Nvidia reveals Shield, a $199 console for 4K TV and gaming

Nvidia has revealed an Android-based smart TV console and gaming system that pairs high-resolution video with an accessible interface for $199, plus a game streaming service that will offer games playable within a minute.

“All of us have been working toward this day for many years,” Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said.

Huang characterized the modern living room as a “smorgasbord” of dedicated devices that he believes will consolidate in smart TVs, much like they did in smartphones. Many of the possible applications have not yet been dreamt up, and won’t be until “a lot of clever people in the world” have access to new platforms, he said.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang  holds up the new Shield console at an event in San Francisco March 3.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang holds up the new Shield console at an event in San Francisco March 3.

Shield TV

The Shield console is about the size of a large book and faceted, giving it the appearance of chiseled stone. It’s a funky look for a home console, which Huang said is meant to make it look good from any angle. It’s thin, and capable of being placed on its side for a small profile. Its side has ports for USB, HDMI and more.

The TV console runs on Android, which means it relies on a Google movie viewing experience. Huang demonstrated pausing a movie and the software pulling out the faces of the actors and offering up information on them (in this case, Scarlett Johansson). The viewer can quickly pull up other movies featuring the actor, information about them and more.

The Shield remote and video browser.

The Shield remote and video browser.

“I believe that someday everybody is going to want a smart television experience,” Huang said. “This is likely a multibillion unit market. I believe we can make a unique contribution here.”

The console is controlled with a popsicle-shaped remote that can quickly bring the viewer into voice control or allow them to plug in headphones.

Shield gaming

Doom 3, as played on Shield.

Doom 3, as played on Shield.

Shield also runs games with Nvidia’s Tegra X1 processor. Its 512 gflops GPU and 3 GB of memory put it in the middle of the XBOX 360 and One. Nvidia demoed Doom 3, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and The Talos Principle running on the console. Even on the massive screen, all of them looked awesome. At launch, there will be more than 50 games available on Android.

“We can expand the reach of gaming, 10 times, 100 times, if we can simply make it more accessible,” Huang said. “We can do for gaming what Nexflix did for videos, what Spotify did for music.”

A gaming controller will come bundled with the Shield console. The TV remote will be sold separately.

Grid game streaming

The new Nvidia game streaming store.

The new Nvidia game streaming store.

Nvidia will also debut a game streaming service that will allow games to be delivered from the cloud at 1080p and 60 frames per second for what Huang characterized as “click and play in a minute.” If your internet is good enough, that is.

The Grid service will have at least 50 games at launch and more titles are planned for release each week. The library showed games ranging in price from $20 to $60. Free games will also be available; some to anyone and some to those who buy a subscription. Huang said studios can upload games very quickly, and gamers can begin playing in less than a minute. Nvidia streamed Resident Evil 2: Revelations and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes on stage.

“There’s binge watching on TV because of Netflix,” Huang said. “Now there might be binge playing.”

I think people already do that, Mr. Huang.