguar and Xbox controller.

  • http://twitter.com/pRo_lama pRo_lama

    What is the game on the last screenshot ???

    • Mark

      assassin's creed

  • acer1096xxx

    I really hope there's a 3G/4G version so I can play Assassin's Creed 3 on the go! :D

    • Elias

      Tegra 4 has LTE. Ehr, will have LTE.

    • Tomi Golob

      Yeah...if u are 14 years old...

      • acer1096xxx

        I am 16, but regardless, I still think it'd be interesting if console games were available any where you go on a hand-held device. Whether or not you consider it a childish dream, I am still fond of the concept.

  • ROB

    Well as mentioned in the stream OUYA and SHIELD is meant to coexist. It is called choice and more so OUYA is more of a new platform than what SHIELD is. I believe you can use one as an extension of the other. Better take notes Sony and Microsoft.

    I currently use a PS Vita and I am blown away about this concept. It is SO MUCH BETTER than some "game stick"!

    • Tomi Golob

      You really think nvidia and companies like that are all about a fair market share thing ? They just want to destroy any competition if they can... go sing kumbayah somewhere else , I will handle this

      Edit: ...nevermid I had a bad day

  • http://twitter.com/geekingtastic Clayton Belseck

    This is what I have been waiting for; I was hoping some one was planning on going this route with a gaming system. The Wii-U had a great concept but they just didn't take it to that next level. The PC is far from the Grave and the traditional Console is still doing fine but this opens up a whole new chapter.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    Mark this down as a total wish moment, grasping at straws even...But, is it possible we are looking at a future Nexus device? Sounds crazy, I agree, but bear with me ;)

    * They keep using the phrases "Pure Android" and "latest Android Jelly Bean operating system from Google" in the demonstration and marketing materials. Even the pictures of the device clearly show it using the stock launcher with the default Jellybean background.

    * nVidia has taken a much more open hardware approach starting with the Nexus 7.

    * There have been several rumors about Google opening up the Nexus program to multiple devices and manufacturers (did that already). Maybe they are still going to stick with 1 of each kind of device/size, they are just adding the handheld game console category next.

    * Google has already been VERY vocal about making games a big part of their upcoming strategy, and a standardized target would be a great way to really push that forward.

    * The demonstration showed them using Google Music, which didn't even make sense in the context fo the demo. It seemed like they are trying to feature their close ties with Google.

    * nVidia is being extremely forward with the part about only using standard port connectors for everything, a detail Google would have surely lobbied for.

    * Oh yeah, the semi-confirmed launch window happens to include the date for Google I/O 2013. Yes, that's almost certainly a coincidence, but it's still true.

    Nobody needs to tell me why this doesn't seem likely, I know there are countless reasons why this is probably a pipe dream. Regardless of all of the reasons to doubt it, there are just enough reasons that it could be legit and I wouldn't be completely surprised if it turns out to be true.

    • Gabo

      Moreover, I was looking for pictures of the back of the device and it seems like there isn't any (or I'm bad at search ^^"). So, maybe there's no images available because that's where the nexus logo would be!

  • Elias

    Let's see if nvidia will ruin this thing with a pricetag higher than $200.

    • David Hart

      I would buy this at $250-$300

      • Nick Coad

        I could maybe stretch to $200, but I don't think many others will. If they don't price it under $200 I can see it being a big flop. Google's Nexus devices have kind of changed what people consider a reasonable price to pay for something like this.

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

          I don't think enough people really perceive Google's Nexus devices as forcing prices downward. We AP readers certainly do, and there's probably a few other people who read Engadget or other similar sites, but regular people don't see that, especially a lot of the gamer crowd that doesn't overlap with the gadget crowd.

          Further, there is nothing to compare to. It's in a different market and directed at a different audience (sorta). Saying that Nexus devices make people expect lower prices would imply that I should expect to see Nissan selling the Altima for a couple thousand less to be competitive. I know, that's a silly exaggeration, but the space between the Nexus buying crowd and the typical gamer is just as wide.

          When the VITA costs between $250 - $300, and the Wii U is between $350 - $400, I don't think anybody would bat an eye if the SHIELD comes out at $200-$300. It can be cheaper or comparable, with better hardware, with more capability and usefulness. Expecting this to flop if it's not below $200 seems a little unrealistic.

  • David Hart

    I'm super excited about this. I'll be watching this very closely as this year goes by. ;)

  • Himmat Singh

    Price of USD250 with 32GB internal storage plus access to Google Play and this is an insta-buy!

  • primalxconvoy

    Looks interesting, but I think what we need are phones that either come with dedicated and streamlined hardware gaming controls that are widely supported by most games (when needed) and/or peripherals that attach to phones in the same way (like blade pad or icontrolpad2).

    • Tatsuya

      I agree.

      Here we have an android tablet transformed into a gamepad+screen you can only use comfortably as a portable console while we could do the same with a phone/tablet + gamepad and still be able to use them as a phone/tablet when we want to (no bulky gamepad you can't get rid off here).
      Nvidia is going to use their dirty tricks like marketing and exclusivity to force you into believing it's great, while it's just again another android device no one really needs.

      • usermeme

        Well, it is is so simple (and cost effective) to "...do the same with a phone/tablet + gamepad and still be able to use them as a phone/tablet..." then why don't we see any of these products offered?

        • Tomi Golob

          Only because they ARE offered! Lol ...such gamepads are sold globally

        • primalxconvoy

          Because there is no gravity as yet or dominant market force pudhing for this. Investment is needed by either Apple, Google or a coop of strong publishers and devs to Kickstarter "proper" mobile gaming.

    • paleh0rse

      Check out GameKlip.

      • primalxconvoy

        No thanks. That's not what I want. I want ergonomic design that blends with the phone for ease of use and portability, not some ugly clip and cumbersome controller that I have to keep in a bag and wrestle with whenever I want to use it. I might as well just use a psp. Check out "bladepad" on Google.

  • NathanDrago

    Can anyone come up with something more original than A, B, X, Y as a name for the buttons of a console?
    Please.

    • Nick Coad

      Why does it matter what the buttons are called? Further, what benefit would you gain from changing them, that would outweigh the inconvenience of having to relearn the buttons?

      • NathanDrago

        The benefit is having a console with an identity. A, B, X, Y are terribly anonymous and are already used by Xbox and 3DS/Wii (...with different layouts!).
        I'd have liked something totally new for an ambitious console.

        • Tomi Golob

          Oh I get it...you fear somebody patented the alphabet, yes?

          • NathanDrago

            No, I think that buttons can have more original denominations apart from some lame A, B, X, Y.

          • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

            You seem to care a lot about this, so here are the things that need to be figured out with anything "more original".

            1. The iconography has to be something small and easy enough to print on (or just adjacent to) the buttons. The only options here are numbers, letters, or symbols. Sony went with symbols, while everybody else went with letters (the reason in #2).

            2. The iconography needs to be easy to communicate from inside the games, in printed materials, and in online forums. Each of those deserves more detail, but I'm just going to hit the last one. Online discussion is a major part of the experience for many gamers. It would be a drain to repeatedly type out several extra characters, find high ascii characters, or having to describe symbols (like Sony's triangle button).

            3. The iconography must be brandable while having a very open license. There's no point to this if it's not creating a brand identifier; however, the imagery needs to be legally (and freely) licensed to anybody who would want to use it to build a game that runs on the platform or building competing hardware. There are bigger copyright and trademark issues here, but that would turn this item into several pages.

            There are several more things I could write, but I've gone on too long already. I'm sure that labeling the buttons differently, just to be different, is worth the trouble. /s

          • NathanDrago

            There's no trouble implied. Sony didn't go in any trouble with their square, circle, cross and triangle. Project Shield could follow a similar way and go for other symbols, or just choose pure colors (like green, yellow, red and blue already in place). Simple as that.

  • David Hart

    Is there any word on expandable storage?

    • Tze Tuo Cheung Vivas

      There is a microSD slot and USB, so it shouldn't be a problem.

      • David Hart

        Well that pretty much seals the deal, thanks!

  • HellG

    Holy shit is that's assassins creed in the picture? o_O
    Is it being streamed or there's a near perfect android port that i have never heard of before!

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/108482452903817442299/posts Andrew Bone

      you can play steam games streamed from your PC

      • HellG

        Yeah i just read the article, hmm is there anyway i can do this with any other app? not team viewer of course as its slow as shit

        • paleh0rse

          OnLive.

          • HellG

            I know but what we were talking about is streaming from your PC to your phone/tablet not from the cloud to your phone/tablet, any suggestion? :/

  • http://twitter.com/uksceptic Martin

    A multitouch display that I have to prod at a weird angle? Make it removable fools!

    EDIT
    Otherwise this is a awesome device. Obviously.

  • abqnm

    That is one massive heat-sink for the SoC. Hopefully that is just overkill or there because it is overclocked from the factory. If not, I wonder how this will be in phone/tablet applications where there is no room for a heat-sink of that magnitude?

  • br_hermon

    It's innovations like this that make Android so much better than iOS, if only from a developer standpoint. Think about it, devs want to put their games on a platform that people will buy their app on. On iOS you can play your games on your phone or tablet, that's it. But thanks to companies like Nvidea and OUYA, you can play those same games on your phone, tablet, game console, handheld, Android on a stick, etc.

    Apple chooses to keep their ecosystem closed and because of it rely solely on their own hardware sales to help push content sales. With Android, because it's open, game developers don't need to worry if enough Android phone sales happen, they know there's an ever increasing number of other devices out there that can play their game.

    At the end of the day for any type of developer, it boils down to one thing, How can I maximize profit? The answer, by getting your app out in front of as many people as possible and getting income from either sales or in-app-advertising.

    What's just as great about all this is the fact that hardware companies are now working with developers more and more. NVIDIA wants to sell more chips and hardware, so they need your games to wow the customer. The better the game, the better for NVIDIA. And ALL this is possible because Apple closes its doors while Android leaves them wide open! With awesome innovations like the SHIELD, I hope this and many more just take off like rapid fire. further destroying the misconceived value of the iOS development over Android.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RobJohnson90 Rob Johnson

    So I think we can all agree that Nvidia have atleast "won" day 1 of CES?

  • mehim

    this will make quite the emulator machine
    i'm kinda worried about my ouya investment :S

  • Tomi Golob

    Facepalm... i can't wait to read the comments about this after a few months. I bet when it fails, people that praised this will be like " yeah I knew it would fail..."

    :D no I am not wrong , lawlz

  • Matthew Fry

    But was the promo video made and rendered on a Tegra 4? That would be cool.

  • Bob

    How do u buy one I gotta have on it looks better than a xbox or a ps3

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