Opinion// Project Shield

Posted 7 Feb 2013 11:46 by
There were many revolutionary pieces of tech unveiled at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, including the waterproof Sony Xperia Z and Samsung’s revolutionary Youm flexible display technology.

As well as these top end manufacturers pulling jaw-dropping devices out of the bag, technology company NVIDIA also caused a stir by unveiling its Project Shield gaming console.

The device is NVIDIA’s attempt at bridging the gap between mobile gaming on smartphones, and traditional methods of gaming. But can the two things ever be successfully combined, and if so, is there the demand for such a bit of kit?

What is Project Shield?
Project Shield is a portable games console that runs on Google’s mobile operating system, Android Jelly Bean, and can be used to play Android games or PC games. Unlike other mobile gaming devices such as the Sony Xperia Play and Nokia’s ill-fated N-Gage, Project Shield isn’t a phone - it’s made solely for gaming purposes.

The Project Shield console looks a bit like an Xbox controller, with a flip-up 5-inch 720p multi-touch display on the top of the device. Underneath the hood there’s an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, offering a 72-core GPU and quad-core processor.

This, combined with NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience application, makes gaming on Project Shield immersive and responsive. This app automatically optimises selected titles in order to get the most out of the hardware, choosing the best settings for the game being played. There’s also 32GB internal storage available for saving games, and 2GB of RAM on board too.

Project Shield potential
The console has the look of an Xbox controller, with dual analogue sticks and controls that gamers will be familiar with. When hooked up to a TV via HDMI, Project Shield can produce display resolutions of over 4K, which is pretty impressive to say the least.

There’s the option to play Android games available from Google Play, but the console also runs PC games using Steam. This takes gaming on the go to the next level, but is there a market for the niche position taken up by Project Shield?

Mobile gaming market
Mobile gaming has come under fire in the past for not offering the same experience provided by classic consoles such as the Sony PlayStation. There are many reasons why smartphones cannot possibly offer the same quality of gaming, the main bugbears being a lack of titles, and ported versions of console games not being as good as the originals.

Project Shield
Project Shield
There are also the obvious restrictions of using a smaller lower quality smartphone display rather than a television or monitor when playing. Mobile gaming controls can also be fiddly, depending on what type of device you’re using and what style of game you are playing. However, digital market research company eMarketer found that despite this 49% of smartphone users still use their phone for gaming. Maybe NVIDIA’s best option would be to tap into this group and entice them to Project Shield, rather than trying to convert those who prefer traditional gaming.

Can Project Shield compete?
When it comes to the crunch of whether Project Shield can compete with the likes of the Xbox, hardcore gamers will likely say “definitely not”. Although NVIDIA is attempting to bridge the gap between console and mobile gaming, it may be a crossover that is not welcomed by either the gaming community or those who like to use their mobile for playing games.

In my opinion though, it all comes down to needs, and whereas the hardcore gamers will devote a lot of time, effort and money to their hobby, the people at the opposite end of the spectrum only game on their mobile simply to fill a few minutes while waiting for the bus.

The popularity of mobile gaming may be largely due to the fact that it is already available on a device which the majority of people already own. Would those same mobile gamers all still be interested if they had to buy another unit alongside their smartphones?

This is the challenge NVIDIA will face when marketing Project Shield, because as innovative as the console is, it may not have an audience.

This guest post was written by Abbi Cox of Phones 4u, which has a raft of mobile phone reviews to help you decide which smartphone is best for you.

The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect those of SPOnG.com except when it does.

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Project Shield
Project Shield
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