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NVIDIA’s $349 Handheld Shield Gaming System Will Ship In June, Pre-Orders Start Today

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Remember NVIDIA’s kooky Project SHIELD tablet? The one it unveiled to an unsuspecting public at back CES? Well, it’s officially not just a “project” anymore — it’s a full-fledged product, and NVIDIA is aiming to get the SHIELD out the door this June complete with a $349 price tag.

To help manage demand for the curious gaming portable, NVIDIA is also preparing to take pre-orders. If you’ve been eagerly devouring what Shield details you could and have subscribed to the Shield newsletter, you’ll be able to lock down your unit starting today — the rest will have to wait until next Monday to get their pre-orders in.

To help manage demand for the curious gaming portable, NVIDIA is also preparing to take pre-orders. If you’ve been eagerly devouring what Shield details you could and have subscribed to the Shield newsletter, you’ll be able to lock down your unit starting today — the rest will have to wait until next Monday to get their pre-orders in.

In case you haven’t been keeping tabs on what the Shield has to offer, here’s a quick rundown on what to expect. The thing runs Android Jelly Bean MR1, and manages to cram NVIDIA’s speedy new Tegra 4 chipset, 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch multi-touch display running at 720p, 16GB of internal storage, and a microSD storage slot into a controller body that’s awfully reminiscent of the venerable Xbox 360 controller. Throw in the ability to stream certain PC games from a computer and you’ve got yourself a neat little gizmo.

The Shield is an ambitious little gadget, and the ability for players to stream PC games to the thing is sure to win it some fans, but is this thing really going to sell? Let’s just consider the price tag for a moment: selling the Shield at $349 means it’s more expensive than buying an XBox 360 or a PlayStation 3. Granted, those consoles will soon be superseded by a new batch of hardware from Microsoft and Sony, but I suspect people would still rather get one of those more traditional consoles than an ambitious niche device like the Shield.

That’s to say nothing of the fact that the Shield is a device meant for on-the-go gaming. These past few months have seen both Nintendo and Sony slash the prices of their respective handheld gaming consoles in an effort to life sales, maneuvers that seem to have succeeded for now. The market may not be ready for a $349 handheld, but that hasn’t stopped NVIDIA from trying — now we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.