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Nvidia's Shield console is a 4K Android TV box that streams full PC games from the cloud

Mark Hachman | March 6, 2015
Nvidia launches the Shield console, which can play movies and music from Google Play, or else download and even stream games from the Nvidia GRID service.

To start Nvidia's Made to Game event late Tuesday, chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang promised an advanced television, a supercomputer, and a gaming console. As it turned out, it was all the same product: the Nvidia Shield. No, not the 2013 handheld.

"Desktops, workstations, notebooks, data centers, cloud, card-that journey has been incredible indeed, and today I want to talk about a brand new place that journey has taken us-the living room," Huang said at a press event near the Game Developer Conference on Tuesday night.

Billed as the first 4K Android television, the $199 console is a small box that Nvidia executive Jen-Hsun Huang said was designed to look good in any direction. Inside is gigabit ethernet, an advanced Wi-Fi system, and the Tegra X1-the "mobile superchip" that Nvidia launched at CES in January. The Shield is capable of receiving 4K video at 40 bits per pixel at 60Hz when those services become available, Huang said. The console's also battery-powered, and can run 40 hours on a single charge.

The Shield also packs an HDMI 2.0 port with HDCP 2.2 compliance. With the Tegra X1 capable of decoding H.264 and more importantly H.265 streams, the Shield should be able to decode the protected 4K video streams from Netflix and Amazon although no official support has been announced from those two services.

And yes, the rumors were true: It's compatible with Nvidia's cloud-based Grid game-streaming service. More on the Shield's gaming capabilities in a bit.

shield remote

The Shield will be accompanied by an optional Bluetooth receiver, complete with a one-touch button and a microphone. The svelte stick has the capability to serve as a Bluetooth receiver, so that users can plug in headphones and stream video privately. It can also serve as a volume control just by stroking its surface.

Don't feel like spending money for a fancy controller. Fear not-Nvidia's Shield will be bundled with a game controller reminiscent of the original Shield handheld.

Smart devices with applications will replace dedicated devices over time, just as smartphones have replaced dedicated cameras, Huang said. What's really exciting are the applications that you've never dreamed. "These applications are simply not predictable," Huang said, predicting the same trend would occur in the smart television.

shield internals

A 3D rendering of the Shield's internals. See the mechanical hard drive?

Because the Shield is an Android TV, users can search for actors shown on the screen and pull up information about each actor being shown. The included microphone in the remote also allows the user to search for movies or music orally, using the Google Play that's tied to the Android TV service.

 

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