Nvidia Shield Microconsole May Finally Disrupt Console Market, If It Works

Nvidia made a splash at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday night. By announcing their new Nvidia Shield Android TV console, Nvidia talked a big game in terms of delivering PC-level gameplay experiences in a small, affordable form-factor console. Nvidia may have finally introduced an Android TV micro-console that has some staying power.

However, it all hinges on whether some of the more ambitious aspects of Nvidia Shield actually performing.

At a price point of $199, Nvidia Shield is already cheaper than the Xbox One and PS4. And according to Nvidia’s metrics, Shield is objectively more powerful, thanks to its connection to Nvidia’s GRID Supercomputer streaming service. This allows Nvidia Shield owners to stream low-latency gameplay from a supercomputer in a data center in 1080p and at 60 FPS. If this can be achieved over even the most modest of Internet connections, Nvidia may have a product that can actually compete with Microsoft and Sony.

Android micro-consoles don’t have the best history, so a lot of the Internet seems skeptical about the Nvidia Shield. Ouya promised big things and didn’t deliver, and while Nvidia is known for being a great GPU and pioneer in graphics development, they are woefully underwhelming with their mobile efforts compared to rival Qualcomm. However, if this current generation of gaming has proved one thing, it’s that the consoles are less powerful than developer’s ideas. Rarely does a console game hit the market at 1080p, and even more rare to have it rendered in 60 FPS. If Nvidia’s Shield can truly deliver on the 1080p60 claim without lag, it could give gamers looking for another option to game another worthy choice to look at.

Nvidia Shield Specs Chart Alongside Microsoft Consoles

However, a lot of people’s internet isn’t up to snuff, so being able to adequately stream games at 1080p60 may not fail as a result of Nvidia Shield’s hardware, but an owner’s ISP. And while this Android console can run Crysis, Nvidia sold it as a viable alternative to current consoles, even going so far as to lock down major AAA-titles launching this year. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be available via the Nvidia GRID Streaming Service on the day of the release. Imagine being able to play the latest AAA games at 1080p60 without needing to buy an expensive PC to do so. Enticing to some consumers who simply see PC gaming as too expensive, making Nvidia Shield a legitimate alternative.

Again, everything Nvidia touted tonight about Shield and the GRID Supercomputer Streaming Service hinges on whether the technology will work, and more importantly, whether Internet connections can handle the massive amounts of data being transferred as a result. We’ll know in May, as Nvidia Shield launches alongside the GRID service to the public.

[Images via Nvidia, IGN]