NVIDIA Updates SHIELD With Kit Kat, New Streaming Options, and Redesigned Gamepad Mapper

NVIDIA has some big things planned for owners of its SHIELD portable gaming device. In addition to bringing new features and capabilities to SHIELD though an upcoming software update, NVIDIA will be upgrading the base OS to Android KitKat, and redesigning the interface of SHIELD’s gamepad mapper to make it more user friendly. Changes are coming to TegraZone as well; it will receive an integrated news feed and a UI facelift designed to better organize and discover games.

The majority of changes coming with the next SHIELD update—due for public release on April 2—are related to GameStream. In an exciting move, NVIDIA will be enabling PC-to-SHIELD game streaming outside the home. Up to this point, game streaming was only enabled on a local network. The GeForce Experience app will get Wake on LAN support and give users the ability to remotely login to their PCs from SHIELD. You’ll need a fast WiFi/broadband connection with a minimum of 5Mb/s up and down, but you’ll be able to access games from virtually anywhere. Of course, latency could be an issue, but that will vary based on distance, the quality of the connection, game settings used, etc.

NVIDIA is also incorporating Bluetooth keyboard and mouse support into SHIELD. If you like to stream games that work best with a mouse and keyboard, you’ll soon be able to do so without having to use the gamepad. Streaming capabilities are also being added to NVIDIA’s line-up of mobile GPUs. Kepler and Maxwell-based GPUs are supported, which include all GeForce GTX 800M, GTX 700M, and most GTX 600M GPUs.

Other additional features coming to SHIELD in the update include the ability to manually add unofficially supported games to your GameStream list from the GeForce Experience app, pin-based PC-to-SHIELD pairing with the ability to pair multiple PCs to a single SHIELD device, and USB Y-cable support to allow charging of your SHIELD when using Ethernet in Console Mode, with a compatible micro USB Host OTG Y cable. The update will also allow users to manually set bitrate, FPS, and optimal game settings preferences to tweak and fine-tune game streaming.

The gamepad mapper that was introduced to SHIELD a few months back is getting a facelift as well. The new gamepad mapper interface offers easier access to download and share profiles and also makes accessing the mapper itself easier. Long-pressing either the NVIDIA button (Power Menu) or Start will now bring up the gamepad mapper.

As we previous mentioned, the upcoming SHIELD update also brings the latest version of Android KitKat to the device, along with all of the performance and usability enhancements that come with it. But perhaps best of all, NVIDIA will be dropping the price of SHIELD too. As of April 2, and through the rest of the month, SHIELD will be available for $199. If you’ve been holding out on getting a SHIELD, we’re sure the new features and lower price point will push a few of you over the edge.