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Nvidia Grid Becomes GeForce Now: Why Now is Better

The Nvidia Shield Android TV has continued to grow since it first launched back in May. Its app support has grown considerably, almost reaching 900, with apps like Showtime Anytime expected to be supported soon. It is still the only set top box that supports media streaming at 4K, 60fps. Furthermore, the Tegra X1 boasts the most power of any system, even compared to the upcoming versions of Apple TV and Fire TV. Starting tomorrow, October 1st, the Shield Android TV will begin an all-new phase in its ongoing development in being the only set top box that streams high quality games the way Netflix streams movies.

There has been a 50% percent growth in Android games designed to take advantage of the Shield family's hardware, primarily ported from PC and consoles. As an added bonus, the October 1st system update will allow Android games to be upscaled to 4K, even if they weren't originally designed to support that resolution. Results may vary from game to game, but players should see crisper graphics in most cases.

The set top box will also see a bigger retail presence in stores like Best Buy, Fry's Electronics, and Micro Center. Perhaps most interestingly, Nvidia has entered into a partnership with Google Fiber, and customers in cities that support it can pick up an Shield Android TV systems at Google Fiber stores or add it to their carts when they purchase a subscription.

However, the biggest news to come out tomorrow will be official launch of the cloud-based video game streaming service, GeForce Now - formerly known as Nvidia Grid. The Grid service was used as a test bed to gather usage data, and GeForce Now represents the final results from all that testing.

Even with the growin availability of broadband, streaming is steadily changing the way we consume media, and Nvidia wants to fill the need for video games. Instead of waiting hours for a game to download and install, players can simply launch a game stream in 30 seconds without hassle. That means no driver updates, optimizing performance, troubleshooting or worrying about hard drive space. Players simply start the game and get the best experience possible.

The Shield Android TV already supports voice search for entertainment like movies, and GeForce Now will expand its capabilities to support game searches. Those who own the Shield Remote can use its voice search functionality to find the games that they want to play. For example, doing a search for Lego or Batman will bring up all related games. Additionally, the revamped interface will make it easy to see the most recently played, most popular, and featured games. There will also be parental controls so that GeForce Now will be kid safe.

Nvidia promises to upgrade its hardware and servers every year to provide the best performance and power possible. GeForce Now games also offer an opportunity for players to experience the Nvidia Gameworks features like PhysX at their highest settings without having to invest in a high end video card.

Users will have to pay a membership fee, but a GeForce Now subscription will include up to 50 games to play immediately, with more expected to come. These are generally older games like Saints Row The Third and Batman Arkham Asylum, which will eventually be rotated out according to age and popularity, but subscribers will be able to play them without limitations. However, the big news is the introduction of a new games store, where subscribers can purchase more recent games, like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, to stream and play. The store will start with 10 games, with the goal of eventually including day 1 releases of the latest games. Prices will be comparable to other digital stores like Steam and GOG, but the most exciting aspect is that most of the game will include a retail key for the full downloadable version. So, players won't always be limited to streaming their games. Retail keys are limited to publisher participation.

A GeForce Now subscription will cost $7.99 a month, with the first 3 months of service free, and users can cancel at any time. The service officially launches on October 1, 2015 and is exclusive to Nvidia Shield devices like the Shield Android TV.

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