Nvidia Unveils the Daunting Project Shield

A game changer for 3DS?

Update:

We originally wrote that we believe this system may use a broadband connection to stream PC games from platforms such as Steam. In actual fact, the official product page explains that only a compatible router is required, with the device utilising a local connection between the system and a GeForce equipped PC. Details can be found on the official product page.

Original article:

The dedicated handheld gaming market has been evolving in the past couple of years, with greater pressure on Nintendo and Sony's systems from alternative devices such as smartphones and tablets. While the scale of the impact and the future can be debated endlessly, it's undeniable that the rise of the Angry Birds generation of touch screen gamers has moved the goalposts in the industry.

Although 3DS has been doing fairly well despite this, another big-name competitor is entering the fray that brings a fresh approach to handheld gaming. This time around it's Nvidia — the technology company best known for its graphic processors — which has unveiled Project Shield, an Android device with a clamshell design and control inputs similar to an Xbox 360/Wii U Pro Controller layout. Due to its Android platform this device will have access to games on the Google Play market, but the game-changing aspect is its ability to stream and play PC games over Wi-Fi, a little like off-screen play with the Wii U GamePad. PC service Steam will work with the handheld, and Nvidia plans to support future streaming from the device to a TV.

In terms of specifications, it should be noted that this is an impressive piece of kit. It has a powerful processor capable of outputting in HD to external screens, high quality sound capabilities and a micro-SD slot for memory expansion. In terms of what truly matters for handheld gaming, its battery will reportedly support five to ten hours of play, while the screen itself is a 5-inch, 720p retinal multitouch display, which should look exceptionally crisp.

Is this a game-changer for 3DS, Vita and even handheld gaming as a whole? It's too early to say for a few reasons: Nvidia hasn't given a price, if it's too high that will surely harm its chances, while streaming PC games may also require a fast and usage-limit free internet connection, a luxury that not everyone has — that fact alone arguably prevents cloud gaming from truly taking off at the moment. For those without good enough Wi-Fi (read — router, see update at the top of this article), this will simply be an android device with physical inputs, which will surely only be attractive at a low price.

It's big news in the handheld gaming market, however, and is set to arrive in Q2 this year. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

[via theverge.com]