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Nvidia Shield: the 4K games console that costs just $199

Barry Collins
4 Mar 2015
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Nvidia Shield becomes a low-cost, streaming alternative to Xbox One and PlayStation 4

The console wars just got a new entrant with the unveiling of the Nvidia Shield, a 4K-capable games console that runs on the Android TV platform. Nvidia has previously released an Android tablet under the Shield brand, which was designed to stream games over the company's Grid service. The new Shield console is designed for the exact same purpose, providing under-the-TV competition for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. 

The console is powered by the Nvidia Tegra X1 processor that the company unveiled earlier this year. The 256-core chip is the first mobile processor to offer a teraflop of throughput, according to Nvidia, and will be completed by 3GB of RAM. That will allow the console to output at resolutions of up to 4K at 60fps. 

Clearly conscious of the need for reliable streaming, the Shield incorporates a high-end Wi-Fi chip that supports 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. 

The console itself has a striking, angular design that's quite unlike any of the other set-top boxes that may be lurking under your television. It comes with an accompanying controller, which adopts the now conventional two joystick/one joypad/four button design. Extra controllers cost $60.

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What about the games? Titles currently available through the Grid streaming service include the Batman Arkham series, Borderlands 2, Alan Wake, various titles from the Lego series, and Saints Row 4. Nvidia also promised that games including Portal, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Half-Life 2: Episode 1 will be added to the storeIn short, you're not generally looking at the latest AAA titles that are available on the Microsoft and Sony consoles, but games that are at least a couple of generations old, although Nvidia says new titles will soon be added to the Grid library on the day of their release.

The Shield isn't a pure gaming device, either. It includes support for various Android TV apps, including YouTube, Plex and the Google movie and music stores. An optional remote control, which includes a headphone jack for wireless audio streaming of music or movie soundtracks, is also available.

Perhaps the most compelling thing about the Nvidia Shield is its price, $199, which significantly undercuts rival consoles. Games can either be rented individually or you can pay for an all-you-can-eat subscription which gives you access to all the 50 or so titles in the Grid library. Subscription prices will be revealed when the console launches in May. 

 

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