Project Shield Streams Steam Games To TV, Looks Daft

By John Walker on January 7th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

As I awaken from my Christmas hibernation, I awake blinking in confusion at a world that appears to be announcing a new Game & Watch device. NVidia have declared they are releasing a handheld gaming system known as Project Shield, for Summer this year. And it looks… well…

It looks like the morbid result of some The Fly-like teleportation accident. A store brand 360 controller was attempting to teleport itself across the room, but unbeknownst to it a DSi XL had flown into the pod. Watch the terrible results as its life falls apart.

What I’m saying is: it looks ridiculous.

However, this Android-based device is going to apparently be capable of streaming your PC games, they say. Hence our interest. The top is a five inch touch screen, running at 1280×720 (so pretty much the same as any current Android phone screen), while the bottom half is a mimic of the 360 controller, housing a (just announced) quad-core Tegra 4 processor. Which means it’ll run console-ish games on its own, and being an Android device, is capable of streaming PC games onto the screen. However, according to the Verge’s press release, this requires a GeForce GTX 650 or higher.

Able to run Steam’s Big Picture mode, this means you can run your library of console-friendly games over the device, using your wifi. So, er, much like you can on any other Android device you’ve hooked a controller up to. Although clearly without the immediate hassle of hacking the root access to let you do it. (However, it does look uncannily similar to the results of using GameKlip.) Of course, bluetooth controllers already exist for Android devices, although they tend to look a little wanting.

The massive disadvantage here is that they’re stuck together. If they price is right (they’ve yet to announce it) the top screen could make a nice, cheap touch-screen Android device, unencumbered by being a phone too. But from the details released so far, you’re going to have to lug that daft full-size controller around with it all the time. This looks especially odd if you’ve a phone that already boasts decent graphics, since you could just clip it into something like MOGA’s bluetooth controller and have the best of both worlds. Although in fairness, most higher-end Android phones will have the Tegra 2 or 3 chip, rather than the 4. But that’s something that’s unlikely to be the case for the next generation, of course.

It will also stream to your TV via an HDMI output, which if the price is sensible in one fell swoop renders daft projects like the Ouya entirely redundant, becoming an extremely portable little gaming console for sure. And it becomes perhaps the tidiest way to get your Steam games streamed onto your lounge television.

It all depends on the price, really. And since they haven’t announced one, you could assume it’s not a press-friendly piece of information. Oh, and whether you’d be willing to be seen in public with one. I think what most mystifies me is the size of the screen – 5″ displays really just aren’t that conducive to gaming, and with the vast real-estate of the controller beneath it, you have to wonder if something bigger couldn’t have been included. Break the mould and put out a 6″ display, a compromise between a phone and a mini tablet.

Personally I’m going to need an image of Geena Davis looking terrified of it before I can be convinced.

And huge kudos to Mark Brown for pointing out this:

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78 Comments »

  1. Meat Circus says:

    U G L Y you ain’t got no alibi YO UGLY

    • RogB says:

      U G L Y you could make an onion cry

    • Teovald says:

      When I first saw this device I thought it was just a technical presentation of the tegra 4 with an hypothetical console as an example, not a real product.
      NVidia may need to hire a couple of designers..

  2. blackguard says:

    What’s up with his fingers?

  3. AmateurScience says:

    Lose the screen, ‘droid OS, battery and replace the controller with a USB slot (preferably two). Sold.

    This product may not be for me.

    • roryok says:

      you want a USB monitor?

      • AmateurScience says:

        No I want a doohiky that’ll stream graphics and input between my TV downstairs and my PC upstairs.

        • trjp says:

          That already exists – problem is latency, it’s almost as bad as Onlive using an HDMI streamer and a Wireless relay for keyboard/mouse/controller etc. etc.

          It’s doable today with kit you can pickup in places like Tesco tho – it’s not a future thing in any way…

        • yogibbear says:

          Drill hole in ceiling, run HDMI cable to TV.

          OR

          Build your own HTPC.

        • moexius says:

          Amen to that. Right now im using an Asrock ION mediacentre hooked to the TV and splashtop streamer/client. My xbox controller is hooked to the gaming pc and I can play any games with controller support.

        • Crimsoneer says:

          I think we all want this :(

    • Teovald says:

      What is the issue with Android ?

  4. thergonomic says:

    Ok… Just a question. Can I run my Steam games on the device alone?
    Edit: Found the info. Seems that one can play Steam games on the system alone but it has to stay connected to your computer by Bluetooth… Meh, if I could just download my Steam games on to the system and take them with me my reaction would have been: “OMFG! WTF!! TAKE MY MONEY NOW!!! BBQ!!!!” but alas it isn’t the case.

    • Snids says:

      No. Your PC will need to be switched on and running whatever software NVIDIA release to support streaming.

    • trjp says:

      You want a gaming PC built into a joypad…

      How little electronic knowledge do you actually have – I mean is a 3-pin plug a massively arcane concept? :)

      • thergonomic says:

        You got a problem that I want impossible things?

        • trjp says:

          I want impossible things too – I don’t actually look at pictures of toy handheld and think “that’s a Nigella-covered-in-Nutella dispenser” tho :)

          • lordcooper says:

            You can get those now?

          • Low Life says:

            Why would you say things like that? One more item to my list of things I want but can never have :(

          • thergonomic says:

            Guys? Guys? Hey guys?!!! Well you know what nVidia announced in their press conference? Well they said that they are investigating the possibility to stream games through 4G with the device. This might not sound that fancy to most people I imagine, but here in the great Scandinavia we do have quite advanced internet connections, 30Mbits/s through cable (the average, the projected is 100Mbits/s) and the same on 4G… I don’t know really if this would help, but it is a possibility… Right? RIGHT?!!!

    • Teovald says:

      Mobile computing is taking more and more importance and mobiles devices will soon be as powerful as current generation console (and their next incarnations), so I would not be too surprised to see this happen in a couple of years.
      I doubt it will affect ‘old’ games though.

      • trjp says:

        Everything you say is true except that it’s not about ‘power’ anymore…

        The 360 and PS3 are dead-ends in that sense too – simply more-powerful versions of those will not be successful.

        “Mobile” gaming isn’t really that anymore either – iOS has proven that relatively low power = very high sales and people play these games at home – often in preference to trad. consoles.

        Every year, friends of mine are trying to get DSs, 3DSs, PSPs, Wiis etc. – this year they all bought iPads – not 1 games console between them…

        Times they are a changin…

      • f1x says:

        You are right
        iPad (and iPhone games) proved that you dont need next-gen graphics, you just need addictive gameplay to make a “gaming” device succesful and actually a device that has some new tricks (touch screen, no buttons)

        but on the other hand its a market that is getting old very fast, there is so much trash and so much same ideas over and over again, so I don’t think we can assume the future will be just like that

        In my opinion there has to be something that stablishes a middle ground, unfortunately is not this Project Shield thing

        • Bhazor says:

          Thankfully the future of gaming is looking much like it’s past. People are buying touch tablets with keyboards, Facebook gaming is dying slowly and mobile gaming is increasingly just porting over PC indie games. The Kinect and motion support is long dead as any kind of serious input method and as the shine runs out we’ll see more going back to tactile buttons you can use.

          Just like the 3D fad new technologies rise and fall and we end up back where we started albeit with more clutter under the TV.

          • Vandelay says:

            Death of motion controls is not a good thing for consoles, as you seem to think. Granted, things like Kinect are rather limited to party games, but motion controls in the style of the Wiimote would open systems up to a far greater range of games then a traditional controller ever could. PC only strategy titles would suddenly become a possibility and the accuracy that could be given to players of FPS games would become a closer match to PC players.

            I can’t see many people wanting to transition to a traditional controller, if their only experience of gaming is via touch screens or Facebook games, so I highly doubt we will be seeing this generation having much growth. With the much larger competition, they will really need something more then just simply the same again with slightly prettier visuals, but the “hardcore” is so stubborn that that is all they are begging for and will probably dismiss anything that tries to be unique (see people’s reactions to the Wii U.)

          • darkChozo says:

            Are motion controls really dead though? All evidence is pointing to all three next-gen consoles having built-in motion support, and upgraded motion support at that. And while the gaming community’s opinion of motion is less than amazing, there’s some reason to believe that it’s mostly because the technology wasn’t quite ready yet; compare Red Steel at launch on the Wii to something like Skyward Sword later on with the Motion Plus. It’s not unreasonable to think that something analogous could happen with, say, Steel Batallion and the Kinect 2.

            On a mostly unrelated note, between ZombiU and Nintendo Land (yes, Nintendo Land), the Wii U is probably the most hardcore console I’ve ever owned. Then again, that might be vaguely remembered Nintendo biases speaking.

          • Vandelay says:

            @DarkChozo – ZombiU is probably one of the most interesting FPS games I have played since STALKER. It may have its faults (repetitive melee combat and level design that only occasionally gives you multiple options,) but it is an incredible achievement, particularly as a launch title. I hope a sequel can workout the failings and not lose the excellent survival horror experience.

            I’m sure the developers weren’t too pleased with the reaction from some of the press, but I personally think it being loved by some and hated by others just shows how ambitious it is.

            It is also an excellent showcase for the capabilities of the touchscreen game pad, something that could really open up some amazing games (still hoping for the space sim, where the touchscreen is your cockpit controls.)

      • LeeTheAgent says:

        Perhaps, but I love my 3DS anyway. :D

  5. Simon Hawthorne says:

    Geena Davis was in the Fly. It’s a reference to the film mentioned earlier in the article.

    ~~#Saving you from having to Google things #~~

  6. Dinger says:

    So, from the promo pictures, there’s something called “Arma Tactics” for the Android. Or there will be.
    I also noted a couple weeks ago that my Steam Library of GTA titles doubled, and the second copy is listed as not compatible with my (Windows) OS, and the news links all point to iOS/Android GTA discussions.

    • Teovald says:

      I all have 2 copies of all GTA 3 era games : one for windows, and one for macosx.
      So sorry, but I don’t think it is a clue of an Android/iOS version of Steam :-(; Valve is just being lazy (or too permissive) with its library.

  7. starclaws says:

    I would not call this a handheld device. More like a controller with a screen. I just bought a PSP 3000 in December for retro console gaming since PSP Vista can’t do it. If Pandora upgraded again, it would and should completely destroy this crap. http://www.open-pandora.org/ And Pandora can actually fold up. Controllers don’t store well in pockets or backpacks. But its Nvidia so they will Chinese/Taiwan mass produce for cheap.

    • frightlever says:

      I assume you’re new to the Pandora. I had a pre-order for one of the first batch that I cancelled quite quickly. These days it’s under-specced and horribly over-priced compared to most phones and the controls, however innovative 4-5 years ago, can’t compete ergonomically with a 360 controller. Not that I’m defended the Nvidia monstrosity, just warning anyone who looks at a Pandora to approach it with their eyes wide open.

      NB that’s €539.00 for the base Pandora. And he wants an “upgrade”…

  8. int says:

    I’m sure we are all asking: Is it bulletproof?

  9. Knightley4 says:

    That’s just insulting.

  10. olilan says:

    This bit of the post doesn’t seem right: “Able to run Steam’s Big Picture mode, this means you can run your library of console-friendly games over the device, using your wifi. So, er, much like you can on any other Android device you’ve hooked a controller up to.” – except the link is to an article about playing Android games with a controller, not running PC games on an Android device. I don’t know of any way currently to stream a PC to an Android device fast enough to play games.

    The SHIELD may be ugly, but the PC streaming thing is very promising – if it works it’d immediately solve two key problems with using a PC as a console – the PC not being attached to the TV, and not having a controller. With Steam Big Picture looking pretty good lately, that could be a huge win.

    • RaveTurned says:

      I know you can use bluetooth controllers to play PC games on android tablets through OnLive, but like you I’m not aware of any tech that’ll do the same streaming from a local PC (Steam-enabled or otherwise). Which seems pretty crazy, when you think about it.

    • Lorewin says:

      I guess you’re unaware of Splashtop https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.splashtop.remote.pad in its various incarnations (HD, Tegra etc). Streams a complete desktop including fullscreen window games to an Android device, complete with sound.
      I’ve actually played quite a bit of Dungeons of Dredmor using this (obviously there’s a PC side service to run as well as the Android app), as well as a couple of more graphically demanding things as a proof of concept.

  11. Kurian says:

    I keep seeing articles referring to this device as a modified 360 controller. It’s form looks like a 360 controller, but is no one else noticing that it’s actually got the function of a PS3 controller. You know…the parallel analog sticks. Kind of hard to refer to it as a 360 controller is all I’m saying.

  12. MOKKA says:

    What exactly is the purpose of this device, besides being able to play Dark Souls on your toilet?

    • Teovald says:

      Isn’t that enough ?

    • lordcooper says:

      You have been invaded by [person]

      *plop*

      • MOKKA says:

        I have to admit, I wasn’t aware about the hilarity of my comment when I wrote it, thanks for clarifiying that.
        On an unrelated note: Now I somehow want to own this thing.

    • f1x says:

      Going with it to a party just to show how trendy you are?

      With this I mean I see this on the same level of design as that old school phone attachment for the iPhone

    • bigjig says:

      Dark Souls on the toilet would be the greatest thing ever!

    • eclipse mattaru says:

      Do you even need to ask? At least when you meet the Gaping Dragon for the first time you’d be in the right place to react properly.

  13. DarkLiberator says:

    The controller looks kinda bulky.

  14. EvilG says:

    take my nvidia shares!

  15. squirrel says:

    Battery life is somewhat not disappointing for a mobile device you don’t do your work on. Some sites reported that it can run continuously for 5 to 10 hours (let’s take the min. 5 as promised). But of course, if it is a phone you do business on, even 10 hours is not ideal for me. Yet this is purely a device for entertainment.

    Pros: It should run all Android games so it has a very huge game library.

    Cons: The same point, that it runs all Android games, works against itself. That says it won’t pay all to develop games exclusive for it. Hell technically this cannot have exclusive unless Nvidia encrypts some of the programmes, which I am sure are to be cracked in no minutes.

  16. Roz says:

    But, will it blend?

  17. DrScuttles says:

    So will the successor to this Shield thingie resemble Eric Stoltz and be really, really terrible?

    • DrunkDog says:

      Was the Fly 2 really that bad? That said it’s been a long while and you’re touting an ol’ buttonhead avatar so I’ll take you at your word.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        The “human head versus descending elevator” thing was pretty good.

  18. vodka and cookies says:

    See this is what Valve should have done minus the display, instead they are making a custom PC to put under your TV which nobody is going to buy as Steam users already have PC’s.

    This device has a HDMI output so it can be used with a TV however the limitation to Nvidia hardware is a deal breaker, it it had worked with any PC capable of running Steam it would have been a killer feature for it.

    • Oozo says:

      Might be wrong there, but my impression is that Valve is not so much going after the people who already have a gaming rig (and who are already customers anyway), but for the people who couldn’t bother buying a PC because it’s too complicated and expensive and too far away from the couch. It does make sense to target them first, I think.

      (Even though the streaming solution would be nice for the existing customers, of course; maybe they’ll get to that once they have achieved their goal of overlording the sum total of buyers of video games in the whole wide world.)

    • DrHeaton says:

      What Valve are trying to do is limit their reliance on Windows ahead of a time in the future when Microsoft turn it into a walled garden style OS like iOS or something similar. That may never happen but its Valve’s worst nightmare and could ruin them if it does.

      By releasing a console based on Linux that’ll actually run games using current PC architecture Valve are leading the way away from reliance on Windows/directX and developers seem interested in following. For Valve this isn’t about making the experience better for current PC gamers, its a move to change the nature of consoles and a bid for survival.

      Either way, if the Linux based Steam OS used on the console becomes freely available (in a similar way to how Android is available open source for free) I can see a large number of hardware manufacturers releasing competitors to a Steam box using the same OS and I may be tempted to dual boot my PC with it if it runs plenty of games.

      EDIT: also, when Half Life 3 is a ‘Linux’ exclusive for the first 3 months after release (not unreasonable really making it effectively a Steam box console exclusive or at least console/PC exclusive) there’ll be a flood of people jumping on the bandwagon.

      • Dirk Beefhammer says:

        Linux-based Steam will be awesome becus then we the gamers will never have to pay monies for an OS again, amirite?

  19. Armitage says:

    ” Able to run Steam’s Big Picture mode, this means you can run your library of console-friendly games over the device, using your wifi. So, er, much like you can on any other Android device you’ve hooked a controller up to. ”

    What are these “any other Android devices” that can run Steam’s big picture mode ? To my knowledge (and a single google search) this is the first and only device that can do this.

  20. Loyal_Viggo says:

    In the words of Father Ted… “Junk!”

  21. Wisq says:

    A few key notes here:

    When you’re playing your PC games on the streaming mode of the device, you’re not actually playing them on the device. Rather, you’re using your Shield as a controller for your PC, your PC processes and renders the graphics, and streams it back to your Shield (and/or your TV).

    The main feat here is obviously getting high quality video over the network with extremely low latency. However, that also means it requires an nVidia video card in your PC, and a relatively recent one — GTX 650 or higher for desktop, 660M or higher for mobile.

    This ability to stream games from a more powerful platform is the main thing that separates it from every other device to date.

    I also hear that when you involve a TV as an external display, rather than hooking the HDMI up to the Shield, you can just stream directly to the TV via a dongle and make it truly wireless. The promise is to essentially be able to have your gaming PC set up somewhere, but play it anywhere else in the house where you have wifi (and optionally, a TV).

    As someone who’s not willing to setle for a gaming laptop — when a desktop is so much more powerful, tweakable, and less likely to burn a hole in both my lap and my wallet — I’ve sometimes found myself wishing I could play my PC games elsewhere in the house. Usually on the toilet or in bed. And I have a pretty powerful desktop, and GTX 690s that should support it. So this is actually the singular feature that has me interested in the Shield.

    It’s also set to essentially make the WiiU and PSVita obsolete and give the 3DS a run for its money. And perhaps finally bring into existence the notion (hinted at by the WiiU) of party-based multiplayer where the players can play on their own screens and the non-playing party guests can watch a spectator version of the event on the big screen. But that’s not PC news, so. :)

  22. wodin says:

    This is Wodins daughter,the one who wants to be a politician if all gaming goes to tablets and consoles well then,being a politician is a closer option than ever.Really,what are they thinking?A console tablet?The two most evil things of gaming combined?WITH WINDOWS 8?NO.I’m going to get back to my wonderful PC gaming now and hope that they will rethink his and have some sort of PC gaming epiphany…

    -Freja Rimmer age 11

  23. SkittleDiddler says:

    I hope this doesn’t indicate a trend towards Razer-like levels of gimmickry for further Nvidia products. Stick to GPUs, guys.

  24. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Hang on, what? I can stream video from my galaxy s3 to my PC? And vice versa? How?

    Also, why would I? Wouldnt it be easier to just transfer the video onto the other device?

    QUESTIONS OF SCIENCE

  25. Spinx says:

    While this looks interesting, I am already able to stream games from my PC to my Motorola Photon using Kainy, a low latency desktop streamer. Resolution isn’t quite as high as Splashtop, but then again I could never get splashtop to work well for actually playing games…

    http://www.kainy.com

  26. D3xter says:

    What I still don’t get is if NVIDIA depends so much on graphicky releases and always seems to sell a shitton of units around then, why don’t they start their own game development offspring to make the next Crysis, Metro 2033 or Battlefield 3? Why do THIS instead?
    Or at least “support” other devs to make their releases a lot more graphicky than console-y.

  27. eclipse mattaru says:

    So, Walker, what’s the deal with the PCGamer-style title? Still carrying a bit of holiday lazies, are we?

  28. yrrnn says:

    Meh. I don’t want to play android games, and for playing steam on the couch I’d much rather a proper Steam Box. I can understand the utility of only having one machine (my PC) powering the games – only one machine means less upgrading in the future – but I can’t see myself enjoying the input lag that this system would introduce. That’s not to mention that this probably won’t have a big user base. Valve’s Steam Box will put pressure on developers to make sure the Steam version of their game is the best, and that it will run well in both desktop and couch environments.

    Plus, I still like to use mouse and keyboard in most games. Adventure/racing/platform games are negotiable, but I just can’t do first person with a controller these days.

  29. CommanderZx2 says:

    The screen is tiny and they want to stream PC games, which usually have relatively small HUD’s on it at high resolutions?… Do they not realise that the HUD in the game’s will be so small that it will be impossible to read any text?