After pushing back the launch due to a last-minute mechanical problem, the Android-based handheld gaming console is now available for purchase. It costs $299, and is being sold through Nvidia and Newegg, and at select GameStop, Micro Center and Canada Computers retail stores.
The Shield was first introduced at CES, and it’s the first consumer hardware product for Nvidia, which is best known for making the components that provide the graphics power in many of today’s smartphones, tablets and computers.
The Shield features a flip-up, five-inch, 1,280 by 720-pixel touchscreen attached to an Xbox-style controller. Powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 4 processor and running Android Jelly Bean, it can play any Android game, and even supports Android apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus and Chrome Web browser. It also includes a feature that allows users to stream PC games over Wi-Fi, though this is still in a testing phase.
Nvidia certainly isn’t the first company to try its hand at an Android gaming console. Startups like Ouya, Green Throttle and BlueStacks have all gotten into the game, though all three focus on bringing Android games to the TV.
Though interest in these devices has been great, the execution hasn’t been overly positive. In her review of Ouya, Lauren Goode said there wasn’t much of a broad appeal for the device. And when I checked out Green Throttle, I was frustrated by the lack of games.
So far, early reviews for the Nvidia Shield have been generally positive. The theme seems to be that it’s a really good first effort, but that’s not much of a selling point to lure customers away from the PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS or even standalone tablets. I should be getting my hands on one soon, so stay tuned for my thoughts on the device.