NVIDIA has a couple big SHIELD-related announcements today. The first is a “limited time” price cut to $199. The original price was $299, which then dropped to $249 – and there was an additional $50 rebate if you purchased an NVIDIA GTX GPU. Now the price is a flat $199, with no rebate for GTX GPU purchasers. This reduced pricing will be in effect at least through the end of April, though personally I think we might see the price stay there. There are additional incentives to go along with the April price cut, of course.

First, in the way of software updates NVIDIA will be providing both a welcome update to Android 4.4.2 “KitKat”, and there will be other enhancements including modifications to the Gamepad Mapper, Bluetooth mouse and keyboard support in Console Mode, and other tweaks and changes. It’s great to see continued support for SHIELD with OS updates like this, as I’ve had several other Android tablets that basically got kicked to the curb after one or two updates. Naturally, with NVIDIA using SHIELD as more than just a standard tablet, it’s important to keep it up to date and relevant.

Along with the upgrade to KitKat, NVIDIA will be updating the GameStream client with a new addition: Remote GameStream. The current GameStream is designed to work over your local WiFi network (5GHz dual-stream preferred/required), which limits its use to within your own home. On the other side of the equation, they’ve had the GRID Streaming Beta running for a while with remote access to games rendered on a GRID computing farm and streamed to your SHIELD device. Now the two aspects are being combined with remote streaming from your home PC to your SHIELD device, anywhere you have a (presumably “good”) WiFi connection – or if you have a good LTE connection on your smartphone, you can enable tethering and potentially use that as well.

I think this is a much bigger deal than GameStream – if I’m in my home, I’m usually happier sitting at a PC with a keyboard and mouse (though admittedly gaming on an HDTV is one potential use case that’s still appealing). Now, running the GameStream client on your home PC with an appropriate (GTX 600 or later) desktop GPU gives you remote access to any of those games. What’s more, since SHIELD isn’t really doing much computational work, battery life will still be very good. The latest GameStream will also extend support to select laptop GPUs now: GTX 800M, GTX 700M, and select GTX 600M (Kepler GTX 600M, basically) will also support GameStream. Another GameStream addition is support for multiple-PC pairings, so you can choose to stream from different desktops/laptops (e.g. if one of your desktops is already running a game, you could use a secondary system).

Returning to Console Mode, the addition of Bluetooth mouse and keyboard support allows you to connect your SHIELD to an HDTV and then sit on the couch with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Basically, you get a “portable PC” that you can connect to any appropriate large screen. It’s not clear if Console Mode also supports Remote GameStream, but that would seem to make sense. NVIDIA notes that three of the top five games among current GeForce Experience users are mouse-and-keyboard-only (League of Legends, Civilization V, and Diablo III are specifically mentioned), so Console Mode extends gaming support to additional titles, albeit in a roundabout way. Seriously: PC streaming to SHIELD connected to HDTV controlled by Bluetooth keyboard and mouse – am I the only one that feels it’s perhaps a bit too involved?

Wrapping up the announcement, NVIDIA also discussed their efforts to bring additional full PC and console ports to SHIELD. Recently they have worked with developers to port Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Mount & Blade Warband, and the indie hit Rochard to Android, with Tegra 4 enhancements for SHIELD devices. Coming soon is another major hit: Portal. This is the original title and not the sequel, but if you’ve never experienced the joys of Portal then you’re in for a treat. What would make the announcement even better would be free copies for existing and future SHIELD owners, but that might be asking too much.

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  • JeffFlanagan - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    How is $200 or this hardware amazing? Why would running Android be something to get past? Are you on drugs?
  • darkich - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    I guess he would be happier with the Vita/3DS kind of OS.

    Or maybe a windows 8 on that 5" screen
  • jasonelmore - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    well considering it has the fastest mobile gpu in a consumer device, beating iphone 5S Rouge gpu, despite being a year older, on top of a 5" 720p Touchscreen LCD, 16GB nand, superb build quality, 8 hour battery life, and great software (stream pc games, and game library (shield optimized games have increased 10 fold), Steam integration, etc.......its pretty damn impressive.

    This thing runs emulators better than a tricked out desktop gaming machine. N64, PSP, Gameboys (all of em)
  • fteoath64 - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    Heck, I would like to see Ubuntu Touch running on it if someone would port it. That would be a great attractor if there is a dual-boot option to do Android or Ubuntu Touch.
  • skavi - Sunday, March 30, 2014 - link

    What's wrong with Android?
  • mkozakewich - Sunday, March 30, 2014 - link

    Android isn't a very good OS. That usually doesn't matter on a system like this, though, so there's not much to complain about.

    Anything that contains a keyboard (like convertible tablets) needs something better, though.
  • Hrel - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    "if I’m in my home, I’m usually happier sitting at a PC with a keyboard and mouse (though admittedly gaming on an HDTV is one potential use case that’s still appealing)"

    So, plug your computer into a HDTV??? My computer is on my TV always, wireless keyboard/mouse with an Xbox360 controller. I don't understand why people still use computer screens so much, I mean, don't you WANT to have the biggest screen possible?

    As you said, don't people WANT to use their computer in the living room? With HDTV's there's no reason not to anymore.
  • ThIrD-EyE - Friday, March 28, 2014 - link

    Larger screens are not always better. In most cases I find a larger screen to be a hindrance when playing PC games because I have to move my head and eyes around a lot more to focus on objects or people in games. The closer you are to the screen the more strain you put on yourself than with a smaller screen. It's not as big an issue with console games because they are now built for large TVs.
  • mkozakewich - Sunday, March 30, 2014 - link

    That's more a function of angular width (field of view?) than of size. Using a particular cross-section of the most comfortable visual cone in front of your eyes means that there should be no difference in eye or head movement as screens get further away and bigger; the only difference would be in the focus of your eyes, and at what distance they're the least strained.
  • kpxgq - Monday, March 31, 2014 - link

    I have a day one shield that I've been using alongside a vita, 3ds, and my gaming PC. I originally got it to stream PC games while in bed but honestly the screen is too small.. I can barely make out text and markers on a map wotht the 5" screen. I think the next version could easily fit a 5.7 or 6" screen by reducing bezel. I'm uusingmy shield mostly as an htpc actually as the tegra4 chip powers through pretty much every video file I have thrown at it. Its basically what the ouya should have been

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