NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV ReviewClayMeow -
Price: $199.99 16GB; $299.99 500GB
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NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Introduction:
When you have revenue topping a billion dollars, you can afford to take a few risks. That's exactly what NVIDIA did when it released the original SHIELD back in 2013. Fast forward to today and SHIELD has become a whole ecosystem. The original device, now referred to as SHIELD Portable, catered to hardcore PC gamers looking for a little more mobility than a laptop provides. The follow-up, the SHIELD Tablet, provided a more mainstream device and was the most powerful tablet available at the time. Continuing the trend of one new SHIELD device per year, this year we have the SHIELD Android TV.
The SHIELD Android TV is like a super-charged SHIELD Tablet without the screen. As the name implies, it runs Android OS and it connects to your TV. The retail edition ships with everything you need to get started: the unit, a game controller, a power cable, a USB cable, and an HDMI cable. There are also two optional accessories you can purchase separately: a remote and a stand. The fact that the retail bundle comes with a controller and not a remote should tell you exactly what crowd NVIDIA is catering to; although that shouldn't really be surprising.
So how does the SHIELD Android TV stack up against its brethren and the competition? Let's find out.
NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Closer Look:
NVIDIA opted to go with a white box this time around instead of the black used for the previous two SHIELD devices. I think the white should help it pop on the shelves compared to the black, and of course there are still the NVIDIA-green accents. What I would consider the front of the box is dominated by an image of the device itself, slightly raised and shiny. Below the product image is the word "SHIELD" in big black lettering, with the NVIDIA logo appearing below. On top is a green sticker that says "16 GB Android TV" in white, indicating which version is included.
Flipping the box over to the back presents us with a slew of information. The green sticker that we saw on the front wraps around the top and over to the back, with the back stating "SHIELD HAS IT ALL." The majority of the space is taken up by an image of a television showing off the Android TV interface featuring games and apps, with a SHIELD Controller below it. Above the TV, NVIDIA lists four key features: Android TV, Voice Search, 4K Movies and TV, and Games. Each one is given a brief description.
The right side of the box is where we get the juicy details, telling us "What's Inside." The first five items are bold and contain an icon: SHIELD, SHIELD Controller, HDMI Cable, 16GB Storage, and Tegra X1 Processor. Below that are the more technical specs: 256-core NVIDIA Processor; 64-bit CPU; 3GB RAM; Android TV; Google Cast Ready; HDMI 2.0; 4K Ultra HD with 10-bit color; MicroSD card slot for additional storage; 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi; Gigabit Ethernet; two USB 3.0 ports; one micro-USB 2.0 port; and Dolby 7.1 and 5.1 surround pass-through. Meanwhile, the left side of the box lists the optional "SHIELD Accessories," the SHIELD Remote and SHIELD Stand, along with all the barcodes and regulatory icons.
When you lift the lid off the box, secured by that giant green sticker and one more smaller clear sticker, you're immediately greeted by the SHIELD Android TV device. One of the things that impressed me with the previous two devices was their craftsmanship, and NVIDIA hasn't disappointed here, as well. Instead of a dull rectangular device, the NVIDIA Android TV has interesting angles and cuts, but is still slim enough and subtle enough to not be gaudy amongst a more sublime entertainment center setup.
Removing the unit and its holder, the rest of the included accessories can be found below in a plastic cradle broken up into three sections. The top left contains the SHIELD Controller, the top right contains an HDMI cable and USB cable, and the bottom contains the power brick and cable.
Before I unbox the optional accessories, let's take a closer look at the SHIELD Android TV device. As you can see, the device has a rather sleek design with the power button being a subtle capacitive-touch triangle containing the NVIDIA logo instead of your typical power button icon. You'll also notice a very generous supply of ports. From left to right: one MicroSD slot, one micro-USB 2.0 port, two USB3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, one HDMI 2.0 port, and the power cable port.