Nvidia has created a monster. We knew about their new chip to be announced at CES, the Tegra 4, but who would have expected they would announce a new handheld gaming system at the same time? Introducing Project Shield, designed to play both Android games through Google Play as well as stream PC games from a local PC. Add in 5-inch multi-touch screen running at 1280x720 and the utility to be used a controller, all that's really missing is a price point.
Perhaps most surprising is how directly this handheld is being targeted at hardcore gamers. Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer at NVIDIA, offered the following statement:
"Project SHIELD was created by NVIDIA engineers who love to game and imagined a new way to play. 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."
The demo shown during the CES announcement showed several games being played on Project Shield, including Hawken and Blood Sword: Sword of Ruin. Wireless game broadcasting was also shown, with both Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Assassin's Creed 3 streamed in via Steam and Big Picture mode. Apparently lag wasn't noticeable either, but folk will need some hands on time to ultimately decide that.
Basically, everything handheld gamers have been begging for over the past few years has been bundled into Project Shield. A Tegra 4 processor, an open Android OS (currently Jelly Bean), a retinal gaming display, console-grade controls and probably plenty else. Add in support from big developers like Ubisoft and Epic and Project Shield is a platform to watch out for, even with no exclusive games.
Project Shield is currently planned for a Q2 release, but no price point has yet to be announced. Whether Project Shield is the device's final name or not is yet to be seen.