Nvidia hopes to expand the niche audience for its Shield Portable gaming handheld with a worldwide release of the new Shield Tablet. MCV catches up with Chris Daniel, senior product manager at Nvidia
The launch of Nvidia’s Shield Portable last year in the US set many tongues lolling at the idea of a high-powered gaming handheld.
The Android-powered controller-display hybrid allowed users to play both Android games and fully-fledged PC titles streamed to the portable using Nvidia’s GameStream service.
The latest iteration of the technology adopts a brand new eight-inch tablet form factor and bumps up the Portable’s Tegra 4 processor to Nvidia’s Tegra K1 flagship mobile CPU. But the Shield Tablet is not designed to replace the Portable.
“It’s a family of products now, so the Portable and Tablet will live together,” Nvidia product manager Chris Daniel tells MCV. “The gamer who wants the Android gaming portable with everything integrated: the console-grade controls integrated, screen integrated; the Shield Portable is still the best option for them. But for those users who want a tablet and are also gamers, Shield Tablet is the device for them.”
However, despite the Shield Tablet making its way to Europe in mid-August, the Portable remains AWOL over here.
“We’re not announcing the Portable coming to the UK or worldwide at this time, but we expect the Shield family of products to be worldwide eventually,” explains Daniel.
As with the Portable, the Shield Tablet runs on a custom Android-based operating system – a choice made to suit game creators.
“Developers are definitely moving to Android,” says Daniel. “It’s growing at an extreme rate. 90 per cent of the app revenue on Google Play is for games and there are one billion installations now of Android, so a lot of developers are focusing on building great Android content. Pair that with the power of the Tegra K1 and developers are able to take a PC level of content and a console quality level of graphics and bring that for the first time to the mobile space.”
While the Portable’s screen was integrated into a flip-top controller design, the £229 Tablet will require a wireless controller to be purchased separately. The device will come bundled with Trine 2 and Nvidia’s Dabbler app.
“We have close relationships with all of the major developers and so we’re definitely working on some really exciting content,” Daniel says cryptically of the possibility of Shield-exclusive games in the future.
“In the last year, both through GPU technology and the mobile space, interest in Android gaming is making some really amazing strides. The number of games has increased almost three-fold from a year ago and we expect that to accelerate even faster going forwards. We’re really excited about how quickly content is able to come to the mobile space.”