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    Nvidia Shield TV review: Go-to streamer for PC gamers and geeks

    Compared to the $50-ish Roku and Fire TV streamers of the world, the $150 Nvidia Shield has all the time been a comparatively area of interest proposition. When all you want is YouTube, Netflix and Disney Plus, it is overkill. Nonetheless it stays a preferred alternative for geeks and avid gamers who need extra extras and capabilities, together with 4K HDR (now with Dolby Vision), built-in Google Assistant and an array of gaming choices that makes Apple Arcade appear to be a one-trick pony, particularly for PC avid gamers.

    LikeCutting-edge streaming with 4K AI upscaling, Dolby VisionNative Android, cloud gaming and Steam Link optionsImproved Android TV interface with Google Assistant

    Don’t LikeExpensiveSome points understanding voice commandsSlower than Roku to launch Netflix

    In addition to the GeForce Now recreation streaming platform, Android video games retailer and GameStream potential for appropriate PCs, one other additional makes this system a head-turner for avid gamers: Steam. As the Steam Link now lives on in software program solely, the Shield TV is among the “cheapest” methods to get PC video games from Steam to your TV display. Yes, the Shield TV prices greater than most opponents, and the value is hard to justify for “just a streamer,” however as soon as once more geeks and avid gamers will discover loads of causes to splurge.Is it a cigar? Or a USB energy financial institution?
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    The newest Nvidia Shield TV is available in two variations: the the familiar-looking Pro model ($200) primary Shield TV reviewed right here. The Shield TV is probably the most covert system I can recall from the gaming firm. It’s roughly the scale and form of a runner’s baton; at 6.5 inches in size the all-black Shield TV is designed to be tucked behind your tv — and there is not even any lights to let you know it is on. If I have been a advertising and marketing man, I’d name this the “Shield Ghost” or the “Ninja” or one thing.

    The Shield TV comes with a complete of 4 ports, with two at every finish — one facet homes an ordinary energy socket (no adapter required) and Ethernet, whereas the opposite consists of an HDMI port and a microSD growth slot. There is a single reset button, however sadly, there is no room for USB. The finish of the 6.5-inch-long system options an HDMI port and a microSD card slot 
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    Unlike in earlier years there is no controller within the field, however you possibly can join appropriate PS4/Xbox One/PC controllers over Bluetooth.     As far as speeds and feeds are involved, this options an Nvidia Tegra X1+ processor with a 256-core Nvidia GPU and 2GB of RAM. It affords 4K compatibility with each Dolby Vision and HDR10 in addition to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X pass-through. The system can also be in a position to upscale streamed content material utilizing its proprietary AI upscaling.

    Here’s how the 2 new Shields examine with the earlier model from 2017.Nvidia Shields in contrast

    Shield TV (2019)

    Shield TV Pro (2019)

    Shield TV (2017)

    Price

    $150

    $200

    $200

    Shape

    Cylinder

    Box

    Box

    Processor

    Tegra X1+

    Tegra X1+

    Tegra X1

    RAM

    2GB

    3GB

    3GB

    Storage

    8GB

    16GB

    16GB

    USB 3.0 ports

    No

    2

    2

    Wi-Fi and Ethernet

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Android TV with Google Assistant

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Plex Media Server

    No

    Yes

    Yes

    4K HDR video

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Dolby Vision

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    Dolby Atmos

    Yes

    Yes

    Pass-through solely

    AI upscaling

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    Backlit distant with distant finder

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    Game controller

    Optional

    Optional

    Included

    Sarah Tew/CNET
    The distant that comes within the package deal is totally rebuilt from earlier than and includes a new, Toblerone-like triangular form. While on paper this sounds fairly horrible, it is truly fairly comfy to carry. The button array now consists of devoted quantity, settings and Netflix shortcuts. It’s a Bluetooth system and in addition comes with a distant finder (although it is menu-based and never a bodily button like on the Roku Ultra distant). If you might have an older Shield, you possibly can add the brand new distant for an additional $30. Having examined and used Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa gadgets for a number of years now I’m used to voice assistants getting issues improper, however sadly the tiny mic on the Shield TV distant is among the worst but. For occasion, if I requested for “Steam” — which most avid gamers would as customers of this system — every time the Shield heard me say “theme.” Also, my request for the opposite Nvidia characteristic “Gamestream” was hilariously misheard as “famous train.”Android TV: Google’s finest TV menus but
    Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury/CNET
    As a person of the Sony NSX-GT1 TV, I’ve seen Google’s TV working methods evolve fairly a bit. With the most recent 8.x model of Android TV, the Shield is probably the most user-friendly Google streaming system I’ve but skilled. The interface now focuses on content material — in an identical, however much less spammy technique to the Fire TV ($35 at Amazon) interface. Users do have some management over the person columns, in addition to the primary line of app shortcuts.Android TV is probably not on the high of thoughts for individuals who do not personal a latest Sony TV, for instance, however the system affords nearly each app obtainable, together with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify and Disney Plus. Back once we reviewed the 2017 Shield there have been fairly a couple of apps lacking, however this has since been addressed with massive ones like NHL, NBC and Amazon Music now obtainable. The MIA listing nonetheless consists of AT&T TV Now, Nick Jr., USA Now and Napster, nevertheless.The interface boasts a horny high-contrast look, and with some tweaking is straightforward to navigate. One annoyance of earlier Google interfaces — having to depart an app to regulate settings — is averted on the Shield TV with the devoted settings button and sidebar.  Shield TV, gaming and also youThe Shield consists of the beta GeForce Now app for streaming cloud video games (additionally obtainable on cellular gadgets, PCs or Macs) and the GameStream app for streaming from a Nvidia-toting gaming PC.  Then there’s the Steam Link app, which does not require an Nvidia graphics card.I nonetheless use the Steam Link field to stream video games from my PC and so was wanting ahead to seeing the corresponding Nvidia answer: an app working on the Shield. I spent a while establishing each Gamestream and GeForce Now and located them a lot much less person pleasant than Steam Link — as an example, I skilled quite a few system time-outs and needed to make a number of makes an attempt at creating person accounts — regardless of utilizing a wired connection. But after I lastly bought it working, the very first thing it did was recommend I play Steam video games!Even if the sport was listed as a GeForce Now title, the shortcuts stored directing me to the Steam retailer to purchase it. Once I lastly managed to search out one which was streaming — Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed — I discovered that the system functioned as if I have been a taking part in native recreation. It is probably not probably the most taxing recreation on the market, however the controls, utilizing an Xbox One joypad, have been responsive and I by no means skilled any gameplay lag. Using the ShieldLike lots of latest streaming packing containers, the Shield TV retains not too long ago used apps in its buffer reminiscence, so in case you solely use one streaming service, you will discover that it masses nearly instantaneously every time. When testing Netflix, for instance, if I closed and opened it once more, it loaded right away. To take a look at load occasions correctly I opened a unique program between every of the three totally different timing runs. As anticipated from a Google system, the Shield was in a position to load YouTube in a really fast 5.7 seconds, however its Netflix load time was one of many slowest I’ve seen in a devoted streamer. Streaming loading occasions

    Netflix

    YouTube

    Restart

    Roku Streaming Stick Plus

    2.92

    8.83

    38

    Roku Ultra 2019

    2

    7.21

    30.06

    Nvidia Shield TV

    8.19

    5.7

    58.79

    The interface performs in an identical technique to different streamers, even when the voice search would not all the time combine in addition to it ought to. For occasion, most apps have a search field however they do not routinely correspond with voice instructions initiated by way of the handset — in case you press the mic, the icon nonetheless seems as a separate search within the backside of the display. I additionally checked out the picture high quality of the varied apps, with explicit consideration on Nvidia’s AI upscaling characteristic. HDR content material from Netflix (Lost in Space) and Disney Plus (The Mandalorian) appeared as spectacular as I anticipated. The results of AI upscaling have been kind of noticeable relying on the content material, and I discovered it labored finest on YouTube clips. On a Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon clip, for instance, the constructing backdrop and microphone have been enhanced and the display made extra HDR-like with the AI settings enabled. These variations have been obvious from a standard 6-foot seating distance, whereas smaller enhancements similar to facial element have been solely seen from a distance of a few toes in its default Medium setting. I additionally seen some moire within the YouTube clip, however the AI engine did not clear this up or take care of some other video artifacts like compression. In different phrases, it is a delicate distinction and will not work miracles.Should you purchase it?The Shield TV is a really succesful streamer and it could additionally make an honest journey unit because of its moveable form and easy-to-find energy connector. Is it the last word gaming streamer? No, but it surely’s undoubtedly value a glance in case you’re a PC gamer. It’s enjoyable, it is compact and affords some distinctive picture high quality capabilities that set it aside from cheaper gadgets just like the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and the costly choices just like the Apple TV 4K.

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