The latest Nvidia Shield TV model came in with a cylindrical black chassis that differentiate it from other similar products in the market. It’s a streaming video player like no other; for a reasonable price of 149$ you get an AI upscaling feature that is found in high-end TVs like the ones from Samsung, Sony and LG. That’s why it’s considered one of the best streaming media players on the market, and a micro-console with a competitive edge.
Although its price is higher than basic-level 4K streaming TVs like Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick +, it offers more 4K HDR streaming power plus better performance, as it offers:
- AI upscaling feature
- HDR10 support
- Dolby Vision content support
- Dolby Atmos audio support
- A redesigned, more user friendly remote
- Built-in Google assistant
- Latest version of Android TV
- Compatible with 802.11ac Wi-Fi
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On the down side:
- The device doesn’t come with an HDMI cable in the box nor a Nvidia game controller
- Pricy for a 4K media streamer
- No Apple TV app
- Lack of USB ports
Nvidia Shield TV availability
The latest Nvidia Shield TV model was released in October 2019 in 2 configurations, which are compatible with DualShock4 and Xbox One controllers.
- The cylindrical Nvidia Shield TV (reviewed in this article) which is sold for 149$
- Nvidia Shield Pro that has an additional 1GB of RAM and a larger hard drive for 199$.
Nvidia Shield TV design
The new Nvidia Shield TV looks like Amazon Echo from the side, so it can fit easily into the back of any entertainment center not to cause signal interference with the TV. Its cylindrical design gives it a unique aesthetic appeal.
When it comes to wireless performance, the new Nvidia Shield TV is almost the same as Amazon Fire TV Cube and similar media players.
You will find the power and ethernet connectors in a cutaway cove on one side; to protect them from damage. While the HDMI-out and reset button are on the other side.
The ethernet port is a more reliable network for 4K video streaming and GeForce Now gaming, through plugging ethernet cable directly from your router into the Nvidia Shield.
On the inside of the Nvidia Shield TV, you will find
- Tegra X1+ processor, that is used to process the AI upscaling feature
- 2GB of RAM
- 8GB of storage
The Shield Pro model comes with extra power through:
- Extra 1GB of RAM (3GB in total)
- Extra 8GB storage (16 GB in total)
- 2 USB ports
- PLEX media server support
- The ability to broadcast Samsung SmartThings and Twitch from the console itself
The device comes with a new plastic triangular remote, with backlit buttons and a built-in remote finder feature. Although the remote is made of plastic, it has a good grip.
The remote is equipped with the basic playback control functions, 2 Android TV buttons and a dedicated Netflix button. It has HDMI CEC support for controlling TV volume through remote volume buttons.
On the down side, the remote needs 2 AAA disposable batteries to work, so you will have to change them regularly.
Features and Android TV
The Nvidia Shield TV comes with:
- Latest Android TV version
- Google’s smart TV platform depends on rows and blocks to show content
The Android TV allows you to access various content from different sources, with rows arranged to make it easy for you to navigate including the first row for the most regularly-used apps.
The device supports most streaming services such as Netflix and Vudu, which offers Dolby Vision support out of the box; plus Amazon Prime, YouTube, HBO, Twitch, Hulu, Sling TV, Crackle, EPIX and others. However, the Apple TV is not there although it was released on many platforms such as Fire TV and Roku.
Other features include:
- Built-in Chromecast, to stream content from your smartphone, tablet or PC to the player
- The ability to go back and forth between being a streaming media player and a microgame console that is capable of playing Android TV games found on the Google Play Store, stream games from Nvidia’s Geforce Now service or sideload emulators for your favorite retro game consoles.
- GameStreaming feature to stream games from your computer to the Nvidia Shield
- Comes with a nearly complete version of Google Assistant, to help you control your smart home, ask about somethings and more through voice commands. However, it’s not as helpful as other platforms like Roku.
The games that can be downloaded from Android TV are usually old, unlike Games from GeForce Now which are much newer.
Because of the lack of a USB port in the main version of Nvidia Shield, you can’t plug in a Samsung SmartThings dongle and use the ecosystem.
Through the new Nvidia Shield TV, you can stream and watch various content, from YouTube videos to HD TV shows and Dolby Vision supported content from Netflix.
The AI upscaler
The AI upscaler feature is what differentiates the Nvidia streaming device visual performance from other similar devices such as Roku Ultra or an Amazon Fire TV Cube.
- Powered by an algorithm determined by a neural network that was fed with thousands of hours of footage, which had been processed locally and can sharpen content greatly to provide you with a great picture on your 4K TV.
- The AI upscaler feature shines when it comes to streaming HD content, even old content from 20 years back.
Because of supporting the highest-end HDR format, there is some content that doesn’t need upscaling. Try watching the “our Planet” documentary on Netflix, you will be amazed by the spectacular picture, which is supported by Dolby Vision.
The device buffers the content smoothly when jumping from one scene to another, with almost no problems.
The Android TV performance can be a bit of a drawback though, as it can be buggy and you can get system crashing errors.
When to buy or not buy the Nvidia Shield TV
If you are a Premium Cord-Cutter or a Streamer, then the Nvidia Shield premium 4K HDR/Dolby Vision streaming player is your way to go.
Also, if you are a discerning cinephile, the AI upscaling feature will give you an one of a kind experience.
On the other hand, if you are a budget Cord-Cutter then you can go for the 4K HDR streaming player cheaper options, but you will be skipping out on some features.
Also, if you are an HDTV Owner, then the Shield is probably more power than needed. So, save yourself this small fortune and go for something like the Roku Express instead.
At the end…
The Nvidia Shield TV is an incredibly powerful streaming player because of its AI upscaling tech and HDR10 and Dolby Vision content support. Although the Android TV operating system lacking a controller is disappointing, its visual performance is great.