Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) has begun taking orders for its new SHIELD hand-held video game console, which is expected to beginning shipping next month. The device was introduced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in January and allows users to play online games designed for the Android operating system from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG).
The device is Nvidia’s first entry into the video game console market, and is priced at $349. That is roughly in the same ballpark as Nintendo’s Wii U console, the PlayStation 4 from Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) due out later this year, and the Xbox 360 from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT).
Nvidia’s SHIELD also allows users to watch streaming videos, access streaming music and use other Android apps just like an Android phone or tablet. If SHIELD has an advantage going into the market, this is it. The universe of Android apps now totals about 700,000.
The SHIELD sports a 5-inch flip-up multitouch display, which is no bigger than the largest mobile smartphone screens. The appeal of the device to gamers is the hand-held console, replete with familiar buttons, which offer more control over the gaming experience than what is available on a smartphone. The device can also be connected to a PC that uses Nvidia’s GeForce GTX graphics cards.
Whether Nvidia’s device will appeal to hard-core gamers is the big question. Shares of Nvidia are up about 1.7% this morning, at $14.48 in a 52-week range of $11.15 to $15.22.