Nvidia presented the second generation of Nvidia Shield TV, two years after the launch of the first version we reviewed here (which arrived in Italy only last summer). The 2017 model does not renew the SoC, which remains the tested and still powerful 64-bit Tegra X1 with Maxwell GPU integrated in the 256-core die, still able to stand out in terms of performance and features on the set-tops of the competition.
The previous version was able to display an output resolution at 4K and 60fps, thanks also to the HDMI 2.0 connection (now updated to version 2.0b). A GPU therefore already remarkably capable, further enriched through a software update of HDR support (up to 4K) at 10-bit and 12-bit, as well as the ability to decode the most popular digital video streams via hardware, such as H.265 / HEVC, VP8, VP9 and H.264.
Also in its 2017 version the Nvidia Shield TV is offered in two variants: Standard, with integrated 16GB eMMC memory and price of € 229, and Pro with 500GB hard disk memory and price increased by € 100. The 16GB of the standard version may now be tight (even if Nvidia pushes hard on streaming with this new version), but the storage space can still be expanded via two USB 3.0 ports that support pendrive and external hard drives. The Pro version is sold in Italy for € 329, and in addition to the greater amount of internal storage it adds a slot for MicroSD. Both versions include the Shield Controller and Shield Remote in the package.
An overhead view of Nvidia’s new Android set-top.
Shield TV 2017 has been renewed from an aesthetic point of view, since the dimensions of the chassis have been significantly reduced as well as the weight. It weighs just 250 grams and measures just 98 x 159 x 25 mm, and practically can be held in the palm of one hand. It is less compact than competing devices such as Roku or Chromecast, but still has very small dimensions for the mini-pc features it offers.
The Shield Controller and Shield Remote accessories have also been revised in shape and features. The gamepad is now smaller, tapered and ergonomic, and has been stripped of the features that were rarely used in the first iteration. Instead of WiFi technology, it now works via Bluetooth protocol, and battery life goes up to 60 hours. Removed the touchpad to make way for a more ergonomic grip, and the touch keys have been replaced by physical keys. Volume is adjusted with a touch button, and there’s a built-in microphone with which you can wake up the console via Google Assistant controls.
Finally, there is also a fully programmable IR sensor to control your TV or your Home Theater receiver. The remote control has almost the same shape and the same buttons, but now has an internal battery with a duration of 12 months. The two accessories are now pre-paired, saving the user from going through an extra step in the setup.
But the novelties of the new Shield TV reside above all in the software, which is now undoubtedly more mature, stable, functional and full of new features. First, the operating system is updated to the latest version of Android 7.0 Nougat. The new version of the Nvidia multimedia platform aims to become the true technological center not only of our living room, but also of our home. Thanks to the support for Google Assistant technology (present on the brand new Google Pixel and still on a few other devices), Nvidia Shield TV is set in “always listening” mode to pick up our commands. And thanks to special microphones called Nvidia SPOT (to be connected directly to the mains) that act as repeaters, we will be able to communicate vocally with Shield from all over our home.
The new Shield TV offers content support up to 4K at 60fps High Dynamic Range (HDR) with the main streaming services and video apps, such as Netflix, Google Play Movies, Vimeo, Amazon Prime Video, Kodi, Plex, VLC, MX Player, YouTube (the latter app with 360 ° video support, voice search and the new UI) and many others.
The new Shield Experience also introduces news for players. Nvidia Gamestream has been entirely redesigned to deliver higher quality and even lower latency. Shield is now capable of streaming 4K and HDR resolution games from your computer equipped with a GeForce GTX video card (at least a GTX 650 is required), as well as supporting UWP games such as Minecraft, Forza and Gears of War 4.
A side view of the new model and the previous one, with a look at all the input and output connections.
And the GeForce NOW service, already launched with the previous version, is constantly expanding with more than twenty Ubisoft titles including the recent Watch Dogs 2, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, FarCry Primal, The Division and For Honor, but also multiplayer titles online like WarThunder and Paragon, for a catalog that now contains a total of more than 125 games to be played in streaming on the cloud. With GeForce Now you will have access to high-end gaming PCs equipped with powerful Nvidia Pascal GTX 1080 GPUs, for maximum performance and smooth gameplay at 60fps.
With this new 2017 version, Nvidia Shield TV expands and enhances what the previous model offered, proposing itself as the best multimedia center for streaming and Ultra HD and HDR gaming. The software is now more mature, richer in features and apps, with an open door to the future thanks to support for Google Assistant and Nvidia Spot. Even the standard € 229 model now includes the controller and remote in the package, so you are ready for action and enjoying your favorite content directly from your sofa.
But Nvidia has also thought about the owners of the previous model, releasing the SHIELD Experience Upgrade 5.0 also for the owners of the previous version of SHIELD TV, which adds new software features of the 2017 version, including support for 4K60p HDR, and updates the operating system to Android 7.0 Nougat.