NVIDIA SHIELD TV Review
NVIDIA today, has released its next-gen SHIELD TV to the Australian and New Zealand markets. Available in the US and Europe as of late last year, it is now time for us to get our hands on NVIDIA’S latest Streaming Media Player. The next-gen SHIELD TV features an elegant all-new design that’s great to travel with, along with class leading features that include support for Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos, improved image quality with AI (a new innovation for streaming media players), Google Assistant, and 4K HDR to ensure that the SHIELD TV is your go to device for all your entertainment requirements.
The SHIELD TV will come in two variants; the SHIELD TV and the SHIELD TV Pro. I will primarly focus on the SHIELD TV today, but will cover the advantages of the enthusiasts pro model later in our review.
Building on a long list of firsts for the streaming segment, the new SHIELD TV screams premium and it is definitely not to be mistaken for any old streaming device. NVIDIA are out to raise the bar on new technology in the category and I can assure you one thing; they have delivered. Powered by its Tegra X1+ processor, which is capable of delivering 25% faster performance from the previous gen Shield, the all-new SHIELD TV is able to provide highest quality visuals and sound experience to-date from the Shield family.
● Tegra X1+ processor with 2GB RAM
● Gigabit Ethernet & 802.11ac Wi-Fi
● Bluetooth 5.0 + LE
● HDMI-CEC port
● 8GB storage with MicroSD card expansion slot
What’s in the Box
● NVIDIA SHIELD TV
● SHIELD TV Remote control
● AU Power cord
● SHIELD TV Quick Start guide
● SHIELD TV Support booklet
The all-new SHIELD TV has been designed to disappear behind your TV, so to speak, replacing the current-gen dongle approach and transitioning to a much more aesthetically pleasing form factor design. This means that the SHIELD can be placed away (or hidden) from other devices, addressing one of the flaws of the previous SHIELD; Wi-Fi connectivity. I found streaming gameplay with my current-gen SHIELD over Wi-Fi was not ideal. I constantly experienced lag and was forced to use a wired connection. But as the new form factor designs allows for the SHIELD TV to be placed away from other devices, I found improvement over Wi-Fi and had no issues streaming any games or media content over either Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
NVIDIA have ensured that the SHIELD TV is able to cater to the local market, supporting all major Australian content providers on Android TV including free-to-air TV apps such as: ABC iView, SBS On Demand, 10Play, 9Now, 7Plus and FOXTEL. For all you sporting fans out there, don’t worry, NVIDIA have included support from popular sport streaming apps such as Kayo and Optus Sports, meaning live sport streaming is only a press away.
A common downfall with most streaming devices is device updates. How many times has a new app launched, but your favourite streaming device hasn’t, or in some cases won’t update to support it? Well, this is one of NVIDIA main philosophies with the SHIELD TV; ensuring its continued investment with updates. This means NVIDIA are ensuring that the next-gen SHIELD TV will always be fresh and feature ongoing support in relations to new and updated apps.
Combine this dedicated support with the fact that the SHIELD is an open platform, means that there no other streaming device can even come CLOSE to the next-gen SHIELD, regardless if it is an Android based device or not. NVIDIA have even partnered with Amazon to ensure consumers have access to Twitch, Prime Video, and Alexa control. Android TV provides access to the Google eco system on your SHIELD TV and with Google Assistant by your side to provide access to your photos, calendar discover new contact and control your TV or smart home devices.
NVIDIA has also delivered on community feedback, addressing niggles with the current-gen Shield remote. Wait, was that a sign of relief? We now have dedicated buttons for power, volume, fast-forward/rewind/pause/play, and a programmable button that can be assigned to pretty much anything… A mute for Jimmy’s game streams would be nice!
The newly designed remote also features two of my favourite additions to this gen Shield: motion-activated backlit buttons, and a find my remote feature, which can be activated from the SHIELD TV mobile app or the from the SHIELD TV device itself, pretty handy if you ask me. In fact they have done such a great job refining the remote it can be purchased separately after launch and compatible with the previous generation SHIELD.
I know I’ve fanboyed the remote, but being your hands-on interaction with the SHIELD TV from first wield; the buttons, the weight and the responsiveness all execute in such a satisfying way I felt it had to be highlighted.
Putting the SHIELD TV through its paces was my Hisense M7000UWG 55″ ULED HDR Smart LED LCD TV. Connected through its HDR enabled HDMI port, instantly the SHIELD TV was able to detect my 4K HDR setup and I was ready to begin!
Once connected and powered on, I was greeted by the peaceful music that guides you through the setup process. Connecting the device to your network and accounts was straight forward and painless (honestly, it was!). I especially enjoyed the ease of sharing my Wi-Fi password directly to the device, all by linking the SHIELD TV to my phone.
Once you have completed any pending updates, you are able to select any additional apps that you wish to pre-install. All the big names are there- Stan, Twitch, YouTube Kids, and Disney+. Once the initial setup had completed, you are finally ready to customise your home screen and put the SHIELD to use. A clear ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ mentality is apparent with the software, which is a good thing. The responsive and intuitive navigation is a pleasure and will feel familiar to existing SHIELD owners, while easy access to apps, menus, and settings from the remote was second nature.
Now for some of the juicy tech stuff. you know, first date conversion material, so take note…
Building on the previous capabilities of the new SHIELD TV, the device aims to level up your ‘Netflix and Chill’ experience with Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos, in other words; the gold standard of audio and video capabilities. Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+ streams will all be in Dolby Vision with Atmos audio on supported streams, with Stan joining the impressive list soon.
If Dolby Vision is not available, HDR10 is still supported and will be used automatically, proving that the SHIELD TV is smarter than your average streaming device. I can honestly say that I love checking to see what mode the TV is displaying, thankfully this can be viewed from the settings menu.
You may have remembered I previously mentioned AI Upscaling, this is another first for NVIDIA in streaming players and let me do my best to explain NVIDIA’S new AI tech. First a little background; 4K TV’s are pretty standard these days, but the content your watching is most likely to be HD (720p) or Full HD (1080p). In order to display this content at 4K resolution, it will be upscaled to fit the increased resolution. This means that the source content is stretched to fit your nice 4K TV, leaving it far cry from the JB Hi-Fi 4K demo loop that made you question reality.
This is where SHIELD TV’s AI-enhanced upscaling comes in; “The technology upscales HD video in real-time to 4K for a clearer, crisper picture using AI and power of the Tegra X1+ processor.” NVIDIA has achieved this by training a deep learning neural network, to predict the difference between a regular linear scaled video and high-resolution 4K reference quality video. Now when fed only the scaled video content, it can apply the prediction and produce near 4K results, all in real-time. This may sound
There are a few requirements for AI Upscaling to work, but when applied (hard to see from a static photo) the results are impressive. This kind of technology has to be seen in person to really appreicate it, static pictures just don’t do this incrediable technology justice. This technology really excels when watching older media content, or watching your favourite streamer on Twitch. Twitch streamers record their content in 720p, meaning that when I watch their stream on my 4K resolution TV, the gameplay I am watching is usually subpar.
But I could honestly notice the difference thanks to AI Upscaling. SHIELD TV also allows you to toggle your video upscaling mode with the click of a button on your d-pad (once enabled), allowing you to compare live or paused video quality differences in real-time – Magic of the Wizards, Jimmy.
You may think that the SHIELD TV is only good for streaming media, but one of the biggest draws for myself is the ability to play video games on the SHIELD TV. Unfortunatly, gaming, along with some accessories like the HDMI cable and the controller, are all BYO. But if you are a SHIELD TV owner (or a console/mobile gamer), then chances are you own a supported controller.
● Shield Controller
● Android Game Controller
● XBOX One Wireless Controller,
● PS4 DualShock 4 Wireless Controller
SHIELD TV is complemented by a growing liberty of Android games that are purposely designed to be played from your couch. In addition to Andriod games, you can also take full advantage of NVIDIA’S Gamestream technology and stream all your favorite games direct to you TV from your supported Geforce PC.
NVIDIA SHIELD TV
Overall, my experience with the SHIELD TV has been positive. The home screen customization with zero ads in sight, easy to access menus and navigation are snappy, apps are quick to load, and I experienced no issues with compatibility. The addition of AI Upscaling, Dolby, and HDR ensures that image quality is paramount, regardless of the media source.
However, the SHEILD TV isn’t perfect. The quality of the plastic used on the SHIELD TV felt sub par, also the inclusion of a HDMI cable would have be nice.
If your in the market for a Android streaming device, or any streaming device at all, you simply can’t pass on the SHIELD TV.
SHIELD TV will be available on March 19th for $289.95, making it the most affordable SHIELD TV device yet.
SHIELD TV Pro
Along with all of the features of SHIELD TV, the SHIELD TV Pro will also be available on March 19th for $399.95. Aim at media and gaming enthusiasts, who require additional
SHIELD TV Pro Specs
● Plex Media Server support
● SmartThings Link Ready
● 2 full size USB 3.0 ports
● 3GB RAM (up from 2GB)
● 16GB storage (up from 8GB)
● Advanced Android Games (Half-Life 2 series, Portal 2, Borderlands: TPS, Borderlands 2, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance, Resident Evil 5, Doom 3, Tomb Raider, The Witness, and more)
● Gameplay recording and Gameplay Broadcast to Twitch
For more on NVIDIA, check out our previous coverage.