NVIDIA SHIELD TV, Google Assistant And Samsung SmartThings Form A Powerful Smart Home Trio

NVIDIA SHIELD TV, Google Assistant And Samsung SmartThings Link Hands-On

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If you're a frequent reader of HotHardware, then you're well aware that we've been quite impressed with the NVIDIA SHIELD TV. Not only is the pint-sized device a competent Android gaming console, but it also serves as an Android TV hub, a media streamer (for services like Netflix and Hulu), and can even function as a Plex Media Server. Finally, it can serve all this gaming and video content with the help of Google Assistant to search and provide key information all via voice command.

Today, NVIDIA SHIELD TV is also gaining the ability to be the focal point for your smart home efforts now, thanks to new compatibility with the Samsung SmartThings ecosystem. The support isn't integrated directly into the SHIELD TV hardware, however. Instead, Samsung has introduced what it calls the SmartThings Link, which is a USB dongle that plugs directly into a SHIELD TV spare USB port. With it, you don't have to go out and purchase a separate, standalone SmartThings Hub that plugs into your home router.

With the SmartThings Link, you have access to over 200 "Works with SmartThings" smart home devices, along with other smart products that take advantage of the Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. And since the SHIELD TV has the full power of the Google Assistant, you can also control compatible devices with your voice using the SHIELD Remote or SHIELD Wireless Controller.

Installation and Configuration

Since we already have a SHIELD TV in-house, NVIDIA sent over two Sengled smart LED bulbs and a Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor to get a feel for how the devices mesh together in the real world. The first step was to download the Samsung SmartThings app from Google Play to install on the SHIELD TV.

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With the app installed, next came time to plug the SmartThings Link into a free USB port on the back of the SHIELD TV. We should note, however, that the SmartThings Link dongle itself is rather wide, which is why we're thankful that Samsung includes a lengthy USB extension cable to help free up room on the back of the SHIELD TV. From there, we were able to login to the SmartThings service using a Samsung account, and we were up and running with the SHIELD TV operating as a fully functioning SmartThings Hub.
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Next came the step of downloading the SmartThings app for iOS, which was installed onto an iPhone (there's also, of course, an Android app). Using the app, we were able to add both Sengled LED bulbs and the Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor.

“OK Google, Turn On Bedroom Lights”

With everything setup, controlling the devices was as simple as saying "OK Google" followed by "Turn of/off" the lights, or any other command that might be appropriate for other device types. Voice control of smart devices can be handled either by the SHIELD TV or your smartphone (with the Google Home app installed). Controlling the devices by voice went off without a hitch, although we did run into a couple of occasions when our SHIELD TV would mysteriously lose its Wi-Fi connection, thus shutting down the whole operation. However, the SmartThings iOS app is kind enough to send you a push notification if your SHIELD TV’s connection is down, allowing you to pinpoint the problem.

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The SmartThings Motion Sensor not only alerted us to activity within any given room, but it also provides a temperature readout as well. Using the temperature setting, you could setup activities to turn on/off a ceiling fan, for example, once a certain temperature threshold is reached. You could also, of course, have the sensor turn on the lights as someone walks into a room, or send an alert if a child enters in an off-limits area of the house.

Since SmartThings devices are also compatible with Amazon Alexa, we were able to install the Samsung SmartThings skill and control our devices using an Echo Dot. Given the Google-centric nature of the SHIELD TV, we don’t know if this functionality would appeal to many, but it’s there if you need it.

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The Samsung SmartThings Link is currently available as a standalone purchase from SmartThings.com for $39.99. SHIELD Rewards members, however, can grab the SmartThings Link for $14.49 shipped or get a combo kit with a SmartThings Link, SmartThings Motion Sensor and two dimmable Sengled Element Classic LED Bulbs for $49.99 shipped.

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