Nvidia's Project Shield is perhaps the biggest Android announcement of CES, with the Las Vegas show not being designed for Smartphone announcements. The portable gaming console is not only a great concept but, for once, it bucks the trend of announcement and no launch. Nvidia's console will be launch in Q2 of this year in the U.S. and Canada. So, we know that it's coming and I know I'm excited but there is a lot of speculation out there, mostly concerning price. Earlier today we brought you the news that Nvidia have very real plans to make money upfront when Project Shield ships.
Let's take a look at some of the price points Nvidia might be aiming for and what devices they'll be up against. This is what we think but, what we really want to know is how much you'd pay for Project Shield.
If the Project Shield were to hit the 150 sweet spot then it'd enjoy some serious success. After all, having great hardware is one thing but if you price yourself out of the market then nobody is going to pick the console up. It's going to be pretty difficult for Nvidia to reach this price point and there's nothing to suggest that they have any plans to get it this low, especially when they've expressed their wishes to not sell at a loss. Considering that subsidized Android tablets packing last generation's Tegra 3 struggled to reach prices around this mark, the $149 figure sounds pretty much like a pipe dream. It'd be awesome if it did sell for just 150 bucks but, we're not holding our breath.
There's nothing out there in the States that compares with this and runs for this much but gaming wise you can pick up a brand new Nintendo DSi from Gamestop for just $99.99 but then again comparing these two devices is a little unfair as the games on the original Nintendo DS are poor quality in today's world and there's little else you can do with a DSi aside from play games.
Now, if Project Shield were to come closer to the magic figure of $199 then it'd still sell a lot of units and perhaps this is the sweet spot that a lot of people would consider for a device like this. It's still pretty hard to suggest that the Shield will be sold for as little as this. With the Tegra 3 Nexus 7 still retailing for $199 there's little hope a Tegra 4 beast like this will be had for the same price.
For 200 bucks you can still get the Nexus 7 direct from the Google Play Store and numerous other retailers. The 3DS retails at Gamestop $169.99 and the 3DS XL runs $199.99. Which aren't bad prices for a dedicated gaming machine that does have a catalogue of titles behind it. While the 3DS runs around $200 the PS:Vita from Sony still runs a steeper $249 at Gamestop.
$249 – $299
This is more the sort of pricing that I'd expect for the Project Shield and it's perhaps the highest I would go. When you consider that Nvidia are relying on the Tegra Zone for extra profit behind the device it should make for a lower price however, for the most part games will be gotten from the Play Store and there's perhaps not as big a manner for Nvidia to get some continued revenue back on the device.
The PS: VIta retails for $249 but games are still quite expensive for the device and even memory cards will run up a bill if you go after Sony's handheld. This isn't to say the Vita is not a good console as there is a lot to love about Sony's PlayStation system.
$300 and Above
This is the sort of territory that will make Nvidia's console hard to reach for many and hard to justify as a purchase for even the most avid gamers. I certainly wouldn't want to pay much – if at all – more than $300 for the device, it's a hard sell and when you think that it's designed as a portable console, it shouldn't cost the same as the top of the line Xbox 360 or the PS3. For a lot of us with interest in the latest handheld from Nvidia, the price is perhaps going to be the deciding factor in whether or not the device is something in our sights. The Tegra 4 might be a stunning processor and the idea of linking to my Steam library excites but, there's plenty more things out there I would rather spend $350 on.