The Project Shield hardware is powered by the company's newly revealed Tegra 4 mobile processor, which is a quad-core chip based on ARM's Cortex A15 reference design. Apple's iPhone and iPad also feature low-power ARM chips.
On its own, Project Shield plays Android games from the Google Play store on its dedicated 5-inch screen. The device can also stream games from a Windows PC powered by Nvidia GeForce GTX GPUs, including titles on Valve's popular Steam platform.
"Project Shield was created by Nvidia engineers who love to game and imagined a new way to play," said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer at Nvidia. "We were inspired by a vision that the rise of mobile and cloud technologies will free us from our boxes, letting us game anywhere, on any screen. We imagined a device that would do for games what the iPod and Kindle have done for music and books, letting us play in a cool new way. We hope other gamers love Shield as much as we do."
Android titles optimized for Project Shield will also be available on Nvidia's TegraZone game store. Streaming Windows PC games requires an Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 or higher.
The device's 5-inch touchscreen has a 1,280 by 720 display packing in 294 pixels per inch. Nvidia referred to the screen as a "retinal" display, clearly taking influence from Apple's own Retina display branding for pixel-packed screens.
Pricing and availability of Project Shield was not announced by Nvidia on Monday, but the company did say at the Consumer Electronics Show that the hardware is expected to ship in the second quarter of 2013.