NVIDIA is Taking the Leap
Most tech enthusiasts will be familiar with the works of NVIDIA. The Californian company, which was founded in 1993, has quietly gone under the radar for the past 20 years, focusing on graphic processors rather than electronic devices.
However, in recent years they have advanced into the gaming world, bringing customers the NVIDIA Shield handheld gaming console and the NVIDIA Shield tablet. These have since been joined by a new device, once again named the NVIDIA Shield, which is their first attempt at a micro-console.
The company are marketing the latest Shield as the “world’s first Android TV console”. Their idea is to get it into as many living rooms across the world, pitching the device as perfect for video, music, apps, and games from numerous sources. A cynical first look at the product would lead many to believe that it is just a Shield portable missing a screen.
While it is true that the core of the console only marginally differs to that of its predecessors, there have been hardware updates all across the board, most notably possessing the latest NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor and a new Maxwell-generation GPU.
The console does not stop there. It also supports 4K video output, giving it visuals on a par with the PS4 and the Xbox One, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, an Ethernet jack, and smaller things like an IR receiver that works in tandem with Logitech’s Harmony remote controls. In regards to expansion, the console houses two 3.0 USB ports, a microSD card slot that can support up to 128GB – something that is very beneficial considering the console has just 16GB of built-in storage – and a Micro-USB port.
In a similar manner to PlayStation TV, the shield’s main focus is streaming and cloud-based content. The NVIDIA Grid Service is where you will go to access games. The Grid streams gameplay of dozens of PC games from a remote server on to your console. NVIDIA suggest a minimum of 5Mbps connection is required for Grid, but recommends 15Mbps for uninterrupted game play. Previous tests show that the server is usable, but, despite having only minimal lag, is not quite up to the mark of PC gaming. The Shield controller does come in for some praise. It is a hybrid of the Xbox and PlayStation controllers, making it easy for both gamers to play with, and it supposedly has a battery life of more than 30 hours.
Games are not solely sourced from the Grid. You have to remember that this console is practically an Android desktop, allowing you to download a whole host of Android games, many of which have been enhanced to befit the high-spec consoles. This is a unique selling point for the product, it opens the floodgates to gaming possibilities, something that has been stymied on PS and Xbox. Presumably, people with the Shield will be able to download online casinos, and access bookmakers, which will be very beneficial for those trying to put their Cheltenham Festival tips to good use. This is just one example of the new gaming opportunities and Android device would open up to the gaming public. Where else can you play Batman: Arkham Asylum, Angry Birds and roulette?
The console will come to market in the United States this May with a starting price of just $199. As of yet, there has been no announcement for the international release date and its intended price. Considering how criminally low the price of this consoles is, you would be wholly surprised if it did not sell well.
NVIDIA have tested the waters with other products and now is the time to take that leap, which they are doing. Let’s hope the console delivers as much as it promises.