Nvidia has just unveiled a new handheld gaming system called Project Shield. Project Shield is powered by the Tegra 4 processor and can play console-quality games while still providing a mobile experience. The processor is capable of pushing 4K resolution video over HDMI to external displays. It includes advanced sound processing that Nvidia says rivals Beats Audio-equipped laptops, and a 33Wh battery that provides five to ten hours of play time or 24 hours of HD video playback. It features a 5-inch, 720p Retinal multitouch display with 294ppi pixel density, and has a slot for micro-SD card expansion. The Shield runs Android — pure Android without a skin, as Nvidia insists — and includes Google's apps for Gmail and the Play Store.

It should look familiar to anyone who has held an Xbox 360 controller

In addition to supporting all of the games available to Android devices and the games in the Tegra Zone, the Shield also has the ability to stream games from a home Windows PC equipped with a GeForce GTX 650 (or higher) graphics card to the handheld device over Wi-Fi, letting users access their library of PC games, including games in the Steam library, anywhere in their home. It access the games on the home PC and run them virtually on the Shield. In the future, Nvidia says that it will add support to stream content from the Shield to a television wirelessly, so you can watch video and play games on your TV display without being tethered by wires. Of course, with support for the standard Android platform, the Shield also has access to the hundreds of thousands of apps that are available in the Google Play Store.

Hardware-wise, the Shield has a clamshell design with a gaming controller attached below the device's display. The controller has dual control sticks, a D-pad, and multiple action buttons — it should look familiar to anyone who has held an Xbox 360 controller.

Unfortunately, Nvidia did not announce a price for Project Shield, but it says that it will be coming to the US and Canada in the second quarter of this year. Either way, it seems that things just got a bit more interesting for both the mobile gaming space and the Android gaming world.