January 9, 2013

Nvidia’s Eyes Set On Hand-Held Gaming

Well, it’s finally here: Nvidia has announced their next tech innovation, and boy does it look impressive. Dubbed Project Shield, does this little guy really live up to the hype that it boasts, nearly seven years after Sony and Nintendo have dominated this genre of gaming?

Recently, gamers and computer enthusiasts alike were treated to a cloud of rumors and possible innovations that Nvidia might possibly be showcasing at CES 2013. PC locals know Nvidia through their graphics card lineup, but to the rest of the tech world, they are nothing short of a whisper in the wind. That whisper will be turning into a crap-in-your-pants worthy roar this year, thanks to Nvidia’s new hand-held gaming beauty, at the present moment code named Project Shield.

I’m certain that this isn’t the product’s final name, so bear with me.

At first glance, you’ll notice how strikingly similar it looks to an Xbox controller, with A, B, X and Y buttons on its right section. Not only this, but the size and shape of the controller resembles one as well.  Nevertheless, the console itself looks clean, solid and sexy enough to whip out and show your friends the next time Show and Tell roles around.

Project Shield is admittedly impressive in looks, and almost as impressive in concept, but certain aspects of its design seem peculiar to me.

Firstly, as well as looking like an Xbox controller, it’s also as BIG as an Xbox controller. That won’t bode well for hand-held gamers who enjoy actually putting their systems inside their pockets. Hand-held consoles have the luxury of being just that: hand-held. Now its size isn’t necessarily a negative aspect for the category that it targets, but it’ll be a serious issue for many.

Secondly, it has an approximate 5 by 4 inch screen that is attached and flappable along the nose of the controller. This is every console gamer’s dream; HD resolution fitted directly onto the controller while at the same time giving comfort and ease to the FPS crowd.

What’s setting this baby apart from the PSP and DS lineup is the fact that it’s the first hand held device that is going to be Android-optimized. This is a bit awkward if you usually look at hand-held consoles from an imperialistic stand point. For example, the Gameboy and DS are the product of Nintendo’s lineup, yes? That only leaves the PSP, which was a Sony device, while Microsoft never bothered to innovate its own rendition of a hand-held.

And here we have Shield, which will be regarded as a PC hand-held system due to its ability to wirelessly stream PC titles.

Project Shield will be the first hand-held with an Android based UI in mind, and if that doesn’t drop your jaw, than Nvidia’s Tegra 4 processor will. Tegra 4 is packing 72 GPU’s inside, already making photo streaming and screen resolution a dream come true. With the Tegra 4 implemented inside Shield, your looking at a hand-held device with the hardware to push 720p HD video graphics and photo streaming like a charm.

The question that gamers might have is why exactly after seven years would Nvidia bother with hand-held gaming. I believe that this is because, for the longest time, PC gaming has been thought of primarily as a desktop experience. This differs from the traditional console gaming experience because you have the luxury of wirelessly streaming PC games from Nvidia’s GRID, which is cloud-based. With an HDMI port connected to an HDTV, gamers can take the games connected on Shield and port it to a big screen so that you can share the PC-like experience with your friends.

When you think of how long PC gamers have wanted this, you began to understand how revolutionary this new direction in gaming can be.

This won’t amount to anything special unless developers turn their eyes towards the optimization of their games for a port to this console. News of its game management system or hard drive space hasn’t been released yet, but for the time being I’d say we have a very solid gaming device in the works.

Is it a possible contender to the PS Vita? I will say maybe, since the Vita has boasted 720p resolution as well as the loyalty of Sony fans for a few years now. Project Shield has the loyalty of an Android fan base, and as such can add some spice into the hand-held console market.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Image Credit: Nvidia

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