NVIDIA will launch its first game console designed for the living room in May. The new NVIDIA Shield console is a box with an NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor, support for 4K video, and Google’s Android TV software.
That doesn’t mean it’s just for Android games though. The system will support NVIDIA’s GRID game streaming service which means you can use it to stream games without spending money on a gaming PC.
The NVIDIA Shield console will launch in May for $199.
NVIDIA will sell the console with a single controller and offer optional accessories including extra controllers, a Bluetooth remote control (with voice support and a headphone jack), and a stand.
If you’ve already got a Shield controller for one of NVIDIA’s other devices, that’ll work with the new console too.
Like other boxes with Android TV software, you’ll be able to use the NVIDIA Shield to stream content from YouTube, Google Play, Netflix, and other online media sites. It will also come with PLEX media center software preloaded. But its main selling point is the gaming experience.
NVIDIA says there will be more than 50 Android games optimized for the Shield available when it launches — including Crysis 3, Doom 3: BFG Edition, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. You can also use NVIDIA GameStream to load up PC games on a computer with a compatible NVIDIA graphics card and stream those titles over your home network to the Shield console so you can play them in the living room.
Or you can use NVIDIA’s GRID cloud game streaming service. NVIDIA hosts the games on its own servers and streams them to your console. That lets you buy and play newer games like the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or pay a subscription to access more than 50 PC games including Batman: Arkham Origins and Grid 2.
NVIDIA says GRID lets you play PC games without at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second with about 150ms of latency. There will also be a cheaper option for folks that are happy with 720p game streaming.
This is actually NVIDIA’s third device to wear the Shield name. The company also offers a $199 handheld game system with a Tegra 4 processor and a $299 NVIDIA Shield Tablet with a Tegra K1 chip. You can plug either of them into a PC with an HDMI cable.
GRID streaming will be available for Shield tablet and handheld users as well.
But the new Shield console is the first with a Tegra X1 chip. It has 3GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in storage, and a microSD card slot.
The system supports 4K video and 7.1 channel audio, features dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, and Gigabit Ethernet. The system has two USB 3.0 ports, a micro USB 2.0 port, and an IR receiver that lets you use a Logitech Harmony or another third-party report.
It measures 8.3″ x 5.1″ x 1″ and weighs less than 2 pounds.
NVIDIA isn’t the only company working on an Android TV box designed for gaming. Razer introduced its own micro-console called the Razer Forge at CES in January. That device has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, support for Razer’s own game streaming technology (for streaming games from a PC on your home network — something NVIDIA’s devices also support), and a starting price of $100 (or $150 if you want a game controller).