Talking tech since 2003

I was excited about the new tech NVIDIA revealed just a little over a week ago – between GameStream, which allows gamers to stream their PC games to their NVIDIA Shield handheld and G-Sync, NVIDIA is making a serious case for PC gaming as the industry moves to the new next generation in video games. At the time, NVIDIA promised that we’d be seeing an update for the Shield that brings support for some of these new goodies and more in the coming weeks. Well, as promised, the company unleashed their big new Shield update today, and it’s a doozy.

First and most unexpectedly, NVIDIA has implemented full GameStream support in today’s Shield update, giving the Shield access to a growing list of PC titles available for streaming from your gaming PC right to your Shield with extremely low latency. NVIDIA claims that by the end of the year GameStream and the Shield will support “more than 50 of the best PC games”, including the just releases Batman: Arkham Origins that the company used to demo the technology at their announcement even earlier this month. You’ll remember that NVIDIA launched the Shield with some of this functionality earlier this year; GameStream, however, is the culmination of the company’s streaming efforts as the technology has lost the beta tag that the Shield launched with.

On top of GameStream support, NVIDIA is beefing up the Shield in some not so subtle ways with today’s update. On the handheld side of things, NVIDIA is finally allowing gamers to take full advantage of the Google Play store in a big way; Shield owners have always had the ability to tap into Google’s wide variety of applications, however actually playing most of the games has been less than stellar as the wide majority lacked support for Shield’s built in joystick. A new Shield Gamepad Mapper allows you to map joystick buttons to touchscreen controls, effectively allowing you to play any Android game using the built in joystick. What’s more, NVIDIA has promised that they will be providing access to game-specific profiles with no configuration required, meaning that for some of the more popular Android games all you’ll need to do is download the app and let Gamepad Mapper do all the rest. Not bad, huh?

As if that weren’t impressive enough, NVIDIA has included what they’re calling Console Mode with the NVIDIA Shield, effectively turning your handheld into a full blown gaming console when plugged into a TV or monitor with HDMI. You can sync any Bluetooth keyboard with the Shield and use a new, living room tailored user interface to navigate through and game with your Shield from the big screen, all in 1080p. The new Console Mode also supports GameStream streaming, meaning that you’ll effectively be able to play that new Batman game on your PC, streaming to your Shield, plugged into the TV using HDMI with a Bluetooth controller. How’s that for next-gen?

All of this is available today right from your NVIDIA Shield’s built in updater. The new software also updates the core Android version to the latest and greatest Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean”, adding Shield support for APK installation to SD card, notification improvements, enhanced OpenGL support, and more. So what are you waiting for? Time to get updating.

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