Nvidia introduces Shield set-top box with Android TV

Tonight at GDC, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang introduced the latest in the company's lineup of Shield devices: a set-top box running Android TV.

The set-top box is officially called just Shield. This newest Shield is based on Nvidia's Tegra X1 SoC, which has an eight ARM CPU cores in a big.LITTLE configuration plus Maxwell-based integrated graphics with 256 stream processors. Thanks to its H.265 and HEVC decode capability, plus an HDMI 2.0 connection, the Tegra X1 allows the Shield to handle 4K video output at 60Hz, which should be nice as 4K TVs become more prevalent.

Huang says Nvidia is committed to providing a great gaming experience on the Shield. To that end, the company will be curating games within its own storefront on Google TV. The hardware sounds up to the task, too. Huang says the Shield's Tegra X1 should provide about twice the performance of the Xbox 360 while consuming one-fifth of the power.

Those claims aren't just hot air, either. Nvidia demonstrated Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, The Talos Principle, Doom 3: BFG Edition, and Crysis all running fluidly on the Shield. That's impressive performance for a 10W chip. All told, Huang claims that there will be over 50 titles in Nvidia's Shield store at launch.

The Shield itself is an ultra-thin, anodized aluminum slab with some fancy green lighting highlighting its fractured-looking outer fascia. Gaming input is handled by the same Shield controller we know and love from other Shield devices. Aftermarket add-ons include a stand to hold the Shield vertically and a remote for issuing voice commands to Google TV's Google Now features. In its base configuration, the Shield will cost $199, with general availability scheduled for May 2015.

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