Living room devices are constantly getting smaller in physical size, yet increasing in the number of features installed to make them the only piece of technology you'll need in the living room (other than your TV). Nvidia believes this is an ongoing "battle for the living room," where companies are trying to provide even more than their competitors to make their devices stand out. At Google I/O, Nvidia finally released its Shield Android TV device.
Shield was first introduced at GDC earlier this year, with a heavy focus on gaming. However, Shield is also an Android TV device and features multiple entertainment apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Sling TV. More apps are on their way soon, including HBO's standalone app, HBO Now. Users can also buy and rent movies through Google's Video and Music app.
|Operating System||Android TV|
|CPU/GPU||Tegra X1 (8-core, 64-bit ARM CPU; 256-core Maxwell GPU)|
|Storage||16 GB, 500 GB|
|Network||802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, Gigabit Ethernet|
|I/O||HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 2.2), Micro USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, MicroSD slot|
Shield also has the ability to play movies and shows in 4K. Apps like Netflix already have a few titles available in 4K resolution. However, Netflix requires a constant 25 Mbps (opens in new tab) download speed in order to display in the higher resolution. The device's gigabit Ethernet port is a big plus in this regard, so users with more than enough bandwidth shouldn't have any streaming issues.
Thanks to the Android system, Shield has access to titles on Google Play as well as Nvidia's own lineup of streaming titles through GRID. The company requires a minimum of 10 Mbps for games streaming at 720p and 60 frames per second, and 30 Mbps for 1080p and 60 frames per second. Right now the service is free until the end of June, after which players will have to pay a premium to access 1080p streaming.
With today's announcement at Google I/O, Shield is now available in the U.S. in 16 GB and 500 GB models (we know, odd, right?) priced at $199 and $299, respectively. Customers in Europe won't be able to get their hands on Shield until the holidays. The package already comes with a Shield controller, but you can buy another one for $59. Other add-ons include a stand for the device that costs $29, and a non-gaming remote for $49.
With Nvidia throwing its hat into the living room system arena, it will be interesting to see how the company utilizes Google's Android system against competitors such as the Apple TV or Amazon's Fire TV. Fortunately, we have a review of Shield coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled for our take on Nvidia's latest creation.
Update, 5/29/2015, 10:05pm PDT: We were mistaken about the storage size for the second Shield model. We've changed the text accordingly.