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Nvidia Shield Android TV Console Review

Today we take a look at the latest addition to Nvidia's Shield line of gaming devices. No mobility here, this new Shield is for the living room!

What’s In The Box?

The packaging for the $199 16GB Shield Android TV device includes just about everything you need to get started. In addition to the Shield, you get a hand-held Shield Controller, a power adapter, one HDMI cable, and a USB 3.0 cable that can be used for charging external devices or connecting the Shield to a computer for development or advanced configuration like side-loading apps.

For this review, Nvidia also provided us with two optional accessories; the Shield Stand and the Shield Remote.

The main Shield unit is 8.25 x 5.25 x ¾ inches in size and unit comes in at just under 1.5lbs. Except for the fan, there are no other moving parts inside the small case. Looks-wise, the Shield resembles something coming out from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D as the black exterior design of the case is comprised of triangular shapes formed into a rectangular object. Because of its thin shape, the Shield cannot stand upright by itself, so without the Shield Stand, the device will pretty much have to sit in a horizontal position.

The Shield is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra X1 mobile processor. Announced earlier this year, the Maxwell-powered Tegra X1 is the 20nm successor to the Tegra K1 SoC. Designed with mobile gaming in mind, the 256 CUDA core Tegra X1 boasts a memory clock of 1600MHz (LPDDR4), memory bandwidth that runs at 25.6GB/s, and 256KB of L2 cache.

The Shield also comes with 3GB of built-in system memory, 16GB of internal storage and an additional microSD slot that can support up to 2TB of additional microSD SDXC card storage.

For networking, the Shield covers both wired and wireless environments. For wired, the Shield can run at Gigabit Ethernet, a network speed that some of its 100Mbps speed competitors, like the Apple TV, Roku 3 and Fire TV, don’t have. For wireless, the Shield uses the current 802.11ac spec with 2x2 MIMO, which increases Wi-Fi throughput when connected to similarly configured router. Like most AC-class network adapters, the Shield is backward-compatible to earlier standards like 802.11n.

The Shield can be powered on by pressing its touch-sensitive, capacitive power button — shaped like the NVIDIA logo — on the “upper” part of its case cover. Next to the button is the IR receiver, which can be used by other IR controlling devices, such as a Logitech’s line of universal remote controls.

All of the Shield’s input ports lie along the device’s rear panel, including its microSD slot, a microUSB 2.0 port, two full-sized USB 3.0 ports, its Gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.0 port and the main input for the included 19V power adapter.

The included Shield Controller isn’t new. Originally paired with the Shield Tablet, the Controller somewhat resembles gaming console remotes of the past, and connects to the Shield wirelessly. Powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery, the Remote can be charged via its micro-USB port, delivering up to 40 hours of battery life. Alongside its familiar gaming button layout, the Controller also has a built-in microphone for in-game chat and voice search, and a stereo headset jack for personal listening.

The optional Shield Remote is the elegantly styled, lighter weight counterpart to the 0.75lb Controller — about 0.5lbs. lighter, weighing in at just about a quarter of a pound. Lacking any gaming buttons and other related hardware, the Remote is trimmed down, but still includes a dedicated headset jack and built-in microphone for voice commands. Also different from the Controller, the Remote communicates with the Shield over Bluetooth, allowing cross room or cross hall communication that even works through walls. Rechargeable via USB, the Remote can hold its charge for up to 4 weeks of normal use.