For those with a fast enough Internet connection, Nvidia's GRID cloud gaming service is getting a lot crisper.
An update to the service allows for streaming PC games in 1080p resolution on televisions from a Shield Portable or Shield Tablet, up from 720p when GRID launched last year. Nvidia says games will still run at 60 frames per second with no additional lag. For now, 1080p streaming is part of the Shield Hub public beta, which you can sign up for through Nvidia's website.
The catch? You'll need at least a 30Mbps Internet connection to take advantage, and Nvidia recommends 50Mbps if you're in a house with multiple people vying for bandwidth. As we've noted in our GRID hands-on, you'll also want a 5GHz connection on a dual-band router to achieve 60 frames per second. (Nvidia's software automatically tests the connection and adjusts streaming quality accordingly.)
The only thing that's missing now is a set-top for playing those games on the big screen. In March, Nvidia announced a Shield console with GRID as the centerpiece, and said it would ship in May. But the company has stayed quiet about the console since then, and a spokesman said it had nothing new to announce at this time.
In lieu of the console, users can plug a Shield Portable or Shield Tablet into their televisions with an HDMI cable, paired with Nvidia's controller over Wi-Fi Direct. The service is free for Shield owners until June 30, when Nvidia plans to launch a subscription service.
Why this matters: The streaming games model still has a long way to go, especially among players who won't tolerate input lag and don't want to pay extra for a collection of cloud-only games. This became readily apparent last month, when OnLive shut down and sold its assets to Sony. If Nvidia wants to avoid the same fate, it'll have to quickly close the gap in quality between streaming and local play. The bump to 1080p is, at least, a good start.