We were lukewarm on the shield original TV when it debuted in 2015. The MicroConsole Android-based Nvidia was incredibly powerful, and the first 4K media streamer we tested, but it was also nearly as expensive as a game console dedicated. The current Shield TV costs just as much and has the same hardware, but Nvidia has had two years to develop its game functions and really separate them from the competition. In fact, he now has Google Assistant with support for hands-free voice commands if you have the shield controller. It is an expensive multimedia enthusiast, but players will find the features and processing power very intriguing.
Storage and design
The Shield TV is available in two versions, both of which have 16 GB of storage space (a Shield TV Pro with a larger capacity and a hard disk of 500 GB is no longer available). The $ 179.99 model features a simple remote control, while the $ 199.99 version includes remote control and joystick Shield Controller, which is required for voice control hands-free with the Google Assistant. The shield controller is only $ 59.99, so we recommend the $ 200 version of the Shield TV on the remote control without reservation.
Although the 11 GB available space after Android and pre-installed Nvidia apps are limited, you can add additional storage via the two USB ports on the device. If you want to play a lot of Android games with the 16GB model, it’s vital. We have a 2 TB Seagate Game Drive that works with Shield TV, and smaller (and cheaper) USB flash drives will work just as well.
The current TV Shield $ 199.99 Amazon shares the angular aesthetics of the original, but in a slightly smaller and more flat pack 0.5 with 6.0 with 3.7 inches (HBD). It is a box that is not completely rectangular with slightly uneven lines; the front and right panels are rectangular, the left and rear panels are trapezoidal and the rectangular top panel is covered with triangles. The top is usually matte black plastic with some angular lines of text, which surround a large shiny black triangle that is raised to show bright green light along the edge. The rear panel contains an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port and a connector for the included AC adapter.
Although designed to sit flat on a table, you can place the Shield TV vertically with an optional accessory of $ 20 vertical, just like the original.
Nvidia has radically changed the appearance of the wireless gamepad since the first Shield TV. The shield controller is much lighter at just nine ounces, with a pattern of triangles such as Tron etched into its matte black plastic body. The edges of the triangles are not sharp and the controller feels comfortable and pretty smooth in the hand.
Together with the hull covered with triangle, the controller has all the usual components: two analog sticks (parallel in a DualShock available), D-pad, four face buttons (A / B / X / Y, arranged in an Xbox format) and two pairs of shoulder buttons. A silver panel in the middle of the handle contains the Nvidia logo on a button that activates the voice search function and voice operation of the Shield, which is available via the pinhole microphone just above the button. The Back, Play and Home buttons are located on the bottom of the controller, under the analog joysticks. A 3.5 mm headphone jack is located on the bottom of the controller with the front down for the user. You can use a micro USB port on the top to charge the built-in battery or use the wired controller.
The microphone on the controller is probably the most important hardware change. It is designed to capture the voices when you are sitting on a table in front of you, enabling hands-free voice control with the Google Assistant, such as a Google Home speaker. All other new features of the Shield TV have been added to the original TV Shield for software and firmware updates, but for a handsfree voice control, you need to buy the Controller Controller Shield up to $ 60.
The original Shield TV offered the Shield Remote as an accessory for $ 50, but the new Shield TV includes an updated remote control directly in the box.
Given that the system has the same price as the previous version, it is a blessing that is quite important for its viability as a multimedia broadcaster.
The 5.6-inch remote control is slightly larger than the original, but is otherwise identical in design. It has a four-way direction button at the top, the Back and Start buttons below it, and a large button for searching voices below it. A pinhole microphone is near the top, although it is not designed for hands-free use, unlike the joystick microphone; you have to keep it at your mouth when you speak.
The Shield TV is running almost Android TV shares on Android 7.0 Nougat. The multiple Shield applications of the previous Shield TV are integrated into a single Nvidia Games app that tracks your games in the three categories Shield games from Nvidia (see below). Besides the Nvidia application, the interface is configured in a standard Android TV configuration, with applications and games that are included in their own rows of large tiles. All games you play on TV Shield will appear in the row of the Games, including whether they are broadcast locally on GameStream or Internet GeForce Now, with the Nvidia Games ever application on the side list links.
In terms of hardware, the current Shield TV is identical to the original, with the same Nvidia Tegra X1 APU. With Android TV we cannot run our standard Android benchmarks on Shield TV as if it were a smartphone or tablet, but we have implemented implementations of 3DMark and GFXBench GL to identify certain numbers. Shield TV scored 3,643 on the 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme test and outperformed all other available mobile devices, including the iPad Pro (3.526). The app even called the Shield TV “one of the most powerful devices available” based on the test results.
The Shield TV has also blasted all other Android water devices in GFX OpenGL, making 1,570 images in the most intensive Car Chase benchmark. The iPad Pro, however, defeated Shield TV in the heaviest benchmark in Manhattan and placed 2,075 images on the 1,574 Shield.
Android and the local game
Nvidia has built the Shield TV around three pillars: Android games with the Tegra X1 from Shield TV, local PC games with GameStream and streaming internet games with GeForce Now.
For native Android games, Shield TV is still one of the most powerful devices on the market. We played the Android version of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and the action went smoothly. I could do parades that required precise timing, and the gameplay seemed to stay close to 30 frames per second under most conditions. It is not as impressive as the PC version of Revengeance, which has higher resolution textures and can push a much larger number of flying enemy pieces into Blade mode, but it is still a great game to watch. on Android.
In addition to local Android games, you can stream PC games from your computer to your home network via Nvidia Gamestream. You need a solid gaming PC with an Nvidia GeForce graphics card. I released Metal Gear Rising Revengeance and Edge Shield Mirror’s on TV via Wi-Fi 5GHz network from our test lab, with the shield TV connected via Ethernet. Both games were fast and responsive, despite some performance problems on the PC. Seeing Revengeance broadcast from a PC also confirmed that the Android version makes some graphical compromises.
Finally, with NForCare you can now also play online streaming games on Nvidia’s own servers. This is a subscription service at $ 7.99 and similar to PlayStation Now GameFly Streaming, which launches offline games on Nvidia hardware and distributes video and audio on your device very little while receiving your orders. GeForce Now offers a library with more than 100 games and newer titles such as The Witcher 3 can be purchased ad hoc for sale prices.
Nvidia has updated its GeForce Now servers with the company’s Pascal architecture, which should improve the performance of the game view. Obviously, upgrades to the server can not resolve network bottlenecks, so you should check your bandwidth. Nvidia has also announced a partnership with Ubisoft to integrate the company’s UPlay store into GeForce Now. UPlay users who purchase PC versions of Ubisoft games can now play them on GeForce Now without having to purchase them separately, moving cloudback ups between platforms. You must always subscribe to GeForce Now to play these games, even if you already have them on your PC.
I played Shadow Warrior 2 on GeForce Now and it was a great experience. The game felt responsive and I did not experience any differences that had the first streaming game services. The video quality was pretty bad compared to Wi-Fi, even with the Shield TV just a few meters from the router, but with an Ethernet connection the game seemed very closed as if I had done it locally on a PC.
Shield TV was the first tested streaming multimedia device that can display 4K content and currently supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) video in HDR10 format (but not Dolby Vision). To use Dolby Vision, you need a Chromecast Ultra or an Apple TV 4K). The 4K media player market has grown rapidly, with different choices available for less than $ 100, but only a few are equally powerful or offer the same functions as Shield TV.
The Shield TV is just as powerful and complete as any Android TV device, with many streaming media applications, including Amazon, Crunchyroll, Hulu, Netflix and Sling. It also offers access to the full music and video store of Google Play. The Shield TV supports Google Cast, so you can stream video from your mobile device, just like a Google Chromecast Ultra device.
If you have a Shield TV, you do not need any other multimedia broadcasts. Of course, 4K compatible media streamers, such as the Roku Streaming Stick +, cost less than half the price; you pay a premium for extensive gaming functions more than any multimedia function, with the added benefit of hands-free voice commands with the Google Assistant.
A recent firmware update made full use of the Google Voice Assistant on the Shield TV possible. After the system and the controller have been updated, you can easily set up hands-free voice control via the joystick microphone by selecting the microphone icon at the top of the home screen and following the instructions.
After the Google Assistant is set up, you can treat the TV Shield as a Google Home app, with the added benefit of having on-screen information. If you say ‘Ok Google, how is it again?’ you get both an audible weather report and a visual representation of the weather and the predictions for the coming days. If you ask: “OK Google, how big is Jeff Goldblum?” you will both hear the answer and you will see it in the text (and in case you wonder, it is six feet four inches).
With Shield TV you can open applications with the Google Assistant. Just say “OK Google, open Netflix” will load the streaming application and “OK Google, open The Witness” will load the puzzle game. You can even ask the Shield TV to adjust the volume, but this only affects the output volume levels of the device; this does not affect the volume settings of the TV.
Google Assistant also supports home automation, with a list of smart devices that are compatible with Amazon. After I linked a Philips Hue account to my Google Assistant account, I was able to use the Shield TV to control the Hue lights connected with my voice by saying “Ok Google, Turn Off Office.” This is a very useful feature, especially with hands-free support from the shield controller. Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV also support smart home controls through Alexa and Siri voice assistants, but they are not hands-free; you have to press a button on a remote control and speak into it.
The shield controller caught my voice surprisingly well during the tests. Even with colleagues who spoke in the neighborhood, the Shield TV quickly distinguished my requests and provided accurate answers. He got confused when those same colleagues approached the system while I was testing and retrieving the words of an ongoing conversation at the same distance from the controller I was. However, when I did not try to speak to people sitting right next to the system, the hands-free voice commands worked very well.
If you do not want the shield controller to constantly listen to you for a wake-up command or if you only receive the Shield TV version remotely, you can still use the Google Assistant. It simply will not be hands-free and requires that you press the microphone button on the remote control and speak. And of course, you can manually switch off the hands-free voice assistant and use the shield controller.
We’ve looked at Shield TV for the first time with uncertainty, but the micro-console has grown enormously since its introduction and the addition of Google Assistant makes it even more appealing. Although the hardware is now about two years old, it is still one of the most powerful Android devices available in the field of games. These features are largely limited to the Android game library, but GeForce Now and GameStream offer an amazingly functional, compelling streaming game on a device that costs less than a Nintendo Switch. The Shield TV is not a multimedia trailer for users who just want to watch videos online, but for gamers who are looking for 4K streaming functions or a micro-console for a second TV or want to add functions to their TV. Google hands-free assistant at their home theatre, it’s a pretty impressive device.