Nvidia's big announcement at the Game Developers Conference 2015 (GDC 2015) that was "five years in the making", is the Shield. No, it's not a new tablet nor is it a handheld. This time around the name extends to an Android TV set-top box powered by the Tegra X1 SoC that was unveiled at CES 2015 earlier this year. The company is calling it an 'Android TV console'.
The Tegra X1 SoC is an eight-core, 64-bit capable SoC with a Maxwell-based GPU with 256 CUDA cores and decoding support for HEVC/H.265 videos. Along with this, the Shield supports video output at 4K 60Hz via an HDMI 2.0 connection.
The company is dubbing it the first 4K Android TV device. Odd given that Sony launched Android TV powered 4K televisions at CES earlier in the year. The Shield can play media content and Android apps from the Google Play Store thanks to Android TV.
In comparison to consoles, Nvidia claims the Shield is twice as fast as the Xbox 360 with a drastically lower thermal footprint. Compared to other Android boxes, this allows it to run visually complex games such as Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Doom 3: BFG, and Crysis 3. And while none of them would look as good as they do on a high-end PC, it's commendable for a thin, relatively low-powered system.
The company touts 50+ Shield-optimised Android titles at launch. Furthermore, it will work in sync with Nvidia Grid - the company's cloud streaming service which will let you stream games at 1080p, 60fps if you have a 50Mbps connection.
Grid will come in two subscriptions - basic that outputs at 720p and premium that lets you go up to 1080p. The subscription comes with a library of games, but you then purchase the top-tier AAA titles. Interestingly though, Nvidia promises AAA game releases at the same time as consoles and PC, but you'll be able to play them within a minute on Shield via Grid.
The Shield will ship in May (no specific date for India yet), and retail at $199 (roughly Rs. 12,300) and include a Shield controller that is sold separately for $60 (around Rs. 3,700). Other accesories include a remote control which also offers voice control, and a stand to make the set-top box stand vertically.