There are a lot of media players and set-top boxes available on the market today ranging from a few dollars to around the $100 mark, however when the Nvidia Shield TV is announced from Nvidia with a price tag of $200 it gets people to sit up take notice.
The $200 price point from Nvidia is a lot to swallow when you look at what else is available on the market however Nvidia promises a seriously powerful device that can handle all that is thrown at it. These are some tough fighting words that so many before them have shouted, only to fall on their own sword.
So was the hype real? Check out the Nvidia Shield TV Review below and let’s take a look and see.
What’s in the Box?
The Nvidia Shield TV arrived packed securely in a standard brown shipping carton with adequate padding. The packaging for the Nvidia Shield TV itself looks sleek and robust.
Upon opening the box I was greeted with the following items:
- Nvidia Shield TV Device
- Shield Controller
- HDMI Cable
- USB Cable
- AC Adapter
- Instruction Booklet
A Bold Design Choice
When it comes to product design the Nvidia Shield TV sure makes a bold statement. It’s one aggressive looking beast, matching Nvidia’s strong ties to the gaming community. The slim device with hard angular lines mixing both gloss and matte black certainly means the device will stand out when placed on your nice white home theater cabinet. When plugged in, sections of the Nvidia Shield TV illuminate with the iconic Nvidia green which I think makes a nice change from the common blue lights we see on most devices.
The design of the Nvidia Shield TV is one that you will either love or hate. Personally I love the design due to both the thinness of the device and the statement it makes. Oddly enough, even though it does stand out on my home theater cabinet it still feels like it belongs there.
Included in the box is the Shield controller from Nvidia. In terms of design it closely resembles that of the Xbox, being aimed at both gaming and media playback. The Shield controller connect via Bluetooth meaning that it does not require direct line of sight with the Nvidia Shield TV device.
A series of touch sensitive buttons, dual analogue sticks, control pad and a set of shoulder buttons provides all buttons you need to game and interact with the media player. The controller also works surprisingly well with Kodi’s button layout.
Down the side of the controller is a volume rocker allowing you to easily change volume and the included 3.5mm audio jack on top of the controller provides the ability to listen in peace and quiet.
The one thing that I didn’t particular like is that the controller is just a little too heavy and bulky which can make it a bit annoying to use when sitting on the couch each night watching TV shows and movies.
But Wait, There is Another Option!
If the included Shield controller just isn’t your thing there is another option available in the Nvidia Shield Remote, the only catch though is that you need to buy it. At a whopping $50 the remote is available as an accessory to the Nvidia Shield TV and a great accessory at that, but is it actually worth the $50?
Nvidia has gone for a more premium approach to the remote unlike other cheaper alternatives on the market. The remote comes in a nice brushed aluminium finish with a rechargeable battery and Bluetooth connectivity. The rechargeable battery is a great addition and can be easily charged via USB.
The remote has a simple 5 button configuration with a circular navigation, select button, back button, home button and Google Voice button. The remove also has a touch sensitive volume slider located in the centre of the control. The buttons are configurable for Kodi etc. which meant that I found no problem using the remote control for watching my media.
The only issue I have with the remote control besides the price is the fact that it does tend to get lost on my couches thanks to its low profile design.
Is the remote control worth the $50 extra? I’m not really sure. Personally I feel that this remote should have been the one included in the box and the Shield controller should have been the extra accessory.
The Nvidia Shield TV packs a serious punch when it comes to hardware specs sporting the latest hardware out there. As a result the Nvidia Shield TV is the most powerful set-top box out there, only beaten by the Xbox One and PS4. Thanks to the beefy hardware inside the Nvidia Shield TV you can play more demanding games, stream higher quality content and push the device much further than you can other devices on the market.
- NVIDIA Tegra® X1 processor with a 256-core GPU and 3 GB RAM
- 4K Ultra HD ready
- 4K playback at 60 FPS (VP9, H265, H264)
- 4K capture at 30 FPS (H264, H265)
- Supports: MPEG-2/ MPEG-4/ Xvid/ DivX/ WMV9/ ASF/ AVI/ MKV/ MOV/ M2TS/ MPEG-TS/ H.263/ H.264/ H.265/ VC-1/ VP8/ VP9
- AUDIO 7.1 and 5.1 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
- Supports: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3, WAVE, AMR, OGG Vorbis, FLAC, PCM, WMA, WMA-Pro, WMA-Lossless, DD+/DTS (pass-through), DTS-HD MA (pass-through), Dolby TrueHD (pass-through)
- 16 GB and 500 GB (Note: portion of storage occupied by system software) Expandable with microSD card or USB drive.
- 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.1/BLE
- Gigabit Ethernet
- HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2
- Two USB 3.0 (Type A)
- Micro-USB 2.0
- MicroSD slot
- IR receiver (compatible with Logitech Harmony)
Weight and Size
- Weight: 23 oz / 654 g
- Height: 1.0 in / 25 mm
- Width: 8.3 in / 210 mm
- Depth: 5.1 in / 130 mm
- Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) powered by Android TV and Google Cast
The Nvidia Shield TV is an official Android TV device running the Android TV operating system. Android TV is a great operating system that has come along way from its feature scarce past thanks you updates supporting additional streaming services and apps. While is doesn’t compare with the Roku ecosystem in terms of streaming services it offers, Android TV makes up for this by providing you with a solid system of high quality services. For the most part the average user will have no problem with the apps supported by Android TV however one service that is noticeably missing is Amazon Video. Fear not though as Android TV does support a range of popular services such as (just to name a few):
- Netflix (4k)
Apps such as BBC iPlayer are not available via the Google Play store however can be sideloaded. Any other missing services are generally available via an addon for Kodi.
The initial setup of the Nvidia was a straight forward process. Simply plug in the provided power supply, connect to the TV via HDMI and power the thing on. You are then guided through a simple setup wizard where you connect a Google account and setup internet connection etc.
All in all a pain free experience.
The Dashboard – Where the Magic Happens
Once the Nvidia Shield TV has booted up you are taken to the Android TV dashboard. This is where you access all of your apps as well as search functions and settings menus. At the top of the screen you are shown a list of recommended items based on your usage habits, for example, if you watch a lot of Netflix you will be presented with recommendations on what to watch on Netflix. This is a handy feature that helps with content discovery however if you do find it a bit annoying you can modify what is presented to you via the settings menu.
Underneath the recommended items section you will find all of your apps that you have installed from the Google Play Store or that you have side loaded. Using the controller you can scroll around and select the app that you wish to launch. Once in an app you can press the home button to return to the home screen.
I found Android TV to be the best launcher out there thanks to is ease of use but also for its sleek modern design. A lot of other media players out there just have an awful interface where I wonder what they were thinking when they designed it.
Local Media – Finally Someone Does it Right
We all love to sit back and stream TV Shows and Movies from services like Netflix and Hulu however a lot of us have locally hosted media files that we want to enjoy. Thankfully Nvidia got local media playback right.
The Nvidia Shield TV offers a range of options for local media playback thanks to access to the Google Play Store and its USB connectivity. Simple download the VLC media player app from the Google Play Store and plug in an external storage device into the USB slot and your good to go.
Need more than that? Not a problem! Install Kodi from the Google Play Store and connect it to either a local storage device or to your NAS (Network Attached Storage) and bam, your off and running.
What if you already have a media server running at home? Not a problem, run the Plex app and connect to your Plex media server.
The Nvidia Shield TV is a monster when it comes to media playback, something where many other media players fall short. It plays back pretty much everything you can throw at it.
GeForce Now and GameStream
GeForce Now is a cloud service provided by Nvidia for $8 a month that offers unlimited access to a selection of older games on the Nvidia Shield TV. It looks as though this might be a good option for those looking to get into gaming however I myself have not tried it yet as I do most of my gaming on the PC.
GameStream on the other hand is something that peaked my interest. IT allows you to stream games via your PC to the Nvidia Shield TV allowing you to play your PC games on your TV from the comfort of your couch. The beauty of this is that all of the heavy lifting is done by your computer. Playing games such as Fallout 4 was a pleasure with no lag or obvious issues. The picture quality was lower than on the PC but that is to be expected. GameStream is a great feature that brings high profile video game titles to the Nvidia Shield TV.
Where to Buy
Nvidia Shield TV can be purchased over at Amazon