With E3 just around the corner, NVIDIA's jumped the gun and announced its ambitious Shield (formerly called "Project Shield") gaming handheld is launching sometime next month for $349.99 at select retails including GameStop, Newegg, Micro Center and Canada Computers. Pre-orders for the clamshell, controller-shaped portable will start next week on May 20.
As far as final specs go, Shield will have a 5-inch (1280 x 720 resolution) touchscreen, Android Jelly Bean, Tegra 4 processor (with 72 GPU cores, quad-core CPU cores), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11n 2X2 MIMO game-speed Wi-Fi. Shield also has a number of ports including a mini-HDMI, micro USB 2.0 and microSD slot and 3.5 mm headphone jack. Battery life is rated at 28.8 watt hours, which hopefully means it'll get up to 10 hours of gaming as NVIDIA promised back at PAX East in March.
Pre-loaded software on the Shield will include Google Play, TegraZone, Sonic 4 Episode II THD, Expendable: Rearmed, Hulu Plus and TwitchTV.
Shield's $350 price might seem high, and it does cost more than the PS Vita, but consider what the Shield is offering. It's a supercharged Android device with a high-definition touchscreen and the fastest mobile processor that will run Android games and full PC games streamed from Steam or Windows over Wi-Fi.
We're still skeptic as to why anyone would choose to stream their PC games over to a smaller screen via Wi-Fi instead of just sitting in front of their larger gaming notebook or desktop, but NVIDIA clearly thinks gamers want it. Obviously, the fact that Shield plays Android games and runs Android apps also makes the device more portable, but let's be real here, Shield is cool because of its PC game-streaming capabilities. It's not like we have a shortage of ways to play Android games now. The Ouya, GameStick, and Moga Pro controller are already taking care of that pretty well.
So, a show of hands, who's pre-ordering, and who's lining up for the Shield next month? Is $350 too high? Duke it out in the comments below.