Print 4 comment(s) - last by Phoque.. on Oct 30 at 5:38 PM

Gamepad mapping, console streaming, and PC streaming are among the new firmware highlights

NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) today announced a "massive" update coming to its Android SHIELD gaming console.  In addition to new and improved features, NVIDIA will also be offering a GPU/SHIELD bundled discount that includes a $100 USD rebate on SHIELD and a collection of free "AAA" PC game titles for holiday season bundle buyers.

I. After Strong Early Sales, Android-Powered SHIELD Gets a Major Boost

The Tegra 4-powered SHIELD Android gaming console launched in July 2013 after much early hype.  Featuring a pair of analog sticks, X/Y/A/B buttons, start/home/back buttons, and L/R should triggers (buttons), the SHIELD provided the physical controls that smartphone games have struggled to replace.  The device features a flip-up 720p (1280x720 pixel) multi-touch display.

Some were skeptical of the device's potential, but in August NVIDIA reported that the console was seeing strong early sales.  Senior Director of Investor Relations Chris Evenden told Joystiq in August that sales of the SHIELD -- which was initially U.S. exclusive -- were "great", elaborating, "Everything that we shipped so far has sold out ... we're just starting to ramp production."

In fact, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has plugged the SHIELD's international launch as a key difference maker that NVIDIA is hoping will revive its profits, which have sagged amidst a global slowdown in high-end smartphone sales.
NVIDIA Tegra chip
The console is powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 4 SoC.

Now NVIDIA is looking to accelerate the excitement surrounding SHIELD, launching an Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean" and firmware update.  Among the new features added by the latest Jelly Bean release include:
  • The ability to transfer *.apk and *.obb app files to the micro SD card to free up device storage
  • Actionable in-game notifications
  • Performance improvements, making interface faster/smoother
II. Console Mode, GameStream, and GamePad Mapper Expand Handheld's Potential

The update also adds a couple of unique firmware expansions that greatly improve the console's potential.

The first is so-called "Console Mode", which let's you stream video to your WiFi capable television.  The update means you no longer have to play on the small screen when you're at home -- you can play Android games using the SHIELD's physical controls in flat-screen glory.

The second is NVIDIA GameStream -- a technology that leverages NVIDIA's "ultra-low latency" game streaming technology to push game video from a WiFi-connected PC to the SHIELD console.  The SHIELD console acts as the PC's controller, and can push video yet one more hop to the TV (in Console Mode).  This isn't exactly revolutionary -- it's not that different than if you hook your PC up to a TV's HDMI jacks manually.  However, it does save you the hastle and mess of wire  hookups.

GameStream let's you control PC games with SHIELD, plus stream them to a WiFi connected television, if desired.

Conceptually this is similar to the Valve Corp.'s much hyped Steam Box, which offers similar streaming of PC games via a (non-Android) Linux console.

Last, but not least NVIDIA is looking to tackle a common problem faced by the console's early adopters -- the lack of compatibility with the device's controls inside popular Android titles.  The new "SHIELD GamePad Mapper" technology lets you assign a personalized control layout using all the SHIELD's physical buttons to any Android app.  And better yet, the handheld will pull down a default profile for many titles, that gives you a popular configuration scheme without having to fiddle with it yourself.

NVIDIA's GamePad Mapper lets you map a custom control scheme to individual Android games.

And to add a bit of frosting on its Jelly Bean cake, NVIDIA writes:

To celebrate the official release of GameStream, for a limited time NVIDIA will offer up to $100 off SHIELD plus free copies of “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag,” “Splinter Cell: Blacklist” and “Batman: Arkham Origins” with the purchase of select GeForce GTX graphics cards.

In other words, NVIDIA is giving a nice discount to PC gamers who buy up its premium graphics cards and also are looking to buy SHIELD.  (NVIDIA might need this help, as Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s (AMDVolcanic Islands GPUs have temporarily leapfrogged the GeForce 700 series).

Potential buyers beware that only certain faster WiFi routers are compatible with GameStream, given the speed needed to push games at a promised ~60 frames per second (fps) framerate.  NVIDIA has a full list of the routers it considers compatible here, for those interested.

Source: NVIDIA [press release]

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That thing is still selling?
By Phoque on 10/28/2013 9:33:37 PM , Rating: 2
That thing is still selling?

RE: That thing is still selling?
By TheJian on 10/29/2013 5:06:54 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, it's better than Vita/3DS and will be FAR better in another 6 months with rev2..Then again with Rev3 etc etc...LOL.

I'd venture to guess 3DS/Vita sales will fall further than they already have off a cliff this xmas. With the gamepad mapping tons of games just got "game-padded"...TM

Considering it only cost 10mil to develop they have no losses here and can push it rev after rev for far less than even the first 10mil. Just keep shoving in the next chips with slight modifications (1080p screen at some point etc). This has to be one of the cheapest products developed ever. So no, no reason to stop selling them and it pushes gpu sales, gaming to android etc. The gaming to android part is important for NV for getting into the cpu game with Denver etc. They need directx to get weaker and Valve/google are helping. With ARM's next rev (V8 A57 etc) they can put out a PC like box with No WINTEL inside. Pure NV hardware for gpu/cpu. Think of the long game here, and realize at some point it's NV's revenge for Intel killing their chipset business...ROFL.

RE: That thing is still selling?
By jimbo2779 on 10/29/2013 5:56:02 AM , Rating: 2
I am also surprised people are buying this when the vita has some serious games compared to the typical android game that exists. Also the PS vita is selling for half the price of this with 10 free games right now.

I have been looking for a cheap tablet and was amazed that I could get a vita for the same cost as a lot of these dodgy cheap tablets and this Shield is no cheap tablet.

For what is inside the shield it is a very expensively packaged cheap tablet.

RE: That thing is still selling?
By Phoque on 10/30/2013 5:38:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, it's better than Vita/3DS

Maybe the hardware, but the system as a whole? I'd have to disaggree. How many games actually take advantage of the Shield`s power? How many AAA games developed specifically for it?

I would like mobile Android gaming platform to succeed in the enthusiast space (20$-40$ game price range), but it's not there yet.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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