Nvidia reveals Project SHIELD handheld gaming console with 5-inch multitouch OLED display

The Tegra 4 we were expecting, but a handheld Android games console we were not. Nvidia has just revealed a brand new Android-powered handheld games console called Project SHIELD and it looks awesome.

Sounding like something developed more by Nick Fury than Nvidia, Project SHIELD will be the first device to run on Nvidia’s also just-announced Tegra 4 chip. Thanks to the new chip’s whopping 72 graphics processing cores, this little console will be capable of playing console quality games in the palm of your hand.

Design wise, SHIELD is effectively an Xbox 360-style gamepad controller with a flip-up 5-inch OLED touchscreen attached. The controller features a D Pad, two analogue sticks, four buttons in a diamond formation and shoulder buttons. There are also dual stereo speakers with an advanced sound processing engine that Nvidia reckons will rival the likes of Beats Audio on HP laptops.

The display is multi-touch and so you can play games just as you would on your smartphone, if you really wanted to avoid the controller. It’s of high quality too, rocking a 720p HD resolution and a sharp pixel density of 294ppi.

Unlike Sony and Nintendo who have created proprietary software for their respective handheld games consoles, Nvidia will use a ‘pure’ version of Android on Project SHIELD. This means no skins and no extras, with users having access to the likes of Gmail and the Play Store for apps and games, as well as Nvidia’s own TegraZone app which will collate the best games for the console.

The SHIELD’s 33Wh battery is said to provide a reasonable 5-10 hours of gaming from a single charge, or an impressive 24 hours of HD video playback. There’s also a micro SD card slot for expansion, although Nvidia hasn’t made clear just how much internal memory the device has to start off with.

Perhaps most excitingly, Nvidia says that you’ll be able to stream full PC games over a Wi-Fi network to the SHIELD console. This includes games from your Steam library, which in theory means playing the likes of Half Life 2, Counter Strike: Source and Call of Duty on a handheld console. You’ll need an Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 graphics card or better in your PC and a Wi-Fi connection in order to stream games.

Finally, thanks to its powerful Tegra 4 processor the SHIELD can be used as a fully-fledged games console by hooking it up via HDMI to a TV. Furthermore, it’s capable of pumping out 4K quality, which means it will be compatible with the next generation of HDTVs. Additionally, Nvidia says it will update the device later in the year to add the ability to wirelessly stream games from the console to your internet-connected HDTV – neat!

Nvidia says that Project SHIELD will be out during the second quarter of 2013. No price has yet been confirmed.