One of the first items of interest to be revealed at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2013), American ‘visual computing’ experts nVidia have unveiled what they hope will be a unique addition to the console market.
While the end goal will be to make a dent (however small) in a market with the likes of Sony and Microsoft with the mini-console, the company revealed their product to have the innovation of being an ‘Android games console’, running on the Google company’s operating system as a screen attached to a dual-analogue stick games controller.
This display for the console currently known as ‘Project Shield’ is a 5-inch 720p touchscreen that will offer ‘traditional Android games’ and connectivity to standardised Android features such as playing music and viewing video streams from services such as Netflix and Hulu, along with access to the online Android store. In addition, the console will be able to stream PC content to a screen or TV either wirelessly or through an HDMI port.
Technically, Project Shield will be powered by a ‘Tegra 4′ chip (said to be powerful enough to handle 4K UHD quality video and the ‘next-gen graphics engine’ of Unreal Engine 4), while also supporting a 5-10 hour battery life and a ‘microSD slot’ for additional storage.
Several leading figures in the video games industry have voiced their support for the project already, including Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, and Mark Rein, the co-founder of Epic Games, who had this to say about nVidia’s effort: “With Project Shield, nVidia brings an uncompromising, high-performance console experience to mobile devices. Amazing games including Real Boxing and Hawken, which utilize the latest Unreal Engine technology, look fantastic on Project Shield. This is just the beginning, and we’re truly excited to see what more Unreal Engine developers will do with so much horsepower in such a compact gaming device.”
nVidia co-founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang noted: “Project Shield was created by nVidia engineers who love to game and imagined a new way to play. 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.”
While it will probably be more likely to compete with PlayJam than PS3, the Android-led nVidia Project Shield is set for an ‘early summer’ release in North America before launching worldwide by the year end. Set to straddle the line between handheld and home console, will it manage to find a place in the market?