California-based processor-maker Nvidia continues to make its mark on the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year in Las Vegas. On Sunday, the company rolled out its new Tegra 4 mobile processor, which it claims is setting new records for speed and battery life in mobile devices. Next, Nvidia announced Project Shield, a gaming portable for open platforms that is turning the heads of industry watchers.

Nvidia created Project Shield with the philosophy that gaming should be open and flexible and play both Android and PC titles. A pure Android device, Project Shield offers access to Google Play games. But the pocket-knife-styled machine can also be used as a wireless receiver and controller to stream games from a PC powered by Nvidia GeForce GTX GPUs to a television.

"Project Shield was created by NVI engineers who love to game and imagined a new way to play," said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and CEO at Nvidia. "We were inspired by a vision that the rise of mobile and cloud technologies will free us from our boxes, letting us game anywhere, on any screen. We imagined a device that would do for games what the iPod and Kindle have done for music and books, letting us play in a cool new way. We hope other gamers love SHIELD as much as we do."

Breakthrough Gaming Device

Project Shield uses the new Tegra 4 processor, complete with its Wi-Fi technology and HD video and audio, in a console-grade controller. Project Shield can be used to play on its own integrated screen or on a big screen, and on the couch or anywhere else.

Project Shield offers an integrated 5-inch, 1280x720 HD retinal multitouch display, with 294 dpi. The Tegra 4 processor with Direct Touch technology gives the device its touch responsiveness. Project Shield can download Android games, including Android-optimized titles available on Nvidia's TegraZone game store, which has already delivered more than 6 million downloads to gamers.

Patrick Moorhead, president and lead analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, helped tout the new system. "The market has waited years for a breakthrough gaming device that offers the flexibility, quality and total enjoyment of Project Shield," he said. "Few companies other than Nvidia have the vision, guts and deep gaming experience to have pulled this off."

Project Shield can also access Android apps such as Hulu, Netflix and Slacker Radio, so users can tap their movies and music anywhere wired or wireless speakers. Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told us one of the coolest aspects of Project Shield is that it has both HDMI and USB mini inputs, as well as an SD card input.

When Can I Buy One?

"At the Consumer Electronics Show, you could hear the crowd sigh and ask, 'When can I buy one?'" King said. "According to the CEO they are going to be building a Wi-Fi version. The initial versions are wire connected to the television or PC. But this technology is impressive."

Yves Guillemot, co-founder and CEO of leading game developer Ubisoft is also bullish on the device. As he sees it, Project Shield promises to bring both mobile and PC gamers a great new gaming experience. Mark Rein, vice president and co-founder of Epic Games, also gave the thumbs-up, saying Nvidia is bringing an "uncompromising, high-performance console experience to mobile devices."