Nvidia, makers of fine graphics cards and mobile processors, announced Sunday evening its intentions to enter the increasingly lucrative Android hardware market. Much like its other products, however, its newest device will have more of a focus on gaming than general applications.
Nvidia's new portable device is called Project SHIELD. It's a 5-inch 720p retina display attached to a console-quality controller. The device is powered by Nvidia's new Tegra 4 mobile processor so it can push the latest and greatest mobile graphics. Project SHIELD offers the extra benefit of being able to stream content from a PC so players can enjoy their Steam library on the go.
“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.”
With Project SHIELD, it looks like Nvidia is ready to compete with other dedicated Android gaming systems like Ouya, which is powered by Nvidia's older Tegra 3 processor. Unlike Ouya, however, SHIELD remains portable while also being able to play the latest PC games through a GTX equipped PC. It's an interesting product for sure, but it remains to be seen if Nvidia is making the right move here. Do PC gamers, the obvious target audience for this device, want to play their PC games on a 5-inch screen when they could play them on their 1920x1080 monitor?
Either way, we won't know for sure until later this year. Nvidia says that Project SHIELD is expected to launch in Q2 of 2013. There was no mention of price either, but don't expect it to be cheap. I'd ballpark it in the $400 range, but Nvidia could surprise with a lower price point if it's really serious about getting this into the hands of PC gamers.