NVIDIA has been busy: after formally introducing G-Sync, the company has also announced that its SHIELD Android device will get a “Console Mode” in which SHIELD acts as a gaming box connected to the TV (paired with a 3rd party wireless controller). Not surprisingly, this is a feature that users asked for as soon as NVIDIA showed this console at CES 2013. This also opens the gate to something even more interesting: a display-less (and more affordable) SHIELD “box”.
It’s not hard to imagine that a Tegra 4 box could cost much less if it didn’t ship with a game controller and a 720p 5-inch display. The $100-$129 territory would be within reach, and I can’t imagine that NVIDIA is not at least considering (if not working furiously on) that option. After all, the whole point of SHIELD is to change Android into a first class gaming platform, and having a more affordable console is pretty much only way to achieve this. If you want to know why I think NVIDIA built SHIELD, read my NVIDIA Shield Is About Shaping The Mobile Chip Battlefield post.
In essence, today’s update shows that all the technical aspects for a SHIELD box have been worked out, except for the industrial design, but since a box design would be much easier than a portable design, it looks like a clear sailing from here – if NVIDIA decided to go there. Finally, it’s not hard to imagine that NVIDIA could also open up the platform to partners like ASUS or OUYA to let them build gaming boxes that may otherwise lower the overall NVIDIA profit margins.
Think of it: the equivalent of an Apple TV, with the gaming capabilities of a high-end smartphone, on your TV, for an affordable price.
Incidentally, NVIDIA’s CEO also announced that the PC game streaming for SHIELD would be called GameStream and would basically come out of beta on Oct 28th. By that time, the streaming speed would reach 60FPS under the best conditions (it was previously around 45FPS). This is no small feat since the latency to achieve 60FPs is 16ms and it’s extremely difficult, even in great network conditions, so we’re looking forward to see this in action.
GameStream allows SHIELD users to play PC games on their SHIELD device, by streaming the game from their computer, with SHIELD acting as a remote display and controller. It doesn’t work with all PC games, but NVIDIA is working with developers to have the most popular ones available.