CES 2013 kicks off on January 8th yet that doesn’t stop Nvidia from doing their press conference today, and sadly I didn’t know about it until a little towards the end of the press conference.
Nvidia talked first about a new software solution for the PC called GFE which was pretty interesting. What GFE does is evaluate your computer’s hardware and set the game video settings for you automatically so that you have a smooth 60FPS without fiddling with nasty video settings all the time. This is particularly useful for the gamer migrating from consoles to PCs and that has little to no experience with optimising their gameplay. You get an Xbox or a PlayStation game, you pop it in your console and you expect it to work just outside of the box, that’s not the case for the PC though, unless you have the absolute best of the best, chances are, you WILL have to fiddle with video settings in order to get a stable frame rate, GFE transports the console experience to the PC that way, it just sets everything for you, now I’m a little low on the details since I read a live blog of this part of the conference so forgive me for the lack of more details.
Next thing Nvidia talked about was Nvidia Grid, and this is basically their cloud gaming solution, didn’t read a bunch about it and didn’t catch it on the live stream, but I’m assuming it would be a more successful version of OnLive.
Onto the good stuff, Nvidia announced Tegra 4. Tegra 4 is Nvidia’s newest system on chip solution for handheld devices (phones, tablets, and whatnot -> “Whatnot” will be explained momentarily) it has a whopping 72 GPU cores along with 4 A15 ARM processors, that’s power right there! They showed off some tests and benchmarks with a tablet running Tegra 4 and other tablets, including Google’s Nexus 10 and the iPad 4, needless to say, the Tegra 4 tablet blew past everything.
Now to the REALLY good stuff. Nvidia built this up for a while in the press conference and it was damn worth it. Using the Tegra 4 as driving force, Nvidia unveiled the Nvidia Shield!
The Nvidia Shield is Nvidia’s attempt at a handheld gaming console, and a pretty interesting attempt at that. It runs pure Android, no skinning, they just didn’t mention the version though I’m guessing Jelly Bean 4.2, it is built around a Tegra 4 though no mention was made of other hardware specs, it also has a 720p retinal display mounted on it, and it’s shaped like a controller, which I think is pretty epic, I like the design a lot, reminds me of another old controller shaped gaming handheld, but that sadly didn’t make it big (Can you guess what handheld I’m talking about?).
Nvidia showcased Shield a bit, showing the software running, the Shield layer, though they said it was pure android so it must be just an application that connects to all the games and Tegra Zone, though it looks pretty clean. One of the things they showcased that was pretty amazing is how this handheld connects to TVs via HDMI, the Tegra 4 chip was able to drive a 4k resolution, and they showed that by running a few games on the handheld and on the TV simultaneously. They aslo demonstrated multiplayer via a game called Hawken which looked okay, frame rate was good, it ran smoothly.
What they showed off next though blew my mind! They connected Shield to a PC running Steam (After a while of trying to get Shield to recognise the PC, and failing, and trying again, but hey, they eventually got it!) and what they did next was pure magic, they streamed Steam onto Shield and from Shield to the TV, so basically, they eliminated the need for gaming consoles altogether. Imagine now yourself on the comfort of your couch, watching TV, when all of a sudden, you get the sudden urge of, oh, I don’t know, whacking random people with a thirty inch purple dildo, the conventional way of doing this was to get off your couch, go to your PC and start Saints Row: The Third, however, if you have a Shield nearby, you can just connect to your PC and you get all your Steam library on your Shield in the comfort of your couch, and if you connect your Shield to your TV, you can enjoy this PC gaming goodness on your TV without moving PC cases or anything! It’s absolutely beautiful! They showcased though Need for Speed Most Wanted and Assassin’s Creed III, both ran smoothly and amazingly!
No pricing has been mentioned, though if I were to guess I’d say a $300 price tag would be perfect for it hitting the sweet spot between gaming handheld and tablet, and since it runs Android, it will do what any tablet does, thus the advantage over your everyday gaming handheld.
Let me know what you folks think of this new innovation of Nvidia’s and whether you’ll be interested in purchasing one when it comes out or not!
UPDATE: Nvidia confirmed that Shield will run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with an expected release of Q2 2013!