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Nvidia’s Project Shield handheld takes PC games on the go

Nvidia Project Shield

After spending the majority of its CES 2013 press conference talking about how its Tegra 4 processor would make mobile devices more universal, Nvidia surprised the crowd by revealing a product with a very specific focus: mobile gaming. Project Shield, or “Thor” as Nvidia president Jen-Hsun Huang mistakenly called it, attempts to get a handle on Android gaming with a game controller and attached 5-inch screen.

Powered by the aforementioned Tegra 4, Project Shield is intended to play console-quality games. Shield runs entirely on Android and will be capable of running apps from the Google Play Store. The 5-inch display is a multitouch screen, displaying games in 720p. If you’d rather not play on that attached screen because you’ve got a bigger screen available (a 4k television was used during the press conference), Shield can push video to external displays over HDMI. The 38-Watt-hour battery should deliver 5 to 10 hours of gaming, or stream high-definition video for up to 24 hours.

Besides playing Android games, Project Shield will also stream game from GeForce-equipped PCs to the controller, like a personal version of OnLive. The streaming feature will give gamers access to all of their PC games, including those housed in their Steam libraries, making it possible to game on the go. Owning this device will essentially guarantee that you won’t ever get anything done while traveling ever again.

The device also includes a sound-processing system Nvidia promises will rival the quality of laptops using Beats Audio, and a microSD card expansion slot. The controller, which bares a striking resemblance to an Xbox 360 controller, features a D-Pad and dual control sticks for movement, action buttons, and bumpers laid out on a clamshell design. Nvidia has not yet discussed pricing or availability for Project Shield.