The NVIDIA Shield TV 2 that was announced earlier this month at CES 2017 in Las Vegas is already available on Amazon.
At this price, it definitely isn’t the cheapest streaming box that you can buy, but it’s arguably the best.
NVIDIA Shield TV 2 Hardware
It’s a bit odd that NVIDIA decided to keep the same hardware we saw on 2015’s SHIELD TV, but it’s still a powerful chip by today’s standards.
Instead, the unit was shrunk and refined, keeping the same overall look. This means it’s lighter and it has a smaller footprint – ideal for tight setups –, but it does have some drawbacks, like the lack of the microSD card slot or the micro-USB port for a direct connection to your computer.
On the bright side, the new Shield comes with a redesigned controller which is miles better than the original. It’s slimmer and the polygonal aspect fits with the angular design philosophy of the streaming box. Current Shield TV owners can buy the new controller separately for $59.99 on Amazon.
As a bonus, the Shield TV 2 now includes the remote, which was previously $50 on its own. The remote has also been tweaked. The new version drops the headphone jack and the rechargeable battery, and it switches to a matte finish instead of brushed metal.
NVIDIA Shield TV 2 Software
Running Android 7.0 (Nougat), the Shield TV 2 support 4K and HDR out of the box, hence it’s an impressive choice for gamers and streamers focused on the best picture quality they can get.
While the Shield has always let you stream games from PC to TV assuming you have a compatible GeForce video card, it now has the Steam app installed on the unit by default. And let’s not forget about GeForce Now, NVIDIA’s own subscription PC game streaming service, which works pretty darn well if you have a good internet connection.
But what’s more important is that the NVIDIA Games interface got an update. Now you will find all your games in one place, regardless if they are PC, Android, or Shield titles.
Since NVIDIA Shield TV 2 is a streaming device, it’s no surprise that you can use services like Netflix and Hulu. However, there is also an Amazon Prime Video app, which is noteworthy considering Amazon is at war with both Google and Apple.
NVIDIA wants the SHIELD TV to be used as a smart home hub, and for that they integrated the Google Assistant as seen on the Pixel phones. Using it you can not only control your media library, but your lights or thermostat as well.
To complement that, the company announced the Spot, a small gizmo featuring a mic and a speaker, which can be plugged in any room of your house to issue voice commands at the Google Assistant – this looks an awful lot like Google Home and Amazon Echo.
However, this is theory for now, because the Google Assistant is a feature that will be available later this year.
What is the SHIELD PRO?
Earlier we mentioned that there is a Shield PRO version, which retains the design of the previous model – i.e. it’s bigger and heavier than the standard SHIELD TV 2.
The main difference is the storage capacity. While the standard version comes with 16GB of internal storage, the Shield PRO boasts a 500GB hard drive. This is ideal if you have much local media or you want to install many games, but pretty much useless if you plan to stream the content.
While all new Shield Android TVs come with the new Shield Controller, only the standard box comes with the new remote; NVIDIA decided to keep the original TV remote for the new Shield Pro.
Apart from that, the Pro model keeps the microSD card slot and the micro-USB port that were lost on the smaller body of the standard model. An even nicer addition is the inclusion of an IR port, which means you can use other universal remotes.
To Buy or Not to Buy
If you have an original Shield TV device, fear not, NVIDIA plans a system update that allows users to get most or all of the same functionality. This means you are not required to update right now to the newer version.
Although is dubbed “The Streamer for Gamers”, the NVIDIA Shield 4K HDR Android TV is not that cheap, so if you care about the games only, then you might want to take another look at the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One S; you will definitely find a deal or bundle that will suit your needs.
What do you think about the new Shield TV? Are you excited? Drop a comment below.