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Nvidia prices Shield handheld gaming device at $349

Nvidia announced today that it’s debuting its Shield portable gaming system in June for $349. Preorders should be live on May 20 on Nvidia’s site.

The new game system plays Android titles on a 5-inch high-resolution screen that sits atop a game controller. Shield is the first game system that graphics chip maker Nvidia has ever made. Its aim is a dual one: Shield can take Android games into the living room (connected via a HDMI cable) and take PC-based Steam games from the computer display to a big-screen TV.

Shield features a console-grade controller; a high-definition, 720p display; Tegra 4-based graphics; and Android games that are available on Nvidia’s TegraZone web site. You can connect your Google Play account to Shield to enjoy your favorite movies, music, and apps on the Shield device. The PC streaming supports most games from your Steam library (provided your video card can run those games, of course) and displays them at 720p.

“I like Nvidia’s sub-segmented approach to the market, as $349 works for both rabid GTX fans and hardcore Android gamers,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “That price won’t drive casual gamers, that is, unless Shield becomes the device every kid needs for the holidays. One thing that big-time gamers will appreciate about Shield that no other handheld or game console can do is leverage those awesome PC gaming titles. As Nvidia grows their supported list of Steam PC games, I expect that to generate a lot of buzz. Nvidia needs to microscopically manage the experience for this to work well for them and Shield users.”

The system will be available on Newegg, GameStop, Micro Center, and Canada Computers. Shield will be able to tap a PC with an Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU and play the Steam games on that computer on a big-screen TV. The PC will stream the device to Shield, and gamer can play them on the 5-inch screen or on a TV with a HDMI connection.

The system features Tegra 4, which Nvidia calls the world’s fastest mobile processor with 72 graphics cores, four central processing unit (CPU) cores, and 2GB of main memory. Shield has integrated speakers, 802.11n WiFi, Android’s Jelly Bean OS, 16GB of flash memory for storage, global positioning system navigation, Bluetooth 3.0, mini-HDMI output, micro-USB 2.0, a microSD storage slot, and a 3.5 millimeter stereo headphone jack.


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