Four months after its release, Nvidia's Shield Android TV device continues to get more updates in the form of more apps, 4K gaming, and a new game streaming service.
Nvidia's living room box continues to bolster its catalog of entertainment apps in an effort to keep ahead of consumer demands as well as staying on top of the competition. This includes a list of current and upcoming apps including Twitch and the WWE Network, HBO Now, and Showtime Anytime.
Nvidia is also increasing the number of Android gaming apps as well. However, to go along with the device's ability to display certain videos and movies in 4K resolution, a few Android games will be playable in 4K. At the moment, the company will start with 10 to 12 games in 4K, with more coming in the future. It's important to note that even though the select games will get a 4K upgrade, it might not look as clear as players would expect. Certain assets within the game won't look better because it's up to the developer to change those elements to suit the higher resolution. Still, expect to see less jagged edges on objects as more pixels are used to create each image.
Goodbye GRID, Hello GeForce Now
For the past two years, a few Nvidia fans were beta-testing GRID, the company's game streaming service. When the Shield Android TV device came out, GRID was one of the main attractions, and Nvidia had plans to turn the free service into a subscription-based program at some point. However, GRID is now phased as a new service will take its place, titled GeForce Now.
The change is instantaneous. Those who were using GRID before will notice that it's gone from the home screen. In its place is the GeForce hub. Nvidia said that on the streaming side, the biggest change is in latency. The company's overall goal with the new service is instantaneous content, with games starting in less than 30 seconds. The servers utilize Kepler-based GeForce GTX GPUs alongside various GameWorks elements such as ShadowWorks and PhysX.
The most obvious change is in the UI. The various games are now placed in various categories so you can easily browse a certain franchise or genre. In addition, you can utilize the Shield remote and issue voice commands to find a certain game on the list.
At the moment, there are over 50 games available on GeForce Now with more titles on the way. Nvidia said it would be approaching the service in a similar fashion to Netflix, in that certain titles will have an expiration date. The new UI also helps in that regard, because it will give players a heads-up as to when the game will make its exit from the catalog.
Most of the games listed will be playable at 1080p and 60fps. However, some games will be limited to 720p. Either way, you will need decent bandwidth to ensure smooth gameplay. Nvidia recommends 50 Mbps for 1080p and 60fps, and 20 Mbps for 720p and 60fps. At the very least, users should have at least 12 Mbps for a stable connection.
There's also a new option to buy and stream a group of games, each with its own price. Most of the purchased games will also include a code for a PC version of the game. At launch, 10 games will be available for immediate purchase, with more titles slated to join the group. Just like its Steam counterparts, the games will also be available for purchase on their launch date. For now, it's a varying selection of games, but eventually this premium list will include the latest and most popular games.
The final change from GRID is that GeForce Now will be a paid service of $7.99 a month, but Nvidia is willing to give customers three months free, starting on October 1, to see if they want to keep using it before the payment cycle begins.
Sooner Than You Think
Nvidia continues its partnership with Google as Shield will make its Google Fiber store debut in Provo, Utah; Kansas City, Missouri; and Austin, Texas on October 1. On the same date, the device will make its European debut specifically in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.
The timing is just right for Nvidia, as it's about to face stiff competition from Apple, with its new Apple TV, as well as other competitors. It already has a large customer base with its GPUs, but it's trying to capture an even greater audience in the living room on both the entertainment and gaming fronts.
Update, 9/30/2015, 9:15 pm PDT: Nvidia clarified that the $7.99 per month subscription for GeForce Now doesn't cover the list of streaming games available for purchase.