NVIDIA Shield TV

Up until now, the best option for a streaming device for your TV has really been a console, because we have all struggled with the apps on a smart tv, and know the frustration of this. Consoles have just been the simpler answer to getting the smart TV type functions we want on our TVs (smart or otherwise).

But this idea has officially been blown out of the water by Nvidia with the introduction of the upgraded Nvidia Shield TV.

Nvidia very kindly sent us one of their Shield TV gaming edition units to review, and frankly we have been stunned by it! The features are vast, and the quality is outstanding.

So whats it all about…and why do you need one?

The Shield turns any TV in your house into a smart TV….But better! Smart TVs are really not known for being “smart” In fact mostly all they do is drive us crazy. The definition of a smart TV is a tv which can connect to the internet. But we need more than this, and Smart TVs just don’t deliver. They are slow, have limited memory and even more limited apps. They are not updated regularly enough by the manufacturer to keep up with apps and video standards, which renders them pretty useless.

Nvidia have been selling and improving the Shield TV overseas since 2015, but the latest edition which we have now seen launched in Australia hit the market in a big way and has left the competition trailing far behind.

Why has it made such a big difference?

Take a look at the graphs below and see the comparisons:

Note: Only the 500 GB PRO version has a Micro SD, and this version is NOT currently available in Australian shops, but I did find some on eBay and on Amazon.

 

I think everyone will agree those figures are impressive! Prior to the Shield TV hitting our shores, Apple TV pretty much had the Monopoly, and when you see how far behind Nvidia it has fallen it is no wonder The Shield TV is making such an impression. And we haven’t even spoken about gaming yet! But lets not jump so far ahead. First of all lets have a closer look at the actual unit itself!

The box is nice and sturdy, with great embossed detail showing the Shield TV as it is in real life, with both matte and glossy accents. Great attention has been made to packaging and ensuring the product arrives to you in perfect condition.

SO whats in the box?

I probably should mention here that there are two versions of The Shield TV.  There is the NVIDIA Shield TV. This comes with just the Shield and the remote. The version we received is the NVIDIA Shield TV Gaming Edition, which comes with the Shield, remote and a controller.

So as I mentioned above, you get the Shield TV, a remote and a power adapter, which includes the plugs for whichever country you live in. If you get the Gaming Edition you will also receive a controller and a charging cable for the controller.

One thing we did notice is that the Shield has a very unique power adapter plug, so if it gets damaged or you lose it, it will not be a matter of just using another one you have on hand. The controller charging cable has a unique Shield image on it, so it will be easy to keep up with…(I love this feature, its a little thing, but I am impressed by it! Our worlds are so full of charging cables it is nice to be 100% sure which one belongs to which device.)

 

The Shield TV surprised me with its size. It was MUCH smaller than I had imagined. The actual unit is about the same size as a Postcard (15.9 cm X 9.8 cm) and looked smaller than the controller it came with!

 

The fantastic thing about the shield and being able to screen capture, screenshot and stream, is that you can plug the Shield directly into your computer, using the USB 3.0 port (port 1) furthest from the HDMI port to transfer files. And it is so easy! I transferred all of my files in no time. You can also do this over your local network if your modem allows it. Ours didn’t, but only because of some intricate MikroTik configurations we have.

The remote is simple in design, but it does much more than you would first believe. It has a microphone for voice commands through Google Assistant. Functions such as “Shut down” or search work fantastically well. It took a little while to work out the volume function, as this is a swipe action up or down the remote (as shown in the diagram above). The onscreen volume slider shows the volume level. The D-pad works just like a D-pad on a controller, giving you left, right, up and down functions, and the centre round button is the “ok” or select button. Long pressing the Home button will bring up the screen capture options, while the back button is pretty self explanatory.

The batteries in the remote will last approximately 1 year, and are changed by pressing in the small circular shape on the bottom end of the remote to open a sliding drawer.

 

The controller is VERY cool looking! It features an awesome geometric design, which is truly unique. It feels comfortable in the hand and is super responsive. As with the remote, the controller features a mic for Google Assistant, and has a headset jack for private gaming/listening. The usual controller buttons feature, as well as the buttons on the remote (the Home button, Back button). The controller is charged via a micro to USB cable included in the box, but will allow for up to 60 hours of gaming time when fully charged.

Specs:

Processor: 

NVIDIA® Tegra® X1 processor with a 256-core GPU and 3 GB RAM

Video Features:

4K HDR ready. Up to 4K HDR playback at 60 FPS (H.265/HEVC). Up to 4K playback at 60 FPS (VP8, VP9, H.264, MPEG1/2). Up to 1080p playback at 60 FPS (H.263, MJPEG, MPEG4, WMV9/VC1)

Format/Container support:

Xvid/ DivX/ASF/AVI/MKV/MOV/M2TS/MPEG-TS/MP4/WEB-M

Audio: 

Dolby Atmos (pass-through) and DTS-X surround sound (pass-through) over HDMI. High-resolution audio playback up to 24-bit/192 kHz over HDMI and USB. High-resolution audio up-sample to 24-bit/192 kHz over USB

Audio support:

AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3, WAVE, AMR, OGG Vorbis, FLAC, PCM, WMA, WMA-Pro, WMA-Lossless, DD+/DTS (pass-through), Dolby Atmos (pass-through), Dolby TrueHD (pass-through), DTS-X, and DTS-HD (pass-through)

Storage: 

16 GB (Note: portion of storage occupied by system software).
NVIDIA recommends these USB 3.0 flash drives for best performance and compatibility on SHIELD TV:

Wireless: 

802.11ac 2×2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi. Bluetooth 4.1/BLE. Captive Portal support.

Interfaces: 

Gigabit Ethernet. HDMI 2.0b with HDCP 2.2 and CEC support. Two USB 3.0 (Type A)

Weight & Size: 

Weight: 250 g
Height:  9.800 cm
Width: 15.800 cm
Depth: 2.593 cm

Operating System:

Android 8.0 (Oreo) powered by Android TV™ and Google Cast™ (Chromecast built-in)

Software Updates:

SHIELD software upgrades directly from NVIDIA

Power:

40 W power adapter (5-10 W typical consumption)

Gaming Features:

NVIDIA GameStream™
NVIDIA Share

Included Accessories:

SHIELD Controller
– Mic for voice search
– Hands-free voice support
– Headset jack for private listening
– Dual vibration feedback
– IR blaster for TV volume & power control
– 60+ hour gaming battery life
SHIELD Remote:
– Mic for voice search
– IR blaster for TV volume and power control

Included Apps:

NVIDIA Games
Netflix
Amazon Prime Video
YouTube
Google Play Store
Google Play Movies & TV
Google Play Music
PLEX
Photos and Videos

The Menu on the Nvidia Shield is uncomplicated and easy to navigate, and MUCH less frustrating than the ever changing console menu screens. The following video shows the layout, and was filmed via screen recorder in the Shield. (please note the quality has been deteriorated by the editing software I used, the original is MUCH better quality).

The apps shown on this recording are the apps which the shield comes pre-installed with in Australia. There are multiple free to play games as well, so you can use all of the features pretty much straight away, which is pretty awesome.

The recording feature is fantastic. At first I did not realise but the quality was set to low. After increasing the video recording quality to high (through the settings option) the videos I recorded improved greatly, it just depends on what you want from the video. I have included a video of low quality and one of high playing the same game so you can see the difference.

The first video below is low quality (if you make the video larger you will be able to see better) Its not terrible, I personally have seen some Twitch streamers have MUCH worse quality! But compared with the high quality it is fairly poor.

This next video is the High quality. And no, being better quality does NOT (sadly) improve my gaming skills….Ah well, can’t have it all!

 

So the above examples show one of the free to play games on the shield. But probably one of the most awesome features is the ability to GameStream, or to play your Steam library of PC games in the comfort of your lounge room!

for a full list of Shield Games and GameStream games, click on THIS link, at the bottom of the page you can view all of the games in each category, and if they need a controller or not!

To make use of GameStream, your PC must be able to meet certain requirements:

 

I successfully set up GameStream and enjoyed some of my Steam games in great quality. The 3GB RAM is ok for Gaming, but I feel The Nvidia Shield would be better with more.

The great thing with the shield is that you can stream your game play.

This works pretty much flawlessly, without any noticeable lag. (obviously better through a wired connection rather than over wifi)

If you enjoy streaming or recording your game play, you do not need a separate capture card, as this is built in to the shield.

Of course as with any streaming, if you are streaming your own content it will stream perfectly, but streaming a third party will be very dependent on loads of influences:

1. quality of internet.

2. time of day

3. Quality of the stream

4. number of people on the same server.

But the shield will be much better than the alternative streaming devices available on the market currently. Will it be flawless and never have a problem? well no, but this is due to the literally hundreds of possible conflicts which can happen with the internet.

 

Now, onto 4K streaming….can I just say WOW? we have a 4K TV, and I managed to record some of the 4K content from YouTube which I viewed on the Shield. Naturally depending on the capacity of the screen you are viewing this review on you may not get the full effect, but you will get an idea. I will just say you WONT be disappointed! Below we have the 4K app support diagram, and AGAIN the Shield is so far ahead of the rest of the pack it is almost embarrassing!

 

Anyway, enjoy some 4K clips I made:

 

Which Apps support 4K content?

4K TVs are becoming very popular and 4K content is growing quickly. Here are the most popular apps that support 4K streaming:

  • Netflix (shows like House of Cards, Marvel’s Daredevil, Breaking Bad, Marco Polo, and more)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Shows like Grand Tour, Bosch, Goliath, and more)
  • YouTube (4K movie trailers and channels like RocketJump, GoPro, Devinsupertramp, and more)
  • Google Play Movies & TV (coming January 2017)
  • Ultraflix
  • Vimeo
  • Toon Goggles
  • Media Players like Plex, Kodi, VLC, MX Player, and the preinstalled Photos & Video app
Make sure your subscription account level support 4K streaming. For Netflix, this requires the premium account.

 

Google Assistant features:

We did touch on a few aspects of Google Assistant,  you can voice dictate, and ask google to perform tasks. through your Shield, and we have found this to be very accurate. This is backed up by a report by Wordstream.com .   And can be seen in their graph below:

 

If you wish to control all of your smart home devices, you can do this with the NVIDIA shield. But you do need to buy a Samsung smart things Link dongle (available seperately).

What is SmartThings Link?

SmartThings Link is a small device that plugs into a USB port  of your NVIDIA SHIELD. It allows it to connect wirelessly with  smart devices and make them work together.

What can I do with SmartThings Link?

SmartThings Link allows you to monitor and control devices you have connected using voice commands or the SmartThings app on your smartphone. You can also automate devices in your home and set them to turn on or off, and much more.

Click HERE to discover how to make your Shield a SmartThings HUB.

 

To add extra storage to your shield:

NVIDIA recommends the following USB flash drives for SHIELD TV. These recommendations are especially important if you plan to format the drive as internal storage (to increase storage for apps and games).

Use of other drives could result in reduced system performance.

Recommended USB Flash Drives:

-SanDisk Extreme CZ80 USB 3.0 Flash Drive
SDCZ80-032G-GAM46
SDCZ80-064G-GAM46
SDCZ80-128G-G46

-SanDisk Ultra CZ48 USB 3.0 Flash Drive
SDCZ48-064G-A46
SDCZ48-128G-A46
SDCZ48-256G-A46
SDCZ48-064G-UAM46
SDCZ48-128G-U46
SDCZ48-256G-U46

Pros:

  • Fantastic NVIDIA quality
  • Stylish sleek design.
  • Customer support with NVIDIA is very satisfactory.
  • Very easy to set-up.
  • Portable.
  • GameStream functionality.
  • Great Google Assistant features.
  • Ability to automate your home through SmartThings link.
  • 4K everything (if you have the correct equipment).
  • Dolby Atmos sound.
  • Ongoing and regular updates to firmware.
  • great remote and controller.
  • great app support.
  • Online streaming features.
  • Simple capture options.
  • Expandable memory.
  • Easily connected to PC either by USB or over network

Cons:

  • Micro SD card expansion only available on Pro (500GB) version, which is not currently available in Australian shops.
  • More than 3GB of RAM would be better for gaming.
  • Have to have 4K equipment, ie TV to use these features
  • Need to have 4K capable subscriptions to streaming services to access 4K content.

Price:

At the time of publishing, these are the current prices directly from Nvidia:

 

 

It would be my suggestion to get the Shield TV Gaming edition, as to get the controller separately it will cost you $89.95, and it is worth the initial $80 difference. A lot of games require the controller, and it just makes a more complete and usable package.

In Australia you can buy the Shield from:

And In New Zealand:

Or of course directly from NVIDIA, and they offer free shipping, which is always an awesome deal! link HERE.

 

So would I recommend this product?

Absolutely 100% …get rid of your consoles, and make room in your life for AWESOME!