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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.

Games, games, and more games

But the Shield also will "do for gaming what Netflix did for videos," Huang added. The Tegra X1, with 256 Maxwell cores and 3GB of memory, will expand the reach of gaming, he said, claiming that the console has twice as much power as the Xbox 360 found in so many homes today.

shield versus xbox 360

Nvidia's Shield Store will include over 50 native games that gamers can download and play at launch, including Borderlands: The Pre-SequelHalf-Life 2 Episode 1, and more. Tim Willits of iD showed off the Doom 3 BFG Edition, which looked fantastic on the new console. It can even run Crysis 3 at 30 frames per second

The Shield will also stream games from the cloud from Nvidia's Grid, which was previously a beta app and now is an official service. Grid streams games at either 720p or 1080p at 60 frames per second, with a premium tier unlocking the higher-performance streaming service. It will serve users worldwide, Huang said.

"We could expand the reach of gaming in the way that no one in the history of mankind could," Huang said.

grid stats

Nvidia already has a history in streaming games. It launched Grid in North America and Western Europe as a free beta for buyers of the Nvidia Shield handheld or Shield Tablet. Until the free preview ends on June 30, 2015, users can access GRID at no charge. Nvidia has been adding at least one new game every week (though usually two). In our inital tests, the service was smooth as silk, though Huang said games may have up to 150 milliseconds of latency, which seems a bit worrisome. (Many people start to notice lag around 30 milliseconds, for reference.)

But here's the thing: You'll also have to rent or buy at least some of the games, with many AAA games becoming available the day they launch.

Pricing and exact details for the subscription plans were not announced. There was no mention of the Shield supporting GameStream, Nvidia's solution for streaming games from a local GeForce-equipped PC games to the earlier Shield Tablet and Shield handheld. However, Matthew Widener, Nvidia's technical marketing manager for notebooks, said that GameStream is indeed supported by the Shield, but that it wasn't mentioned during the presentation for fear of overshadowing the rest of the content. 

The Nvidia Shield controller comes with the Shield and it works with wired Xbox 360 controllers too.

"That's the easy part," Widener said.

For 1080p gaming, you'll need a 30-Mbit downstream connection, Widener said; for 720p, about half that. Good luck trying to keep under your provider's data cap, though.

 

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