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Nvidia Readies Game-Streaming Set-Top Box

San Francisco — Nvidia plans May availability of a $199 Shield set-top media box that streams and downloads games and 4K video.

The Shield, built on Google’s Android smart-TV platform, accesses Nvidia’s Grid game-streaming service to play 720p/30 fps and 1080p/60 fps games, downloads games and apps from the Google Play store, and accesses streaming-content services available through Google Play apps

The device, unveiled here at the 2015 Game Developers Conference, is Nvidia’s first home entertainment device, which follows the chip company’s 2013 launch of the Shield Portable handheld gaming device and the later launch of the gaming-optimized Shield Tablet. Those devices also access Grid.

Grid’s games are optimized for Shield and game controllers, and they include PC games previously limited to computer users. The service eliminates game downloads that can take several hours, offloads the most graphics-intensive computations to the Cloud, and enables the introduction of new graphics technologies without making a game console obsolete, the company said. Game-play latency is only 150ms for smooth game play, it added.

Grid has been available as a free preview since November but will become subscription-based with the device’s launch.

Shield can be placed vertically or horizontally next to a home entertainment system. It is controlled from a Wi-Fi console-style game controller and a separately sold Google Now-enabled handheld remote.

The device features Nvidia’s Tegra X1 with 256-core GPU, 1 teraflop of computing power, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 128GB MicroSD slot, two USB 3.0 ports and a MicroUSB 2.0 port.

The device works with up to four $60 Shield controllers for multiplayer gaming.

It also lets users beam content to a TV from Android devices.