NVIDIA SHIELD TV (2017) Review: Smart Home, 4K HDR, And Game Streaming

A Hands-On Look At NVIDIA's Updated SHIELD TV

NVIDIA announced an updated SHIELD TV bundle back at the Consumer Electronics Show, which offers a host of new features thanks to some fresh hardware and an Android Nougat based OS upgrade. The updated SHIELD TV, however, isn’t totally new. Internally, the device was still packing NVIDIA’s Tegra X1 SoC like the original, which, even after a couple of years on the market, is still an exceptionally strong performer. The new SHIELD TV also has the same memory and base storage configurations, and the SHIELD Remote is similar too. However, NVIDIA significantly shrunk down the chassis by eliminating accommodations for an internal hard drive, and lopped the micro-SD expansion slot off the machine as well, though you still get USB 3 connectivity for storage expansion. NVIDIA did, however, also developed a new wireless controller for the SHIELD that offers exceptional battery life and – among other things – a built in near-field microphone to help leverage its Google Assistant integration that is also now a part of the NVIDIA SHIELD TV experience. New applications, including Amazon Video complete with 4K UHD HDR support, tons of games, and additional streaming capabilities have been brought to the platform as well.
shield kit
The new NVIDIA SHIELD TV, Wireless Remote, And Game Controller

Before we dive in and take a more intimate look at the new NVIDIA SHIELD TV, we put a quick video together of the device and its accessories in action. Kick back for a bit with the video below, to see how SHIELD TV handles 4K HDR content, Google Assistant, and gaming. Then, step through the rest of our coverage on the pages ahead to get better acquainted with what we believe is the best multimedia streaming device currently on the market…

Our video walk-through and live demo of NVIDIA's New SHIELD TV

Specifications & Features
Processor / RAM NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor with 256-core Maxwell GPU with 3GB RAM
Video Features 4K Ultra-HD HDR Ready with 4K playback and capture up to 60 fps (VP9, H265, H264)
Audio Features 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound pass through over HDMI

High-resolution audio playback up to 24-bit/192kHz over HDMI and USB

High-resolution audio upsample to 24-bit/192hHz over USB
Storage 16GB
Wireless 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi

Bluetooth 4.1/BLE
Interfaces Gigabit Ethernet

HDMI 2.0 

Two USB 3.0 (Type A)

IR Receiver (compatible with Logitech Harmony)
Gaming Features NVIDIA GeForce Now streaming service

NVIDIA GameStream
Weight and Size Weight: 23oz, H: 6.2in, W: 3.8in H: 1.0in/25mm
Starting @ $199

shield living room

As we mentioned, although this is technically a new SHIELD TV device, it is built around the same Tegra X1 SoC as the original. Just to quickly reiterate, the Tegra X1 is packing quad CPU cores and a 256-core Maxwell-based GPU. The on board video engine is capable of full 10-bit, 4K encode and decode at up to 60Hz, with 1080P 60 and HDR support as well. There is also 3GB of RAM installed in the SHIELD TV, along with 16GB of flash storage, which can now be expanded via USB -- the micro-SD card slot on the original is gone.
The new SHIELD TV is a smaller, sleeker device than the original. It still has angular lines across its lid, with a protruding, angular strip running along the top that lights up in green when powered on. Along the front, under the capacitive power button is an IR sensor, which is compatible with remotes like the Logitech Harmony.
shield back

Other features of the SHIELD TV include built-in Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, two USB ports, and an HDMI output. The USB ports serve double-duty for charging the wireless remote and controller (if you don’t plug them into chargers separately) and for storage expansion. Though 16GB has proven enough for numerous apps, the additional storage would come in handy for local media or side-loading apps, etc. The original SHIELD TV also had a micro-USB port for connecting to a PC and interfacing with the device, that’s not present on the newer model.
shield controller 2
Unlike the original SHIELD TV, which shipped only with a game pad, NVIDIA has completely fleshed out the new package, not only with an updated game pad, but the advanced SHIELD Remote as well. A new stand for the SHIELD TV was also released to accommodate its smaller chassis, but that remains an optional accessory.

We approve of NVIDIA’s decision to include both a game pad and remote with the SHIELD TV. The game pad is obviously ideal for gaming, but it’s a bit clumsy when navigating through applications and media because you have to engage with it with both hands. The SHIELD Remote, however, is super sleek, intuitive, and easy to use with one hand, so it's ideal when zipping through apps like NetFlix.
shield controller 1
The new SHIELD wireless controller has a familiar button layout, with the tried-and-true “A-B-X-Y”, trigger, and shoulder buttons, along with a D-pad and dual analog sticks. The controller also features up to 60 hours of battery life from a single charge, haptic feedback, headset jack, volume control, and a new textured enclosure with angled panels that mimic to the look of the SHIELD itself.

The new wireless controller also enables one of the new features of platform – the always on, Google Assistant. The controller features a built-in, near-field microphone, so as long as you’re in earshot, a quick “OK Google” will bring up the digital assistant so you can rattle off questions or commands. There are myriad of use cases for Google Assistant, from checking weather to controlling automated or smart devices in your home. 
remote 1a
The SHIELD Remote has a quartet of buttons and circular D-pad for simple navigation, a built-in mic for voice controls, and a capacitive volume slider running down the center. Unlike the original advanced remote, there is no 3.5mm headset jack at the bottom on the newer SHIELD remote. The remote isn't rechargeable either, but instead is powered by a pair of CR2032 lithium button batteries that are accessible from a tray at the base of the remote.

remote 2a

The Remote has a very high-quality feel and works very well. The buttons are responsive and the microphone picks-up casually-spoken voice commands easily without incident.

Related content