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Nvidia’s Shield gaming handheld hit with last-second delay

An attendee plays on Nvidia Corp.'s Nvidia Shield handheld game console at the company's booth during the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. (Patrick T. Fallon/BLOOMBERG)

Nvidia put the brakes on the launch of its Shield handheld gaming device Wednesday — just a day before the company was set to ship the product to its first customers.

The device was set to be released Thursday, but Nvidia said in a company blog post that it would delay the shipment “into next month” due to a mechanical issue it’s having with a third-party component.

Nvidia is “working around the clock with the supplier to get it up to our expectations,” the firm’s director of the Shield project, Jason Paul, said on the blog. “We apologize to those who have preordered SHIELDs and to all those who are waiting for them to go on sale. But we want every SHIELD to be just right.”

The handheld gaming device, which the firm unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, is Android-based and is also supposed to work with players’ PCs to stream games within their homes. So, if you’re playing a game on Steam while hunched over the PC and you really wish you were hanging out on the couch, you can stream the game to the more portable Shield and lounge away.

During CES, Nvidia co-founder and chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang described Shield as “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.” But that free-range play will have to be put on hold until July, the company said, while it sorts out its quality issues.

This is a critical launch for Nvidia, which has been a big name in the component business for years but which hasn’t come out with its own gaming devices until it announced the Shield in January. The firm may suffer a black eye with consumers over the delay, but it probably couldn’t afford to let its initial device debut to bad reviews.

The Shield is priced at $299, and has a high-definition 720p display. It also runs Nvidia’s own Tegra 4 processor and sports a 5-inch multitouch display.

Related stories:

CES 2013: Nvidia shows off mobile gaming device

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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