Nvidia confirms Project Shield pricing and release date details

Nvidia is now taking a limited number of pre-orders for its Project Shield portable gaming system, now officially named SHIELD, the graphics chip maker said.

The Android-based handheld is priced at $349 (£230) and will ship in June in North America, Nvidia said on its official blog. UK, European, and international release details have yet to be confirmed.

"SHIELD is the one device that taps into the planet's largest ecosystem of games — spanning Nvidia TegraZone, Google Play, and Steam. Rediscover your Android games with the mobility, control, and performance of SHIELD. Connect to your Google Play account to enjoy your favourite movies, music and apps," Nvidia said.

Nvidia had previously pegged a "modest" version of SHIELD to release in early June. The company looks ready to hit that target date but the recent confirmation announcement ditched the humble language surrounding the device.

The initial pre-order period is only open to people who signed up for Nvidia's SHEILD website. The general public will be able to pre-order the gaming portable at the site starting on 20 May, the company said.

SHIELD consists of a "console-grade game controller" with a flip-up display unit that houses a 5in, 720p retinal multi-touch display. The portable has integrated speakers and 802.11n 2X2 MIMO Wi-Fi.

Powering SHIELD is Nvidia's Tegra 4 mobile processor with a quad-core CPU, 72 GPU cores, and 2GB of RAM. The handheld also carries 16GB of on-board storage and features GPS, BlueTooth 3.0, a mini-HDMI output, micro-USB 2.0, a microSD storage slot for memory expansion, and an 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack, Nvidia said.

SHIELD runs Android 4.2.1 "Jelly Bean" and can play "both Tegra-optimised and regular Android games — as well as Android apps," Nvidia said.

The first run of the portable device will also include a beta feature that allows SHIELD users to access PCs with Nvidia's GeForce GTX graphics cards inside. Down the road, Nvidia said it's "working on streaming your favorite PC games to SHIELD, including great titles from Steam."