There's already a number of Android-based consoles on the way in 2013, including the Ouya and the GameStick. Now 3D graphics company Nvidia has decided to enter the race itself, with the upcoming Nvidia Shield handheld game device.
Project Shield, revealed at CES in Las Vegas, looks a little like an OnLive controller with a screen attached to the top, that can fold down over the buttons to make it more compact. It has integrated speakers, and runs Jelly Bean, the latest Android operating system.
Notably, the Shield isn't just for Android games. While consumers are able to access any of their Google Play games for the device, it's also possible to stream games directly from your Nvidia-powered PC, and play any of your Steam games on the Shield's screen.
Nvidia's demonstration of this particular feature didn't exactly go according to plan on stage at CES, however, as chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang was initially unable to get the PC game streaming functionality to work properly.
The 720p 5-inch, multi-touch display device is powered by the just-announced Tegra 4 processor, which the company says is now the "world's fastest mobile processor." It features GPU horsepower that is six times faster than the Tegra 3 processor, and a quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU.
Nvidia says that the Tegra 4 processor provides the best performance and battery life for a mobile processor to date, with a second-generation battery saver core and PRISM 2 display technology that can give up to 14 hours of HD video playback on smartphones.
The company hasn't said when the Shield will launch, although companies like Ubisoft, Epic Games and Meteor Entertainment have already thrown their support behind it. More photos of the device can be found on Nvidia's Flickr.
Nvidia also mentioned its Grid Cloud Gaming Platform, first teased last year. The company says that the Grid server can concurrently serve up to 36 times more HD-quality game streams than the first-generation cloud-gaming systems from companies like OnLive and Gaikai.
With this in mind, Nvidia claims that the hardware can reduce game server latency by up to 30 milliseconds compared to prior solutions. The Grid platform already has half a dozen partners who are interested in offering services based on the hardware, including Agawi in the U.S., and China's Cloud Union.