I bloody love consumer and trade shows. No honestly. Any type. Originally, I’d typed ‘I flipping love CES’, but have since decided that the word flipping doesn’t convey the sheer undulating gravity of the sentence, and the acronym CES could be replaced by literally any other show. Really. Look at any of our other show-related articles and they open with a blind, fumbling bit of rosy cheeked fellatio in the general direction of whoever will take it. Whores they call us. Two bit hookers and nothing more, and that’s usually before they’ve even seen the website.
Anyway, back to the matter in hand; CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, is, for us at Respawn in… 5, a sprawling farmland of resplendent excitement. Forget the naysayers, cast away the cynics, turf out Michael Pachter (he hasn’t said anything regarding the subject but he’s just cluttering the place up really) and sit back and enjoy. Herein the world’s tubbiest techy companies wheel out their latest and greatest monstrous creations, and stand next to them grinning inanely at the unfathomed selection of loosened jaws before them.
This year it was really all about 4K TVs. ULTRA HD, they’re calling it. You’ve got to wonder what they’ll name the next iteration… Retina Curdling Definition? Eye-Searingly Badass Definition? Look Too Long and You’ll Contract Cataracts Definition? Who knows, hopefully it’s one of those though. Of course, the only thing that could really bat anyone’s attention away from these optical razor blades was the concept of a PORTABLE CONSOLE.
Yep, they’re all at it these days, but the thing that really got us about Nvidia’s SURPRISE announcement was that a) it was actually a surprise, nobody knew, and b) it was JUST LIKE I’D IMAGINED. Sort of. Allow me to explain.
You see, a long, long time ago, in the midst of a former flailing existence wherein I tried to coax my Facebook friends into reading my illegible, spit-laminated scrawlings, much like the dross you’re reading right now, I wildly fantasized about a Microsoft handheld. An Xbox controller with a screen. Something with console quality input. Something that didn’t feel like you were desperately trying to coax a small animal into lactating by furiously twiddling its nipples in the vain hope Nathan Drake would stop walking backwards into gunfire.
And THAT it seems is almost exactly what Nvidia have done with The Shield; which is the project’s current name. As you can imagine, I flippantly knocked my monitor off my desk in excitement when first I saw the news. At first glance, the machine looks almost identical to a 360 controller, but with a clam-lid screen welded on for good measure. The graphic gargantuan has gone and crammed a Tegra 4 chip into its body, whilst the OS is an Android-based Nvidia-created UI. It’ll be a powerhouse in its own right, but then will also allow you to stream games from your PC and Steam account.
Of course, that’s all a little too good to be true. The big mistake they’ve made input wise, is the stickers are adjacent to each other, as opposed to offset, a la the 360 pad. It baffles me that anyone would position analogue sticks in such a way still. It’s also a little chunkier than the 360 equivalent, and, to accommodate the machine’s 5” touch screen display, the controls sink inwards. It looks mental, especially in the hands-on videos floating around the internet.
Reportedly, it’s more ergonomic than it looks, and the machine’s shown off at CES were certainly prototypes; with a matte, unfinished overtone visually.
The question is, what in the name of Geoffrey Archer made Nvidia, of ALL people, slap this bit of kit together overnight? Is there a market? Are PC gamers interested in taking their games with them? Or is this an attempt to lure in console gamers and elbow them into the world of video cards and cooling fans?
Frankly, we think this is the most exciting thing to happen to the industry in a good long while, and with all the Steambox rumblings (which we’ll touch on next, don’t worry) not to mention the next gen hardware we’re all waiting to hear about, Nvidia have hoisted an early flag signifing this year might JUST be the departure from the billowing silence that was 2012 that we’re all hoping it is. Stay tuned folks, and look at these interesting pictures. No, not those, …THOSE.