GDC 2013: Nvidia Demos Project Shield

GDC 2013: Nvidia Demos Project Shield

Apr 1, 2013

Nvidia gave Project Shield, its Android device with a controller built-in, an open showcase for GDC 2013 convention-goers to play with a variety of new and upcoming titles, such as Dead Trigger 2 from Madfinger Games.

The Tegra 4 hardware definitely enables games to go to a higher level of detail than on most mobile devices. Vivid Games showed off Real Boxing on both the Tegra-4-boasting Project Shield and the Tegra-3-sporting Nexus 7, and the game had noticeably more detail on the Tegra 4 device compared to the venerable Android tablet. The touch controls still work for that game too, and while the devices were tethered down, it was still possible to anchor the device against one’s body to play a game on the 5″ touch screen. Will it be as comfortable or convenient as playing games with the Shield’s controller support? Probably not, but based on a short test, it seems at least possible.

The Shield, as promised, runs stock Android, with the only noticeable deviation being that there is an Nvidia button on the controller that immediately opens up the Nvidia hub app with Shield-compatible games. Otherwise, titles can be downloaded from any other source available. The TegraZone hub app has always pointed to Google Play, so nothing seems to change in this circumstance.

The hardware is not final, though Nvidia reps claim that it is about 90% complete. One demo unit had a washed-out screen, and the d-pad was very inaccurate, like the original Xbox 360 controller, to where it was difficult to select menu items. However, these kinds of things can be modified in a short bit of time – OUYA’s d-pad was being finalized just weeks ahead of its launch, so an improved d-pad is not out of the question. The joysticks and triggers all had a solid feel to them to where playing first-person shooters felt accurate and comfortable. It’s easy to flip the device open thanks to a little lip that has been added to the end of the screen. There’s a mini-HDMI output available on the device, along with Miracast support.

I was able to also briefly demo the PC game streaming, trying out Borderlands 2. While I wasn’t able to get too long to judge how things like if any latency becomes apparent, the game’s video was being replicated on a nearby PC, and it performed just like playing with an Xbox controller. This was done via an ethernet connection; convention wi-fi was too spotty for Nvidia to use it on.

While Project Shield’s actual possibilities as a consumer product remain up in the air, there’s definitely some promise with the device itself, and it definitely showed that the Tegra 4 will boast some pretty visual.

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
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