While quite a bit has been made out of the Steam Machine
, a concept that brings Steam gaming to the living room thanks to some particularly pleasant connectivity points and modified control schemes, the idea of streaming from a PC to a television is something that's gotten considerably less airplay of late. Nvidia, however, is poised to make the idea of streaming from a PC to a television simpler, and a lot more powerful besides...sufficiently so as to make it useful in gaming.
Specifically, this development came as a result of the new Nvidia Shield
, which it showed off at a pre-event event just ahead of CES
2014. Nvidia's talked about the kind of technology required to do that streaming thing before, but this is a bit different in that Nvidia managed to show off the technology complete with a smoothly-executed demo that had nary a hiccup. In this case, the Shield acts as, essentially, a controller for a game running on a PC. The Shield is connected to the television by an HDMI cable, and the whole thing runs with the PC running the game, the Shield controlling the game and rerouting the feed all to the television.
While this might sound like a recipe tailor-made for lag, that proves to be quite not the case, as the exhibition showed a game running from a server in France. That's pretty impressive, and likely more than the standard user will have to work with, but knowing that such a thing could be done is well worth having on hand.
It's a clever idea, too, and a worthwhile workaround. I personally have connected a PC to a television before, and the overall effect does work rather nicely until the issue of controlling games comes around. I remember thinking how much more fun “S.T.A.L.K.E.R” would have been had it had a control scheme like that of “Fallout: New Vegas,” as well as a controller like that too. But trying to keep a keyboard and mouse together for a PC in the living room is a much different affair from doing likewise on a table or a desktop, so there's a certain something lost in the translation there. The use of something like Nvidia's Shield, on the other hand, may be that important missing link, so to speak, between PC gaming and the living room, though I find myself hopeful that the the HDMI cable in question is at least 20 feet long, otherwise users are going to have to sit awfully close to the television to get any kind of value out of it.
Still, it's an exciting leap forward, and may well be more of a help to getting PC gaming into living rooms than any Steam Machine ever could. Only time will tell how well it works, but it's an exciting new possibility all the same.