NVIDIA SHIELD TV 2019 Review: AI Enhanced Android TV Streaming
NVIDIA SHIELD TV (2019): More Powerful, Higher Quality Media Streaming
The NVIDIA SHIELD TV is widely regarded as the best media streaming device on the market. In addition to offering high-performance, access to a massive repository of 4K streaming services and apps, and leading-edge features that some competitors have only just recently caught up with, the SHIELD TV gives users access to GeForce NOW and game streaming capabilities from a GeForce-enabled PC. There is a growing library of native AAA Android games too, along with a myriad of casual games as well. And that's not to mention the huge community of enthusiasts that use the SHIELD TV to emulate a multitude of consoles and retro arcade machines from yesteryear.
Whether using it right out of the box or side-loading it with emulators and ROM files, NVIDIA SHIELD TV is miles ahead of a simple Roku stick, and today the company is refreshing the line-up toady with a pair of new SHIELD devices. Featuring more powerful hardware and additional features – like Ai Upscaling and Dolby Vision support – to improve image and audio quality, as well as the user experience as whole, the new NVIDIA SHIELD TV also aims to get out of the way with a sleeker profile.
We’ve got the new SHIELD TV for 2019 on hand for testing here; it’s features a cylindrical form factor that’s meant to be hidden away in your home theater (or the mess of cables stashed behind your TV). But there is also a new SHIELD TV Pro arriving today that has the same angular design of the original models.
SHIELD TV Gets A Performance And Feature BoostThe new SHIELD TV is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1+ processor with 256-core GPU. It’s essentially a faster, more power efficient version of the Tegra X1, similar to the updated chip used in the recently-refreshed Nintendo Switch. Alongside the new SHIELD TV, NVIDIA is also introducing a totally redesigned remote control. Unlike the sleek, super-thin previous-gen SHIELD Remote that featured only the directional control-pad and touch-sensitive volume slider, the new SHIELD Remote has many more dedicated buttons, motion-activated back-lighting, and a triangular design.
At first blush, it seems NVIDIA just wanted to use as many new shapes as possible here – cylinders, circles, triangles, rectangles, etc. – but the company made some intelligent choices as well.
SHIELD TV Pro is meant to reside, front-and-center in a home entertainment system, but the cylindrical SHIELD TV is meant to be stashed away, and out of sight, and not stuffed right behind a TV. Many media streamers are basically dongles that stick out from the HDMI ports right on the TV. But that position isn’t always ideal for peak Wi-Fi performance, so NVIDIA went with this design that can be laid down on the floor or positioned anywhere “in-line” with the power cord and HDMI cable.
NVIDIA SHIELD TV is about the size of a typical flashlight and is a few inches in circumference. The entire surface is a textured, matte black, with the NVIDA logo embossed at one end and a circular accent at the other. Each end of the device is vented, because the Tegra X1+ processor inside is actually actively cooled. That may be a concern for some of you, but rest assured you cannot hear the cooling fan. Even with your ear right up against the device, it is extremely quiet.
One end of the SHIELD TV houses the power and Ethernet jacks and the other has a reset button, HDMI power, and micro-SD card slot.
The New SHIELD Remote Is A Major UpgradeSave for the directional control-pad, select, back, home, and voice buttons, the new SHIELD Remote is a complete departure from the previous-gen. There are now dedicated Netflix, play/pause, fast forward, rewind, settings, and power buttons. The remote also uses standard AAA batteries now, which will last upwards of 6 months according to NVIDIA. And it has an IR blaster built-in as well, for controlling TVs that don’t behave well with HDMI-CEC.
The new remote also features motion-activated backlighting; pick up or move the remote at all and the buttons light right up. The new triangular design also fits the hand quite well, in our opinion. The triangular design also allows the buttons to be angled toward the used then the remote is laid down on the couch or a table beside them, and because it’s somewhat thicker, it’s far less likely to slip between the cushions and disappear like the current, slim model. If you were to lose it though, there is now a “Find my remote” feature on the SHIELD TV. Use the companion SHIELD TV Android app (or even your Google Assistant or Alexa if you integrate the SHIELD with them) and ask it to find your remote and it’ll immediately start beeping.
We should also mention that companion SHIELD TV Android app is getting updated with the introduction of these new devices. The app can basically be used as a remote and has new modes for easier navigation and launching of app, plus that new find function.
Beyond these new features, the software experience is largely unchanged from the previous-gen SHIELD TV devices. If you’re unfamiliar with them, we’d suggest checking out our previous reviews. The new SHIELD TVs, however, gain Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support, across a range of applications, including Disney+ when it gets introduced next month. The Google Play store for Android TV is also being updated for a more modern look, with easier navigation and better search tools for finding apps.
That said, as great as it is to have Dolby Vision and Atmos support, one of the killer new features of the new SHIELD TVs is AI Upscaling. You have to check this out...