Forgive our ignorance that alluded CES 2013 would be missing its share of shock announcements - this is one that we certainly didn’t see coming. Chip manufacturer NVIDIA has just unveiled its very own handheld gaming system called ‘Project Shield’ that it says is capable of delivering console-quality games on the go, and even has the functionality to stream full PC games to the device over Wi-Fi.
Powered by the newly-announced Tegra 4 processor (a quad-core CPU, and described by NVIDIA itself as the ‘fastest mobile processor on the market’); Project Shield also boasts a built-in, awkward-looking 5-inch 720p display (294ppi), a 33Wh battery that the company claims will last a solid five-to-ten hours of play time (around 24 hours of HD video playback), and a microSD slot for additional storage. Built on the Android platform, Project Shield will put the wealth of content of the Google Play store at players’ fingertips from the get-go, as well as all applications and games in NVIDIA’s own Tegra Zone.
With enough power under its hood to push 4K video to TVs over HDMI, Shield is certainly no slouch in the handheld arena. That, combined with the promise that the device will allow compatible PC games to be streamed to the system over Wi-Fi (albeit when paired to a PC running GeForce GTX 650 or higher) and you have yourself one of the more intriguing videogame announcements in recent months.
But nevertheless, NVIDIA’s reveal is an odd one from our perspective. With current and upcoming Android-based smartphones only further pushing the bar in terms of processing power week-on-week, month-on-month, pinning hopes on a handheld system running Android solely for the purpose of playing videogames seems, well, fairly redundant. The addition of dedicated gaming controls will no doubt be well received by those left wanting more with touch-based alternatives, but with definite signs the market of £200+ handheld systems and full-price portable games is struggling, NVIDIA will surely have to have something more up its sleeve with Project Shield in order to convince us to take the plunge. For the moment, unconvinced.