by Swapnil Bhartiya

Should you buy the new Nvidia Shield TV?

Jan 18, 2017
AndroidConsumer Electronics

The new TV brings Google Assistant and Amazon Videos to the platform.

Nvidia announced a new version of Nvidia Shield TV at CES in Las Vegas, and the device went on sale last week. I already own the first generation of Nvidia Shield TV and I love it. Do you already own a Nvidia Shield TV? If yes, should you upgrade it? If you don’t own one, should you purchase one? I will try to answer those questions for you.

Nvidia Shield: the best Android TV

If you are a cord cutter, and an Android user, then Nvidia Shield TV (find it on Amazon) is the best Android TV experience you can get. In addition to Google Play Movies, TV Shows, Google Music and YouTube, you get access to services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, PlayStation Vue and even Amazon Videos. According to Nvidia, Shield is actually the first Android TV streaming box to have the official Amazon Video app in 4K HDR.

Nvidia phone Google Home

Nvidia Shield TV is going to be the first device after Google Home (find it in the Google Store) to get built in Google Assistant, the best virtual assistant out there. A software update will also bring Google Home to the 1st generation Nvidia TV, which means you get Google Home built into the device. That alone is pure awesome. While you can’t connect Google Home to an HDMI TV or to external speakers, Shield can do both.

Emerging gaming platform

Initially, I was super excited about Nvidia Shield TV as a powerful gaming console that may be a serious challenger to Xbox or PlayStation. Nvidia Shield is a very powerful device that shares the same chip architecture used in Nvidia’s high-end GPUs. But I still can’t play Titanfall 2, Division, Fallout 4, Infinite Warfare or any such game on my Shield TV. I don’t blame it on Nvidia, Android doesn’t create any incentive for the gaming industry to port their games to the platform. I doubt that’s going to change anytime soon.

While I am not optimistic about native gaming, I see immense potential in Nvidia’s streaming service called Geforce Now, which competes with PlayStation Now and Xbox Live. I call it the Netflix of gaming. Nvidia has yet to make deals with some big names in the gaming industry so that I can play Call of Duty, Bioshock, and Fallout online.

You can already stream high-end PC games to your Shield TV locally using the Gamestream technology. All you need a supported Nvidia GPU running on your gaming PC.

Nvidia is also bringing its game streaming service to Mac and PC, which gives me another reason to invest in the platform.

No need to upgrade

If you already own the first generation Nvidia Shield TV, there is no need to upgrade to the latest device. Both devices run on Tegra X1 chips and come with 3GB or RAM. The only difference, from a hardware perspective, is that the new version doesn’t come with a Micro SD slot, but there are two USB ports. It’s not a deal breaker as I use a 1TB external hard drive with my Shield TV for storing games, movies and music. Another notable difference is that the new Game Controller is less bulky and more pleasant to use than the older one. What it means is that once you invest in a Shield device, it has a long shelf life.

But won’t you miss new features?

It’s Nvidia, not Apple. Ok, that was a cheap shot, but it’s true. Unlike Apple or Google, Nvidia is not restricting new features to the newer device. Amazon Videos and Google Assistant are the killer features of the new Shield TV and both services are coming to the existing Nvidia Shield platform via software update. So even if you are on an older Nvidia Shield, you won’t be deprived of newer features as this upgrade is more about software than hardware.

Should you buy one?

If you already have Nvidia Shield TV, there is no need to buy the new version. If you don’t already own it and want to get an Android TV, then Nvidia Shield is the best option out there. At $199, it’s a good bargain.