Before Nvidia branched out into tablets and set top boxes, the Nvidia Shield lineup got its start as a portable Android handheld. The console consisted of a Shield controller and a flippable screen, similar to the Gameboy Advance SP. Since its initial release, Nvidia has taken the Shield brand in different directions but it looks like at one point, the company did consider releasing a Shield Portable 2, as an unreleased prototype has mysteriously appeared at a pawn shop in Canada.
The original Shield Portable launched in the US back in 2013 and unfortunately did not release internationally. It was a really cool device at the time but for one reason or another, it didn’t quite catch on commercially, even with features like Nvidia Game Stream supported, allowing users to stream their PC games to the console over their home network. After its release Nvidia, switched to the Shield Tablet instead but it looks like before that, the company was working on a Shield Portable 2. The unreleased product features a front camera, a better screen, a better button layout for the controller and a beefier SoC powering the whole thing.
Over on Reddit, user FwrigginRwootbeer made the discovery at a pawn shop in “a small Canadian city”. He then posted all the images you can see in the gallery above. Previously, this person owned an original Shield Portable, so when they spotted a slightly different looking version in the shop, curiosity got the better of him, leading to him buying it. AndroidPolice later got in touch with its contacts to verify that this was an unreleased Shield Portable 2 prototype and confirm the specs.
The report confirms that this was a developer unit of the Shield Portable 2 and was never intended for public release. The photos match an FCC filing from Nvidia made last year and going by the CPU-Z screenshots, it appears to be powered by the Tegra X1, as the specs are very similar to that chip.
We don’t know why Nvidia decided not to release this particular product but there are a number of factors at play. For starters, we know now that Nvidia has partnered with Nintendo to provide hardware for the Switch. This console also uses the Tegra X1, so perhaps Nvidia decided to put its own portable on the back burner to focus on providing SoCs for Nintendo instead. Alternatively, the developer kit may have received poor feedback or had its own share of issues that we don’t know about. Either way, it would be interesting to see Nvidia speak out on this.
KitGuru Says: It’s not every day you see prototype hardware make it out into the wild, especially not from a company as secretive as Nvidia. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nvidia attempted to recover the prototype though, after all, it is technically the company’s intellectual property.