Nvidia’s new Shield console includes some impressive gaming hardware: the box can smoothly run games with hefty system requirements, such as Battlefield 4 and Crysis 3. But Nvidia isn’t just hoping to attract the attention of gamers.
The new Shield also runs Android TV, Google’s new media center operating system, and can play videos in 4K resolution, making it a jack-of-all-trades home theater centerpiece.
The Nvidia Shield will cost a dollar under $200 when it launches in May, and will be able to play 4K video from Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play. If you have ultra-high-definition videos saved on your hard drive, the Shield will be able to stream those to your TV as well. Right now, the Shield is the only streaming-video box that supports 4K – the Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV all top out at 1080p resolution. Not too many people own 4K TVs right now, but eventually it could become the standard, so the Shield may be a good option if you want to future-proof your streaming experience.
The new Shield was announced at the 2015 Game Developers Conference on Wednesday. It will be the first device to run Nvidia’s new Tegra X1 system-on-a-chip (SoC), which was announced in January at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. The 64-bit chip includes a 256-core Nvidia graphics engine for super-fast performance. Nvidia says its SoC is more than one and a half times faster than Apple’s A8X, which powers the iPad Air 2. It also makes the new Shield about twice as powerful as the Xbox 360 while consuming only half the power.
The Shield supports the Nvidia Grid service, which streams games from powerful servers to users without the need for the games to be installed locally. Gamers can, for an as-yet-undisclosed price, stream games at 60 frames per second with 1080p resolution to their Shield. They can also download games from Google Play to run on the Shield.
For gamers, the Shield ships with its own controller. But if you’re just interested in streaming video at an incredibly high resolution, you’ll spend more time using the Bluetooth remote (which appears to be sold separately, according to Ross Miller at The Verge). The remote features a microphone for voice searching, similar to that of the Amazon Fire TV, and a headphone jack so you can plug in a set of earbuds and watch without disturbing anyone else in the room.