At CES earlier this year, NVIDIA announced a new gaming handset, Project Shield. Sporting a 5-inch screen, the new Tegra4 chip and the ability to stream games from your PC, Project Shield definitely got my attention. So like any good journalist wannabe I did some research and tried to figure out, in my humble opinion, just what this new device is and whether at the end of the day, it’s something I would throw my miniscule college student allowance at and purchase.
First of all, let’s get something out of the way, a lot of people are calling Project Shield a console but it is not. NVIDIA’s Project Shield is an Android tablet with an integrated controller capable of streaming, in real-time, AAA Windows PC titles. Very clearly, a 3DS or Vita “this ain’t” if we’re talking about playing Skyrim, Borderlands 2 and other top-flight Steam games on a handheld.
[adsense250itp]Project Shield will sport a 5-inch 1280×720 retinal multi-touch display with 294 dpi. In plain English, this means that even on its small 5-inch screen, games will look great. The kicker here is that this 5-inch display is attached, clamshell style, to a console-style gaming controller that looks uncannily like the Xbox 360 controller and there’s even a small NVIDIA logo/button where the Xbox home button should be. Holding the Project Shield device will be akin to holding an Xbox 360 controller with a thin clamshell sort of cover over the face buttons. The device comes with the usual ports such as HDMI to connect to televisions, a 3.5mm audio jack and other standard ports. The new Tegra4 chip is supposedly six times faster than the current Tegra3 and if current Tegra3 optimized Android games are anything to go by, we can expect serious graphical horsepower when the Tegra4 comes out. Now that we’ve done a brief rundown of what Project Shield actually is in terms of hardware I can start to ask, as a gamer, do I actually want one?
In times like this, a list of Pros and Cons often help so lo and behold I shall make one!
Overall, looking at all this and knowing myself as a hardcore gamer, I don’t think I’ll pick up Project Shield. Granted, it’s an amazing piece of tech but the niche for this device is way too specific to justify buying. NVIDIA wants people to enjoy AAA gaming on-the-go, and that’s a noble thought, but think for a moment that if you are going to be playing Skyrim with the vastness of the world before you on your large TV or PC monitor, will Project Shield’s 5-inch screen give you the same cinematic experience a proper display will?
There are definitely things I’d like to see added and 3G/4G support is number one on that list. With 4G becoming more and more widespread, there’s no better time to jump on the bandwagon and make Project Shield truly mobile. I would love if NVIDIA, already having fostered close ties with the likes of Sony and Nintendo, could create an official emulation program for the Shield for PSX or classic Nintendo titles and set up a virtual console sort of thing where we would be charged App store prices for classics from days of yore. After all, the controller does open it up to fully experiencing those old gems again. Personally, I’d love to play Front Missions 3 again.
At the end of the day, it’s always exciting when there’s new tech out, especially from a great company like NVIDIA but in my humble opinion, Project Shield is more miss than hit.