Last year Nvidia launched its Shield brand for portable gaming hardware, starting with a 5-inch handheld device running Android and powered by its own Tegra 4 processor. Since then the company has apparently decided to branch out a bit and extend the Shield family to include a tablet PC.
Leaked slides, originally posted by VideoCardz.com, show an 8-inch tablet that still runs Android, but appears to be the first device that will be released in the U.S. that makes use of Nvidia's new Tegra K1 graphics processor. Those slides also promise a U.S. release date of July 29 for the Shield tablet at a starting price of $299. (European availability is listed as August 14.)
Xiaomi has already stuck the K1 into its MiPad 8-inch slate, but the Chinese company has not officially released it in the United States. The new chip promises superior mobile graphics owing to its 192 Cuda processing cores and its Kepler architectural heritage. The leaked slides show the K1 being packaged with a quad-core ARM-based A15 CPU, though it can also work with Nvidia's own Denver CPUs.
For the $299 starting price, the Shield tablet includes 16GB of built-in storage, but you can also spend $100 more for a 32GB version. Nvidia will also apparently sell a $59 controller that looks like a wireless version of the integrated controller the Shield handheld console features, along with a $39 Shield cover with built-in kickstand to ease hands-free gaming.
Other specs include 2GB of RAM, 1,920x1,200 full HD display resolution, front- and rear-facing 5-megapixel cameras, a stylus, and built-in 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi with an option for LTE cellular connectivity, though only for the 32GB model. Nvidia claims 10 hours of HD video playback before the Shield tablet needs recharging, though it's unclear how much battery life that translates to for gaming purposes.
The slides also call out benchmarking information, though it must always be consumed with a rather large grain of salt. It shows the K1 annihiliating the iPad Air on tests like 3DMark and GFXBench 3.0, along with the Shield controller showing far less latency than a typical Bluetooth controller, crucial to satisfy hardcore gamers. The Shield tablet will integrate Nvidia's GameStream technology, which allows you to stream PC games to play on a Shield device, even outside your home (though the company says this feature is still in beta).
Despite the widespread leak, Nvidia has stayed mum about the Shield tablet's existence thus far. It may be busy trying to figure out how to get gamers -- and game developers -- to embrace the new device and its powerful hardware. As we all know, having the best hardware doesn't always result in popular success. Do you think the Shield slate sounds like it has what it takes to stand out in the always-crowded tablet marketplace? Let us know in the Talkback section below.