CES Crowds Clamber For a Peek at Project SHIELD

by Brian Caulfield

Everyone wants to get close to Project SHIELD. Just step into NVIDIA’s CES booth and ask the guy wiping smudge marks off the Plexiglas case that contains it.

Since the show opened earlier today, scores of people have asked Hassan Anjum variations on the same question: when can I get mine?

Black-clad NVIDIA employees – including some of the engineers who assembled an early production run of the device – were working on answering that and other questions from gaming fanatics who stopped by for a closer look. Lots left impressed.

Aaron Gilroy, an engineer who has been working for months to get the devices built, says many of those he’s talking to don’t realize that Project SHIELD is more than just a game controller – that it can also stream games from a PC. It’s also a full-fledged Android device equipped with a powerful Tegra 4 processor.

Several parents who stopped by the booth saw the device as a way to slip more playing time into their lives. “We’ve got kids and my wife doesn’t like me playing action games around them,” said Ryan Hickman, who works at a search-engine giant. “So this might be how I could play blood and guts games around them when they’re awake – and when they go to sleep I could throw it up on the big screen.”

James Bower, an IT consultant, has been gaming since the 1970s and still remembers his Atari 2600 fondly. He owns an Xbox, an Xbox 360, a PlayStation 2, a PlayStation 3, a PlayStation Vita, a PlayStation Portable, and a Nintendo DS. He was impressed. “To have all that with a flip up screen? I think it’s awesome.”

Most gawking at the device, however, were from a younger demographic.

Brad Tokel, a student at New York University, and his high school buddy Joshua Kaufman, now at the University of Michigan, were intrigued. Both are veteran gamers, although Kaufman will admit to getting a little less playing time in now that he’s in college. “It’s awesome,” Tokel said. Kaufman wondered why something like Project Shield hasn’t been built already.

Said another gawker, midway through a spiel from an NVIDIAN about everything the device can do: “You got me. I want this.”