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Hands-on review: NVIDIA Shield TV
Wed, 15th Apr 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

NVIDIA really hit the ball out of the park with their original Shield TV set-top box. Recently their Android TV range has had an upgrade, of sorts, now sporting two different Shield devices, the Shield TV and the Shield TV Pro.

We were sent a Shield TV unit to test out. Whilst the Pro version looks very much like the original Shield, the new standard version is cylindrical in shape with an HDMI port at one end and an ethernet port at the other. There's also a slot for a microSD Card.

This smaller form factor allows the device to be positioned out of the way rather than taking up TV cabinet real-estate. Unlike the Pro, the standard Shield doesn't have USB slots, so there really is no need to tamper with it once it is up and running. The device is Wi-Fi enabled, so even the Ethernet connection isn't required. It really can be left just dangling out of the back of the TV.

The standard Shield TV doesn't come with a game controller, making it more of a TV entertainment centre than an Android-based games console. The Pro version does come with a controller, but I didn't really miss it on the standard version.

The Shield is powered by a top-of-the-line Nvidia Tigra chip that makes the device very responsive. The nicely designed Shield remote control makes for a good replacement for your TV remote and gives access to the vast amount of entertainment that the device puts at your fingertips.

Being Android TV-based, the Shield has a vast library of apps that allow nigh-on instant access to all the top streaming content. There's Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ from the global players. Then you have YouTube, Twitch, Google Movies and TV. These are followed by region-specific streaming outfit (which for me, in Australia includes the likes of Stan, ABC iView, Foxtel and SBS On Demand).

You can also take charge of your own media via the Plex and Kodi apps. There are hundreds of apps from games to business tools that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store straight onto the Shield.

The easy-to-use menu allows you to quickly pick up a TV show, movie or game from where you left off, across any one of the installed applications. The menu can also be customised for easy access to commonly used content.

The Gamestream feature connects to the Nvidia Experience app on your PC to stream compatible games across your local network and onto your TV, via the Shield TV. Gamers wanting to use the Shield to stream their games collection from their PC to their 4K TV, may want to consider pairing a Bluetooth controller to the device.

If the TV is in the same area as your PC, you can still use your PC-connected gamepad to play. This gives gamers the opportunity to easily switch their gameplay from, say a 1440p 144mhz desktop monitor to a big-screen HDR 4K TV, which isn't bad at all.

Valve's own Steam Link app is available from the Google Play Store as well as a lot of other Shield-compatible games, some of which do not need a controller. You can also side-load software using APKs, if hacking around Android devices is your jam.

The device can also be used to stream from Nvidia's Games Now service, however, it's not yet available in this part of the world.

The Shield TV outputs at up to 4K resolution and with HDR. This means that you can enjoy content from streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+ in their full glory. For lower resolution content, the Shield TV can also upscale using AI algorithms to give images extra detail. By and large, it works. 1080p content does look better, but a grainy old movie still looks like a grainy old movie.

Nvidia's Shield TV is an excellent Android TV device. It offers all the entertainment options that you want from a streaming set-top box, but also integration with PC gamers' computer set-up to allow games to be streamed to the big screen in glorious 4K HDR.

The lack of a bundled controller is a bit of shame, but most of us have a compatible controller laying around, if needs be. The menus are fast and very responsive, allowing users to browse through their entertainment selection with ease.

Nvidia's Shield TV is easily a recommended Android TV solution, especially if you are a PC gamer and want to easily play your games on the lounge TV.