Nvidia announces new gaming handheld

News Aaron Birch 7 Jan 2013 - 18:20

The graphics card giant is getting in on the mobile gaming market with Project Shield…

Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Nvidia has shaken the industry a little by announcing its latest project. Nope, this isn’t a new, beefy GPU, or an upgraded hybrid graphics and central processing tech, but is, instead, a handheld gaming console. However, it’s no normal handheld.

Called Project Shield, the new unit, which is powered by Android and runs on a Tegra 4 chip, is touted to be powerful enough to run next gen content (such as the upcoming Unreal Engine 4) and as well as running all existing Android games, it can also be used to stream PC games, either to its own portable screen, or to a TV, with the traditional dual analogue stick controller on the unit being used to take command of the action.

It’s capable of displaying content, including movies via Netflix and Hulu, in 720p, boasts a microSD slot, HDMI, and at full charge will grant 5-10 hours of battery life, with gaming presumably leaning towards the lower end of that figure. As it’s an Android device, it also supports the Android store.

Already, some industry big names have backed the new platform, such as Ubisoft’s CEO, Yves Guillemot, and Epic Games Co-founder Mark Rein, and with an established graphics company behind it, hopefully it’ll manage to fare better than previous failures like the Gizmondo and awful Nokia N-Gage.

A big question remains, though. The fact that the handheld market not exactly on top form, with the 3DS is doing well, but nothing like its predecessors, and the Vita performing quite poorly, is Nvidia’s move a good one, and is there room for another handheld?

The ability to stream PC games to the unit a very intriguing feature, but whether it’ll be enough to sell the unit remains to be seen. Is playing PC games on a small screen, or on the living room TV worth the extra cost?

Project shield is expected to go on sale in early summer in America and Canada, and elsewhere later in the year. At the time of writing, no pricing has been announced.

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