With its Project Shield, Nvidia is following Microsoft’s footsteps, becoming its own OEM customer for its latest products. The surprise announcement of a hybrid Android-based mobile gaming console and TV video streaming box also deflected attention from Project Denver, the soup-to-nuts family of ARM processors Nvidia announced at CES last year but has yet to release or detail.
Nvidia’s Shield is the first system to use the company’s new Tegra 4 integrated applications processor. It trumps news from the graphics company’s own customers in the same way Microsoft announced its Surface tablet ahead of any Windows 8 mobile devices from its OEMs.
In the wake of Surface, few OEMs have shipped Windows 8 tablets to date. Since its debut late last year, Surface itself has failed to gain as much market traction as many initially expected.
Shield initially got mixed reviews, including one from an editor of Gamasutra who called the hybrid of a portable game player and TV streaming box “a mishmash…and not really a winning combination overall.” The review noted many Android portable gaming systems and streaming set-top boxes are coming to the market.
Nvidia surprised CES crowds by launching Project Sheild, a 5-inch portable game console and video streaming box powered by its new Tegra 4 chip.
An analyst was more bullish. “No other announced Android-based console comes close to delivering the performance and features of Nvidia’s Project Shield,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal of Moor Insights and Strategy (Austin). “Shield is flexible in that it runs native Android apps and games as well as PC titles on the consumers computer and can display on the unit and an HDTV,” he said.
Powered by the new Tegra 4 chip, Shield sports a five-inch, 720-progressibve pixel multitouch display and runs Android Jelly Bean. It supports 802.11n 2x2 Wi-Fi, HDMI and microSD. The device will go on sale under the Nvidia brand at mid-year.