Nvidia's Shield handheld to cost $349, ship next month

At CES earlier this year, Nvidia introduced Project Shield, a handheld gaming console based on its Tegra 4 processor. We learned quite a few details at the time: that the device has a 5" 720p screen and a built-in, Xbox-style game controller, that it can play both Android titles and PC games streamed over Wi-Fi, and that it's good for five to 10 hours of unplugged gaming.

Earlier this morning, Nvidia finally revealed the missing details: pricing and availability. It says the device—now simply dubbed Shield—will cost $349 and will ship in June. The company will start taking pre-orders from shield.nvidia.com on May 20. And once the device comes out, folks will be able to buy it at Newegg, GameStop, Micro Center, and Canada Computers—pretty broad availability for such an unusual piece of hardware.

Oh, and Nvidia says PC game streaming will initially be available as a "beta feature" (emphasis theirs). The company also seems to hint that this feature will require a GeForce GTX graphics processor. For what it's worth, we saw Shield's PC game streaming feature first-hand in January, and it seemed to work well:

You can check the Shield website for more details.

For some reason, I expected Nvidia to charge more for this thing. $349 may be a hundred bucks more than a PlayStation Vita, but it's not that much when you consider the Shield has a state-of-the-art processor, 2GB of RAM, a 720p screen, HDMI out, support for games from two platforms, and an apparently decent amount of battery life. Nvidia has never been afraid to charge a steep premium for some of its more unique products, so it's exciting to see the Shield priced so (relatively) affordably.

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