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Nvidia Shield TV review: the best Android TV box with brilliant AI upscaling - MW


New hide-away design, great remote, top performance and impressive HD to 4K upscaling make for a killer smart TV box

Nvidia Shield TV is a refined version of the best Android TV box in years, with impressive new AI-based upgrade technology and a new space-saving design.

The new Nvidia Shield TV is available in two versions: a media player at £ 149.99 and a Pro Pro alternative at £ 199 for more games.

For those unfamiliar with these types of multimedia streaming devices, they really add the Smart TV experience to older TVs or replace the horrible or obsolete smart elements of more modern sets. , so you can use apps like Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and Netflix.

Nvidia is arguably the biggest name for graphics and also makes mobile chips called Tegra, based on these two Android TV boxes. Shield was previously released in 2015 and, unlike many other smart TVs and streamers, is kept up to date with a constant stream of updates, making it a supported Android TV experience. Better, available on TV or in a decoder.


The new Shield TV is not cluttered with formulas. You get one of the most powerful media streaming boxes available, run the latest version of Android TV, and support similar software for the long term.

User-centric design
What’s new is the form factor. The standard Shield TV is not a box but a small tube with a power cable and ethernet socket in one end and an HDMI socket and microSD card slot in the other. The idea is you hide this small tube behind your TV in series with the cable without taking up any significant space.

The remote too has been rethought. Instead of being a thin, touch-sensitive remote, the new version has a triangular profile, takes two standard AAA batteries including rechargeables, has a good weight to it and an assortment of buttons that are backlit when the remote is picked up, including dedicated pause and volume buttons.

The shape may seem odd but it’s designed to prevent it slipping down the side or backs of sofas, and it works. A simple, user-friendly design.


The remote communicates with the Shield TV via Bluetooth and has an IR blaster in the end for controlling the volume on your TV, amp or soundbar. It works great.

Specifications

  • Processor: Nvidia Tegra X1+
  • RAM: 2 or 3GB
  • Storage: 8 or 16GB + microSD card
  • Connectivity: wifi ac, Bluetooth 5, gigabit ethernet, HDMI 2.0b (HDCP2.2), 2x USB 3.0 (Pro only)
  • Software: Android TV (Android 9 Pie)
  • Format support: up to 4K @ 60Hz, Dolby Vision, HDR10, Dolby Atmos, TrueHD and Digital Plus, DTS-X
  • Dimensions: 40mm diameter, 165mm length or 98 x 159 x 259.3mm
  • Weight: 137g or 250g

Android TV

Google TV The Android TV platform is a fairly simple system based on customizable applications and carousel layouts that highlight the content of certain applications. On Shield TV, it's quick and easy to navigate in a way that it normally doesn't on a smart TV.

Move around the simple interface with the home, back and up, down, left and right buttons in a circle around the selector. Holding the home button will appear for quick access to the list of apps, while double-clicking on the home will bring you to recently used apps like on a smartphone or tablet.


Holding the back button provides quick access to the settings menu, while the menu button at the top right can be customized to launch specific applications, settings or functions. There's even a dedicated Netflix button to access it directly.
One of the biggest advantages Android TV has compared to other systems built into TVs is the wide app support from most of the major UK and US streaming services. Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5 and Spotify are available, with the two notable exceptions being BT Sport (although BT TV is available) and the Apple TV app. Plex Media Server support is limited to the Pro model of Shield TV.
The apps are routinely updated too, meaning they continue to work, unlike some other platforms, which combined with Nvidia’s long support means you get a streaming box that should stand the test of time.
Alongside direct app support, the Shield TV has Chromecast 4K support built in, which means any app that can be cast from your Android or iPhone, tablet or even computer can be sent to your screen wirelessly, which includes BT Sport but not Apple TV.
Apps other than TV and video streaming services are also available, including Android games and Nvidia’s GeForce Now game-streaming service, which has both paid and free tiers of PC games and works surprisingly well. You’ll need a controller for games, and while Nvidia sells one, you can use any Xbox or PlayStation joypad that supports Bluetooth.

Google Assistant
Google Assistant is built into Android TV and works like interference between an Android phone and a smart screen like Nest Hub Max. Press and hold the microphone button on the remote control to speak to the assistant.

You can control playback in apps, such as play, pause, or skip to the next track in Spotify, or even at a specific time in a song, movie, or TV show. You can launch applications, adjust the volume, or search for programs, movies, or music by voice. Ask the wizard to play Lost in Space and he will offer to play via Netflix or Google Play Movies.


After that, all the standard functions of the wizard. Ask him how to get to work and he will give you the current state of traffic or transport and a small map. Find out about the weather and you will receive forecasts by visual map. He'll answer questions, order smart home devices, live images from smart cameras and hundreds of other things. The only exception I found is the inability to search for images on the web.

Next-generation AI upscaling

The TV screen shield protection tool is Nvidia's new AI upgrade technology, which takes HD content and turns it into 4K with impressive results. Despite the fact, every TV or set-top box can handle basic upgrade content - stretching HD content to fit a 4K screen with four times the pixels - Nvidia technology has been outdated. , especially when viewing very detailed scenes.

The cityscapes are incredibly crisp and detailed, while the faces, cars and even wildlife have been greatly improved, even compared to the base upgrade. It's really hard to provide it with a modern HD image and the difference between it and 4K content. He even does a good job dealing with something old like NCIS, Futurama or Knight Rider.

Just compare something like the faces of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys in 4K that match the AI ​​AI upgrade, you can start to detect differences in close-ups or when photos The original image was slightly grainy in low light.

Observations


  • You can play music in the background from Spotify or similar while doing other things.
  • The Shield TV can be controlled through Alexa on an Echo smart speaker via the Nvidia Shield TV skill.
  • The Shield TV comes with a two-year warranty, but Nvidia doesn’t currently offer a repair, recycling or trade-in programme, ultimately making it disposable.

Price
The Nvidia Shield TV costs £149.99 while the Shield TV Pro costs £199. The optional Shield Controller costs £59.99.

For comparison, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K costs £49.99, Fire TV Cube costs £109.99, the Google Chromecast Ultra costs £69 and the Apple TV 4K costs £179.

Verdict
The original Nvidia Shield has long been the power user’s Android TV streaming box of choice, and realistically the only one I could recommend. But with its redesign as a hide-away tube and with a new, much more user-friendly and smartly designed remote, the new Shield TV is not only the best streaming box for power users, but one of the very best for regular people too – right up there with the Apple TV 4K and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.

On most fronts it beats or matches everything else, be it support for the latest Dolby Atmos, Vision and HDR standards, app support or even the built-in 4K Chromecast support. But it is the impressive AI upscaling that is the killer feature. If you predominantly watch HD content from Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play or BBC iPlayer et al on your 4K TV then the Shield TV is the box to buy.

The only fly in the ointment is a lack of the Apple TV or BT Sport apps in the Google Play Store on Android TV, but at least the latter can be Chromecast to the Shield TV from your phone or tablet. Only the Apple TV 4K has a wider selection of apps than available on Android TV.

The Shield TV isn’t cheap, coming in at £150, but it’s fast and feature-packed, will be supported for a long time and has one of the best remotes you can buy.

Pros: AI upgrade, Android TV, fast, no bloat, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, long-term support, space-saving design, great remote control, built-in 4K Chromecast, Google Assistant, GeForce Now

Cons: quite expensive, no BT Sport app or Apple TV

MW

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