Android gaming handhelds seem to be en vogue these days as several have received funding or are about to receive funding on crowd funding platforms. NVIDIA on the other hand does not need funding and the company's Project Shield Android gaming handheld may have come as a surprise even for hardcore Nvidia fans.
The handheld looks like a cross-breed of a gaming pad with a 5-inch touchscreen that are attached to each other which makes the whole device look rather clunky and related to Panasonic's Jungle. It is a clamshell design which means that you can move the screen over the game pad for easy transportation or storage.
Hardware-wise, it is powered by Nvidia's new Tegra 4 processor, the 5-inch 720p HD display, an HDMI port for video output, a micro-USB port and a micro-SD port to extend the storage. No word yet on other device specs or price. According to The Verge, the device is good for between 5 to 10 hours of play time before you need to connect it to a power source to recharge the system batteries.
The Shield runs on Android giving its users access to Google Play to install and use apps and games from the store right on the device. What makes the Shield special in a way is its ability to stream games from a desktop PC running a GeForce GTX 650 or higher video card via Wi-Fi to the device so that games running on the PC can be played on the handheld.
While not yet available, Nvidia stated that it would add capabilities to stream contents from the Shield system to larger displays, a TV for instance, so that games can be played on the larger device if available.
Project Shield will be available in the second quarter of 2013, no word yet on pricing or if availability will be limited to select markets.
While I had no chance to test the Shield yet, I can't really see it getting much traction in the gaming market. Price will play an important role here and if it is more expensive than current generation gaming handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS it is likely that it won't sell overly well.
While it sounds nice that you can stream Steam games to the handheld to play them on it, I can't really come up with a reason for that. Why would I play games on the Shield if the PC is in reach? Sure, someone could be working on the PC and that may be one of the situations where this may come in handy, provided that the PC has enough performance to stream game contents and let another person work on it.
You can connect Project Shield to the television via the HDMI port right now and that is probably something that a lot of owners will do.
What's your take on this? Do you think it will appeal to a mass market?
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