Nvidia Shield is $349, Public Pre-Orders Start May 20
Nvidia’s Project Shield has a shorter name, a pre-order date, and – most importantly – an official price.
With the “Project” modifier officially gone, the Nvidia Shield Android gaming handheld will cost $349, and public pre-orders start on May 20. Anyone who opted to be kept in the loop by Nvidia email has the chance to pre-order a Shield today. More details are available via Nvidia’s official blog post.
Everything about the Shield that’s been known since CES 2013 and PAX East is unchanged, save for one detail. The GeForce game streaming feature, which allows Shield users to stream PC games from a GeForce-equipped PC over a wireless network to the handheld, is launching as a beta program — so no official, final release. The rest – Tegra 4 SoC, five-inch 720p display, stock Android (Jelly Bean), and I/O – is seemingly unchanged.
Nvidia also confirmed five new Android games/ports that will drop alongside the Shield: Double Fine’s Broken Age and Costume Quest, Flyhunter: Origins from Steel Wool Games, Skiing Fred (Dedalord Games), and Chuck’s Challenge (Niffler).
The one aspect of the Shield that gives me pause? The price…I’m not sure how I feel about it quite yet. On the one hand, it’s in the same price range ($300-$400) as many current (and presumably future) Tegra-based Android tablets, Google’s Nexus 7 being the inexpensive, handicapped exception. The Acer Iconia Tab A210, Microsoft Surface, and several Asus Transformer tablets all have an MSRP of $350 or more, and they’re all running on older silicon. SoC choice aside, the Shield is less expensive than the two most important ten-inch Android tablets right now: The Nexus 10 and the Asus TF700T.
On the other hand, we aren’t talking about just another Android tablet. The Shield will be competing with other handhelds on the market, both of which (3DS, PS Vita) are less expensive, have been around for longer, and exist in more established gaming ecosystems (even if many of us are tearing our hair out at the lack of choice in the 3DS eShop). While I expect to see some fantastic games on the Shield, assuming more developers bite, $349 is a lot to pay for hardware that doesn’t have any killer software yet.
I was really hoping for a “2″ at the beginning of the Shield MSRP. $249 was a bit of a pipe dream, but I thought $299 was the sweet spot. It’s “only” $50, but that gap keeps the Shield above the high-end 3G Vita model — consoles can live and die by only $50. The I/O (HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, microSD), none of which is expensive, proprietary nonsense, does soften the blow a bit.
Leave your thoughts on the price in the comments. Do you think the Shield is too expensive? Or is $349 a proper price for the robust Android handheld?