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NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Review

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NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Conclusion:

The NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV is quite the device with a slew of additional gaming features that really sets it apart from its competitors. Sadly, it's bogged down by Google's too-new, too-cumbersome Android TV ecosystem. With no built-in web browser and a limited selection of non-gaming apps, I was left rather disappointed upon initially launching the device. While my disappointment falls largely on Google's shoulders, I feel like NVIDIA could have done a little more to improve the non-gaming aspect of the device.

That being said, NVIDIA's focus has always been gaming, and in that department the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV does not disappoint. While the touch interface and portability of the SHIELD Tablet makes it a superior device, the Android TV does cost $100 less and is bundled with a controller, providing another $60 value. If all you care about is gaming on your TV with all your video watching coming from Netflix, Hulu, or direct from Google, then the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV is perfect for you.

The other great feature that shouldn't be overlooked is the addition of two USB 3.0 ports, which can be used for external storage. Considering you can get 3TB-4TB external drives for close to $100, that means that unless you're tight for real estate, you don't really need the Pro model that comes with 500GB of internal storage compared to the regular's 16GB. That being said, if you truly want to take advantage of everything the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV has to offer, you'll need to connect a mouse, thus taking up one of the USB ports. Throw in a keyboard and suddenly you're only left with the microSD slot for additional storage.

I so very much wanted to award an Editor's Choice due to its gaming prowess that is unmatched by any other Android system out there, not to mention 4K support, but sadly I cannot overlook its non-gaming pitfalls. Until the Android TV ecosystem matures, it's hard to justify the purchase if gaming isn't your primary use, even with built-in Google Chromecast support, and certainly not if you do not have a wireless mouse to connect. If you're in the market for an Android TV device, the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV is hands down the one to get, but otherwise you may want to hold off a bit for Google's ecosystem to mature first. Unless, of course, you happen to already have a 4K TV, in which case, this should certainly be on your wishlist.

 

Pros:

  • Insanely powerful Tegra X1 processor
  • Comes bundled with a SHIELD Controller ($60 value)
  • NVIDIA GameStream (if your PC supports it)
  • NVIDIA GRID Cloud Gaming (if you have a strong Internet connection)
  • NVIDIA ShadowPlay with Twitch streaming support
  • Can increase storage via microSD cards and USB storage devices!
  • Keyboard and mouse support
  • Google Chromecast support
  • 4K support
  • NVIDIA has a proven track record of strong support for its SHIELD platform
  • Sleek design that looks modern and will blend in with any entertainment setup

 

Cons:

  • Android TV ecosystem still in its infancy (not even a built-in web browser)
  • Mouse required to enjoy full functionality
  • No bundled game with the standard version
  • NVIDIA GameStream requires a GeForce GTX-equipped PC
  • Dust and fingerprint magnet
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