NVIDIA announces all-new Shield -- a 4K Android TV game console for $199

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Xbox One? PlayStation 4? Yesterday's news. Today, NVIDIA disrupts the console market with the all-new Shield gaming console. While not a gaming console in the traditional sense, it is instead a 4K Android TV media box with extreme graphics performance.

How has NVIDIA pulled off such a thing? By utilizing its new Tegra X1 chip, it can outperform all other TV media boxes. Guess what? It is 35 times more powerful than an Apple TV! Can it really compete with Microsoft and Sony? At $199, absolutely.

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"We need to start with our latest mobile processor, the Tegra X1, which is 35X faster than the Apple TV. Being faster than a Smart TV device is good, but not good enough for great games. You need a platform to let developers have a platform that lets them deliver great games. If you compare it to Xbox 360, it has 2X the performance, 6x the memory at one-fifth the power", says Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO, NVIDIA.

NVIDIA shares the following specs.

  • Processor NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor with 256-core Maxwell GPU with 3GB RAM
  • Video Features 4K Ultra-HD Ready with 4K playback and capture up to 60 fps (VP9, H265, H264)
  • Audio Features 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound pass through over HDMI, High-resolution audio, playback up to 24-bit/192kHz over HDMI, and USB High-resolution audio upsample to 24-bit/192hHz over USB
  • Storage 16GB
  • Wireless 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1/BLE
  • Interfaces Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0, Two USB 3.0 (Type A) Micro-USB 2.0, MicroSD slot (supports 128GB cards), IR Receiver (compatible with Logitech Harmony)
  • Gaming Features NVIDIA GRID streaming service NVIDIA GameStream
  • Weight and Size Weight: 23oz / 654g Height: 5.1in / 130mm Width: 8.3in / 210mm
we need to start with our latest mobile processor, the Tegra X1, which is 35X faster than the Apple TV. Being faster than a Smart TV device is good, but not good enough for great games. You need a platform to let developers have a platform that lets them deliver great games. If you compare it to xbox 360, it has 2X the performance, 6x the memory at one-fifth the power. - See more at: http://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2015/03/03/live-made-to-game/#sthash.DcKuh8sZ.dpuf
we need to start with our latest mobile processor, the Tegra X1, which is 35X faster than the Apple TV. Being faster than a Smart TV device is good, but not good enough for great games. You need a platform to let developers have a platform that lets them deliver great games. If you compare it to xbox 360, it has 2X the performance, 6x the memory at one-fifth the power. - See more at: http://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2015/03/03/live-made-to-game/#sthash.DcKuh8sZ.dpuf
we need to start with our latest mobile processor, the Tegra X1, which is 35X faster than the Apple TV. Being faster than a Smart TV device is good, but not good enough for great games. You need a platform to let developers have a platform that lets them deliver great games. If you compare it to xbox 360, it has 2X the performance, 6x the memory at one-fifth the power. - See more at: http://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2015/03/03/live-made-to-game/#sthash.DcKuh8sZ.dpuf

The console will launch with over 50 available Android games. Besides the normal Google Play store, NVIDIA will be bundling its own store, which curates the best Android games that are guaranteed to run well on the Shield.

Best of all, the controller is included in the box. Yes, rather than bundle a remote and sell the controller separately, NVIDIA is wisely doing the opposite. After all, while Shield can handle multimedia, gaming is the top focus.

Huang showed demos of both Doom 3 and Crytek's Crysis 3 and both of them ran flawlessly. Crysis even ran in multiplayer mode, without any hiccups. It is awe-inspiring.

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Cevat Yerli of Crytek says, "we got to access the Shield console and were amazed at the power of Tegra X1. We compiled it, we had it running and it was amazing".

NVIDIA shares some of the AAA Android titles with descriptions below.

  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel -- This offbeat sci-fi shooter, the latest chapter in the Borderlands saga, arrived for PCs last October. Now it's coming to Android as a SHIELD exclusive.
  • War Thunder -- Mix it up with opponents playing on console or the PC with this World War II multiplayer combat games, which makes its debut on Android with this SHIELD exclusive.
  • Doom 3 BFG Edition -- Doom kicked off the PC gaming revolution. Doom 3 updated this sci-fi shooter for a new generation of gamers. And Doom 3 BFG edition polishes this action-packed package to a high shine. Don’t miss it.
  • Resident Evil 5 -- An action-packed classic, Resident Evil brings a shot of caffeine to the survival horror genre this franchise pioneered.
  • Crysis 3 -- This sprawling open-world shooter is set in a richly-detailed New York, circa 2047 – and you won’t believe what’s happened to the place.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengenance -- the action in this hack and slash game moves fast, and SHIELD keeps up. If you like intense boss fights, you’ll love this game.

My favorite aspect, however, is the promise that it will be "whisper quiet". While Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are not obnoxiously loud, they are definitely audible, and certainly not whisper quiet. Think about it; you are probably putting Shield in your living room for watching movies too. Do you really want to be distracted by a loud fan? Hell no!

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The optional Shield remote includes a microphone for voice commands and looks very comfortable to hold. Best of all, it recharges using microUSB, so you never have to worry about buying batteries.

So are the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 really yesterday's news? Not really. Both consoles will dominate for the time being. However, NVIDIA has a real shot at making a significant dent in the market. Not only is the Shield console less expensive, but the games should be a fraction of the cost too. Parents buy consoles, and $199 is a very attractive price.

Will you buy the Shield for $199 when it launches in May? Tell me in the comments.

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