It already provides the cutting-edge technology that PC gamers rely on to enjoy immersive worlds. And now Californian tech firm Nvidia has decided to grab a slice of the console market.
In a move which surprised the industry, Nvidia revealed its new handheld Android console at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The handheld device, codenamed Project Shield, is expected to be released later this year.
Nvidia is best known for its graphics processing units (GPUs), dominating the market, along with chief rival AMD Graphics Technologies. GPUs are used in everything from gaming and design to advanced science applications with high-performance computers.
The firm also produces Tegra processors for phones and tablets, as well as auto infotainment systems.
But, despite having its fingers in many entertainment pies already, it still came as a surprise that Nvidia had decided to target the console market, especially given that recently released handheld consoles by some of the gaming industry’s biggest names have struggled to compete with smartphones and tablets. Both Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PS Vita has had disappointing sales performances as gamers increasingly turn to their mobile devices.
Clearly for Nvidia though the move into consumer devices is a well thought out one as the firm’s co-founder and chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang revealed Project Shield was “the culmination of five years of work”.
Powered by Android, the console has a 5-inch 720p multi-touch display with a controller which looks similar to that on Xbox 360s. It comes powered, as you would expect, by Nvidia’s latest Tegra 4 micro-processor.
Its battery life is reported to be between five and ten hours for gameplay, or up to 24 hours if you’re using the gadget for HD video playback.
The console is able to stream games over a home Wi-Fi network using the power of Nvidia’s grahics cards for PCs and it can also connect to both Google’s Play app store and Nvidia’s own Tegra store, meaning users would have access to thousands of games and apps.
Demonstrating Project Shield at a press conference during CES, Huang said Project Shield would provide the solution to a problem that had long frustrated gamers who wanted to bring games from their computers to their televisions.
“We’re about to change all that,” he said. He showed onlookers how the device could stream games from a computer as well as how you could bounce the game’s view from Project Shield’s display onto an HDMI-connected external display.
So far, the new console has had pretty mixed reviews from those who have managed to get their hands on it at CES.
Eric Limer at technology site Gizmodo, described it as a “curious little device,” adding: “All in all, Project Shield is a bit weird, but considering the wide spread of things it’s trying to do, that’s not entirely surprising. The weirdness isn’t insurmountable though, or at least might not be depending on the as-yet-to-be-released price-point.”
Nvidia has not, so far, revealed an exact release date for the gizmo, only saying it would be available at some point within the second quarter of this year. Similarly, no details on price are known.