Nvidia perhaps surprised everyone by producing its game-centric Shield Tablet device which has received critical acclaim across the board - including a coveted Pocket-lint five-stars in our review - but it's second related launch of the year is perhaps even more surprising still.

Its cloud gaming platform Nvidia Grid is not exactly new, having been available in beta form as an app on Google Play for a while, but it is about to launch in a bigger and more widely available fashion - first in the US, then the UK and across Europe and it could be the catalyst to change the way we game forever.

Pocket-lint even got to play with it prior to the American launch, so here's our handy guide on the new version of Grid and what it offers that has made us so excited over its future.

Nvidia Grid is the company's answer to PlayStation Now or OnLive. It is a cloud gaming service that gives access to games stored on dedicated servers in the US and Europe which you can play on a Shield handheld console or Shield Tablet.

The games are stored and played remotely, but video up to 720p and in 60 frames per second is streamed to your device with control codes being sent in the opposite direction over the internet. It is an extremely low latency service so there is very little lag and it responds as if the game were stored directly on your device. In many ways, you can't tell the difference.

READ: Nvidia Shield Tablet review: The Android gaming powerhouse

The Nvidia Grid Preview launches in the US very soon - November - with a UK launch expected for 2 December. It will be part of the Android 5.0 Lollipop update for a Shield Tablet and will appear as an option in the menu bar of the Shield Hub as simply another zone where you can launch games from. The Shield handheld console will also get it in time.

It will be presented as a scrolling menu of tiles, each featuring a game front cover.

If you own a Shield Tablet or plan to get one, you will need the dedicated game controller that goes with it to play Grid games. The Shield handheld gaming device comes with a controller built in, so will be compatible as soon as the update arrives for that kit.

Pocket-lintNvidia Grid-4

The Nvidia Grid Preview is completely free to all Shield device owners. That means you don't have to pay a subscription or rental fee to play any of the available games. That might change in the future, when it moves out of preview and into full release - currently expected for 30 June 2015 - but no prices have been mentioned as yet.

At launch we were told that there will be "over 20" games ready to play but with the figure closer to 30. Nvidia is in discussion with all of the major games publishers, including Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, so we hope to see titles from those in the coming months.

Launch games include Borderlands 1 and 2, Batman: Arkham City, Dead Island and The Witcher 2. Many more will be available.

They are all full games with no time restrictions or micro-transactions. Plans include the introduction of downloadable content for games that have that option.

All of your save files are stored in the cloud so you can pick up where you left off whenever you like.

Wi-Fi works well (we had it running on a Wi-Fi connection in a hotel room with no problems whatsoever) and the absolute minimum broadband speed it will work on is 1.5Mbps. However, Nvidia recommends at least 6.5Mbps if you want to maintain a stable frame rate and ensure that latency is low.

Indeed, it told us that a 10Mbps connection is ideal as then there is enough bandwidth to have at least 6.5Mbps dedicated to the Grid experience with the rest being used by other internet connected devices at the same time.

In the hotel room where we tested the service, we ran a diagnostics test that showed the speed at 7.96Mbps which meant that there was little jitter (7ms), very low latency at 26ms and no frame rate loss at all.

This meant that games running at 720p in 60fps looked as good as console titles in motion, if not better than some.

At launch there will be no cellular support although Nvidia did say that could change in the future.

At launch, multiplayer won't be possible, but there are plans to enable the Shield Tablet to pair with additional controllers so that you can play same screen multiplayer titles.

Of course. One of the Shield Tablet's big features is that you can plug it into a TV, effectively turning it into a games console. With the low latency Wi-Fi-based controller, that means you get over 20 triple-A titles to play for free from the off.

And, of course, you'll also be able to play Android games optimised for the Nvidia Shield Tablet too. That includes the newly announced Half-Life 2: Episode One, which joins Portal and Half-Life 2 in having optimised graphics for the tablet.