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Nvidia announces ‘Shield’ gaming system

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Nvidia's Project Shield (Credit: Nvidia)

While Nvidia has been an important player in the video game industry for years, it has never been a direct competitor to console manufacturers.

That’s about to change.

During a press conference kicking off the annual CES trade show in Las Vegas, the company unveiled its own mobile gaming system: an Android device running the company’s just announced Tegra 4 processor chip.

Currently called Project Shield, the system is essentially a chunky game controller with a flip-up, 5-inch multi-touch display. It’s also got standard analog sticks and game buttons as well as plenty of horsepower under the hood.

The intriguing device boasts a variety of standard connectors, too, and can be attached to a big screen TV via an HDMI cable (CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed off  this capability on a 4K/Ultra High Definition set at the press event.)

“This is the culmination of five years of work,” Huang said. “You can enjoy it on the small display or enjoy the same game on your television.”

The system can play games from Nvidia’s TegraZone Android game store as well as games stored on a compatible PC or in the cloud. Nvidia plans to manufacture and sell the Shield itself, according to VentureBeat. The system is expected to go on sale as early as this spring in the U.S. and Canada, with other regions to follow.

That potentially turns 2013 into the year of the Android game systems. The Android-based Ouya console, first unveiled last July, is due out in spring as well. Last week, another Android gaming device, the GameStick, blew past its Kickstarter goal in a matter of days.

For gamers who are happy sitting at their desk to play games, Nvidia also unveiled a streamlined way for players to quickly find the best possible settings for their machine. The GeForce Experience will let Nvidia graphics cards automatically calibrate for optimum performance.

“When you launch the game, GFE magically inserts the setting into your game so it comes up in the most beautiful and most playable settings that your PC allows,” said Huang.

That feature will ship with future versions of Nvidia graphics drivers.

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