Nvidia announces own 'Shield' gaming device at CES

Kicking off the Consumer Electronics Show, the chipmaker unwraps a new quad-core portable gaming console that bears its own name.

Nvidia Shield
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveils Nvidia Shield, a brand-new gaming device that leverages Android and the Tegra 4 quad-core processor. James Martin/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Who says you can't teach an old chipmaker new tricks? Not Nvidia. At CES, the company announced its own gaming device, Nvidia Shield, which will bear its brand name as well as its quad-core Tegra 4 processor.

Project Shield is small -- smaller than a Wii U controller. Fittingly, it looks like a portable Xbox controller with a small flip-up screen. It's got analog joysticks, buttons, and controllers. Nvidia promises between 5 and 10 hours of gameplay on Shield.

Still a prototype, the final name and design could change before the product goes to market, as soon as in a few months, an Nvidia spokesperson said.

"It's pure Android," says Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang. There's nothing proprietary about it; all jacks are standard and the platform is open. It comes with a microSD card slot.

Shield can connect to the cloud to play Android games, TegraZone games, and PC games for PCs with compatible GeForce graphics cards. It also supports multiplayer mode.

Big strides
The move from making chipsets to assembling the hardware that houses them is a bold one for Nvidia, which traditionally partners with device-makers to power their mobile and desktop computing hardware.

Becoming a hardware manufacturer in addition to creating processors would give Nvidia another revenue stream, as well as greater latitude in device designs that house their chips.

Nvidia Shield
A closer look at, Nvidia Shield for hardcore gamers. James Martin/CNET

Though a surprising move, Nvidia does have some experience speccing out and creating devices. The company currently builds reference models that they then actively pitch to hardware partners, like Asus and Acer, for instance.

Most recently, Nvidia partnered with Leyden Energy to provide a longer-lasting battery for a tablet reference design.

Nvidia isn't showing off its new tablet tonight, but CNET tablet reviewer Eric Franklin will get photos, video, and first impressions as soon as possible.

 

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