Nvidia is reportedly taking another run at the living room with a device that will bring PC games to HD televisions through the company’s GeForce Experience technology. The device will also run Android software and make use of a “budget-priced separate controller,” suggesting that it might actually be positioned as an all-in-one box meant to compete with both Steam in-home streaming and Ouya at the same time.
The BBC report says the unnamed device will be powered by Nvidia’s Tegra K1 chip, which it showed off last month with a demo of the Unreal Engine 4 running on the chip under Android L. The power of the chip, which boasts a 192-core GPU, will allow it to easily out-muscle the Ouya, but what’s more interesting and relevant to our interests is the promised ability to stream PC games via its HDMI port.
That very obviously puts the unit in the middle of territory Valve is aiming at with its in-home streaming technology and, to a lesser extent, Steam Machines. That may have seemed like a fool’s errand six months ago but the recent delay of the Steam Controller, and by extension Steam Machines as a whole, into 2015 makes it a far less daunting prospect; despite Valve’s grand plans, the living room remains a more-or-less unconquered frontier—an opportunity waiting to be seized.
But Valve’s inability to seal the deal may be offset somewhat by a weakness in the Nvidia design: The GeForce Experience system requires a relatively recent GeForce video card, and PCs that lack the requisite hardware won’t be able to take advantage of the streaming functionality. Having to purchase a new video card on top of the box, which hasn’t yet been priced (or even confirmed), may well drive the total cost beyond practical reach. That may not be too much of a concern, however; as the BBC noted, “The new device may in part be intended to provide a showcase for the chip in order to encourage other tablet and smartphone manufacturers to adopt it.”
Nvidia’s last hardware offering was the Shield, pictured above, a mobile gaming device that scored well in our review but has thus far failed to catch fire with gamers. Nvidia declined to comment on “unannounced products or rumors.”