Nvidia’s unloading a heavy update to its Shield gaming handheld today, bringing compatibility with more Android games and improved streaming to HDTVs along with it.
Nvidia says the former will be achieved through its new ‘Gamepad Mapper’ tool, which effectively allows you to map the controls of touch-based games to the Shield’s console-like buttons. The company notes that it’s already used the software to create button-based controls for more than 300 touch games already, though you’ll be able to customize how you’d like them mapped as well.
The update also adds a new ‘Console Mode,’ which allows the Shield to turn into a set-top game streaming box. You could previously plug an HDMI cable into the Shield and output its display to an HDTV, but the new mode is optimized for 1080p screens and turns off the Shield’s display when activated. You can then hook up a Bluetooth controller to the Shield and treat it as your own microconsole too. And since the device is already capable of streaming PC games, Console Mode lets you turn the Shield into a makeshift Steam Machine and play said titles on your TV.
That PC game streaming feature is now out of beta with the new update, and now supports “more than 50” titles in total — though you’ll still need a PC with Nvidia-based graphics for it to function. Finally, the Shield has now been brought up to Android 4.3, giving it restricted profiles functionality and all the other under-the-hood upgrades of that update.
The Shield is still very much a niche product for a niche audience, but it looks to be a much more functional one with these new capabilities. It still starts at $300, but Nvidia is offering $50 and $100 discounts — plus free PC copies of Assassin’s Creed IV, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Batman: Arkham Origins — for those who buy GeForce GTX 660 graphics cards and up. More details on that can be found at the source links below.