What looks like a potential prototype for a new version of Nvidia's Shield has been spied out in the real world.
According to Redditor FwrigginRwootbeer who was posting on the Nvidia subreddit, the prototype was found at a pawn shop in Canada. Elsewhere on the net, Android Police confirmed that the handheld gaming unit is in fact a developer kit that was never actually meant to be seen in public. The photos also seem to fall in line with FCC documents that were filed last year.
The Shield was initially launched in 2013 as Nvidia's more powerful answer to the likes of the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Vita. Running Nvidia's Tegra 4 chips and on a stock version of Android, the Shield was far more powerful than rival systems and was even able to stream games from PC. Despite its power, the system – renamed to Shield Portable – never really caught on, and was supplanted by a pair of tablet gaming machines.
It is likely that the kit was made last year with its specs matching up with those of the FCC documents. Including pictures of the specs, the dev unit is equipped with an ARM Cortex-A57 CPU at 1.91 GHz (seemingly the Tegra X1 chip), 3GB of RAM and a 5.9-inch, 1440 x 810 pixel resolution screen. Given the intiial system's lack of traction, this Shield probably never got any further than a dev kit and a full retail model is unlikely to ever see the light of day.
Part of the reason for the Shield's failure was its operating system and lack of titles. While its competitors were running bespoke systems for gaming handhelds, the Shield ran the same OS as the vast majority of smartphones which aren't designed as gaming devices. That lends itself to the problems of Google's Play store which is filled with simplistic titles that don't take advantage of the hardware on offer. The system would ultimately then become an expensive streaming device-cum-controller.
This isn't to say that the Shield brand is dead in the water though, with Nvidia still being heavily invested in the Shield TV product line. Earlier this year, the company announced the new Shield TV which offers 4K HDR support.