Image via Engadget

Image via Engadget

NVIDIA announced a set-top box version of its popular Shield portable gaming system tonight during the Game Developers Conference. The new Shield runs on Android and has full access to the Play Store along with a new Shield Store. The device functions as a cross between a gaming console and a media center.

The Shield is capable of outputting 4K video at 60Hz—a first for Android-based set-top boxes—and features a remote control that doubles as a Bluetooth listening device. Users can plug a pair of headphones into the remote to have audio from their content re-routed directly to their ears instead of their TV speakers or home theater system.

Voice control functionality is enabled through a microphone built into the remote. The feature is also built into an additional gamepad accessory, which comes with the console. MicroSD and USB 3.0 slots allow for extra storage space to be attached to the Shield, boosting the included 16 GB space.

Because the system is powered by Android, it will be capable of syncing with other Android devices. Music, movies, photos, and other media will all be able to run on the Shield.

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said during a live stream of the event that he believed Google had finally “cracked the TV operating system,” echoing a familiar phrase once used by Steve Jobs to describe his own TV UI epiphany.

Under the hood, the Shield packs a beefy Tegra X1 processor and 3 GB of RAM capable of running games like Crysis 3, Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance, and Limbo, all of which (among others) have been ported to the Android OS by NVIDIA and their respective developers to run on the Shield. Big-name games like the latest Borderlands title are also reportedly in the works for the new system.

The system will launch with 50+ games available in its store at launch. It will also be able to take advantage of NVIDIA’s newly-announced Grid game streaming platform, which allows players to play AAA titles at running at 60fps 1080p resolution. The company’s CEO says the service will allow games to start running in less than a minute without any downloads.

NVIDIA says the Shield, complete with the remote and gamepad, will be available to purchase for just $199 in May. The Grid service will be available at the same time. Grid will bring with it many non-Android-compatible titles, such as The Witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor.

This event is ongoing, so check back often for the latest details…

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