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NVIDIA's new Shield is a machine to watch

By Salehuddin Bin Husin - on 4 Mar 2015, 5:09pm

NVIDIA's new Shield is a machine to watch

 The newest Shield is meant to complement the other entries. It'll come with an extra controller, the same one that shipped alongside the Shield Tablet.

NVIDIA's Shield line of devices (a 2-in-1 machine and a tablet), may not have impacted the gaming industry as much as they'd like, but that doesn't seem to have fazed the hardware manufacturer at all. In fact, it seems as if the lack of success is spurring the company on to greater heights if the latest Shield device is any indication.

Simply called the Shield, the set-top box runs Android (presumably Lollipop, just like the Tablet) and is powered by the new Tegra X1. The Tegra X1 has 256 Maxwell-class graphics cores with 3GB RAM, and so it's no surprise that the Shield is capable of running games that require considerable graphics prowess. Crysis 3, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Resident Evil 5 are among the games slated to be available for the console at launch. That's right, Crysis, Resident Evil and a lot more console/PC games are coming to Android, though at this point we're unsure if the games will be made available for devices other than the Shield.

The Shield also comes with 16GB of storage. Since that's nowhere near enough, the Shield packs in a micro-USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports and a microSD card slot. It also has a HDMI port (it supports up to 7.1-channel audio via HDMI too), as well as an Ethernet port. If wireless connectivity is preferred, the Shield has Bluetooth 4.1 functionality and dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi. We've listed its complete specs below.

  • 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 codecs)
  • Audio Features: 7.1 and 5.1-channel 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, MicroSD slot (supports 128GB cards)
  • 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, IR Receiver (compatible with Logitech Harmony)
  • Weight: 654g
  • Dimensions: 210 x 130 x 25 mm

The machine will also make use of NVIDIA's Grid streaming service to deliver game streaming to gamers. All of the titles on the service, currently free till June, will be playable on the new Shield. Once Grid is fully operational, users will be given an option to remain free members (which allows purchases of games and rentals), or pay a subscription fee, which opens up the whole library to the subscriber for unlimited access. We're not sure how many streaming options there are in total, but at least one of them will be 1080p at 60 FPS, with NVIDIA projecting about 150ms latency. In the current Grid beta, streaming is set to 720p, at 30 FPS, with variable latency. As with any streaming service, latency will be the factor that decides if Grid makes the cut.

The Shield  system isn't just meant for gaming though. It also has Android TV functionality, which basically makes it an all-round multimedia machine. With its powerful guts, the Shield is said to be able to deliver 4K content, either via streaming or from physical storage.

The Shield remote will also be available as a separate accessory at the console's launch. It will be only for media playback and navigation, with voice control options. 

The Shield is slated to come out May this year in the US, with a price of US$199 and that price includes a controller. Accessories include additional controllers at US$60 each, the remote and an aluminium stand to allow the console to stand vertically. Local availability is still unknown at this point of time.

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