For Australians, consoles were typically the best and cheapest media devices that could also play games. But next month, they'll finally have an equally well-priced competitor: the official Australian launch of the NVIDIA Shield.
The 4K HDR-capable streaming device will come to Australia in two forms, bundled with either a remote or NVIDIA's proprietary controller plus the remote. It'll be available from $249, about $50 bucks lower than the deals that have been offered on Xbox One S bundles over the last year.
The SHIELD runs off Android TV and gives full use to Google's offering through the Play Store and Play Movies/TV, meaning you'll be able to access Netflix, Stan, tenplay (which you can't get on the PS4, annoyingly) and other local services.
Based on Android TV, SHIELD is an open platform media streaming device. It taps into Google’s industry leading search capabilities, connects to your library of entertainment with Google Play Movies & TV, and provides access to the Google Play Store for Stan, tenplay, 7 Plus and a near endless supply of apps and games.
The main hook of all this, of course, is games. The SHIELD can directly access Steam's Big Picture mode, giving you access to the library in your Steam account. There's also a bunch of select titles available for streaming direct through the SHIELD, including the Tomb Raider reboot, This War of Mine, Half-Life 2, Mini Metro, Ultimate Chicken Horse, and more.
NVIDIA's release didn't mention anything about Geforce Now, NVIDIA's Netflix-esque service for game streaming. Given how significant the bandwidth requirements are for that, however, it's not something most Australians able to take advantage of anyway. But streaming buttery smooth gameplay throughout your internal network is more than possible, and the SHIELD can broadcast 4K HDR footage (compared to the Steam Link, which caps out at 1080p/60fps).
We'll be spending some time with the SHIELD later this week, and I'll have my thoughts for you when the embargo lifts. But if you're a PC gamer who can't stand the in-built apps on your smart TV, and you don't want to invest in a console to upgrade the experience in your living room, this might be worth a look.