The industry just keeps throwing curve balls and CES tossed a swirly one, straight out of Nvidia’s camp. Is it in the zone or in the dirt?
Nvidia, the leader in GPU technology for personal computers, has no doubt garnered the attention of the video game industry. Up until now, their focus has strongly revolved around gaming hardware - in particular, videocards. However, at this year’s CES, the visual computing tech corporation has unsleeved their trump card in the form of a fully fledged handheld console. Are they biting off more than they can chew or have they checked the king? Let’s take a look.
First, we have the hardware, codenamed, “Project Shield.” Under the hood, it houses a custom 72 core Nvidia GeForce GPU/quad core A15 CPU. That’s stronger than any handheld ever conceived. The controller features all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a conventional gamepad: D-pad, X, Y, B, A, buttons, dual analog sticks; with a multi-touch, flip display, on a 5-inch 720p screen. Furthermore, it has built in speakers and touts some of the best wifi around in 802.11n 2x2 MIMO (if those numbers make sense to you).
Sounds like a high-powered handheld, right? Where’s the hook? The answer to that lies with it’s Android Jelly Bean OS - catalog and all - and its wireless streaming from a “GTX-powered PC.” This includes any title from your Steam library (if you have an account). The downside? You have a GTX 650 or higher on your desktop to stream. How smooth that streaming is, has yet to be determined. Nintendo’s Wii U streaming is seamless; I have faith that Nvidia’s unit will execute as well.
Currently, Project Shield has no release date or price point. The latter is my only concern going forward. With tech like the above mentioned, this system will be anything but cheap. I see a price tag easily topping Wii U’s $350 (deluxe version) price. Think $400 and up. After all, Nvidia just sells hardware, not games. They don’t have the luxury of selling at a loss, like the big boys.
Bottomline: Nintendo and Sony have a new challenger with some impressive specs. Both companies have enjoyed a competition free market for almost a decade. Big N has owned the handheld gaming market for last 2 decades; and with Vita’s slumping run, and 3DS’s steady, but familiar offering, albeit slightly refreshed a with glass-less 3D novelty, Nvidia’s device comes with welcomed arms.
Make no mistake here, folks, Nintendo, the reigning handheld king, is watching. We can expect something radical with 3DS’s successor. On the other hand, Sony now has another playbook to draw inspiration from, because their methods have yet to best Big N and they’re in desperate need for innovation.
This is the tip of the iceberg people. We have yet to see Sony and Microsoft’s consoles and let’s not forget Gamestick and OUYA, who certainly have their work cut out for them. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble!