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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!

Gaming With Shield

Other than movies and music, Shield also provides both Android games from the Google Play store and through GRID, Nvidia’s game streaming service. At GDC, we were able to try out some of the titles, but it wasn’t an ideal setting to really test how it would function in the living room until now.

First up is Android gaming. Games are bought through the Google Play store and downloaded to Shield. Aside from games, the store also includes TV and music apps. However, it’s not as organized as it should be compared to the strangely-titled Download Games area under the Shield Hub section. Here, games are organized in better categories ranging from featured titles, to a row only for indie games, and there's even a list of games that require multiple controllers. This is because the Download Games space spotlights certain titles that are optimized for gameplay on Shield.

We’re not sure why there has to be two places to purchase games since it should have been easy to add a special category in the store called “Shield Recommended Games,” or something of that nature. The Google Play app does a great job of filtering music and entertainment apps. It even breaks down a few games into a few areas, one of which is suited for titles that work best with the optional remote. However, the way games are displayed isn’t up to par with the Download Games section, which means you tend to first check the Shield Hub, then Google Play for game titles.

Considering the size of these games, your internal storage is going to fill up rather quickly. The best way to avoid storage issues is to move games and apps to a SD card. Unfortunately, Shield doesn’t support external USB drives.

With the limited storage space inside Shield, GRID is a necessity to gamers. Again, you can always transfer games and apps to a SD card, or for a $100 more you can buy the same Shield device with an immense 500 GB of storage.

Since the Shield comes with its own controller, which is the same one used in the Shield portable system, veterans of the smaller device are in familiar territory. However, for people who are used to playing with an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, it might feel strange even though the layout is the same. It’s bulkier than an Xbox One Controller and your hands don’t fully wrap around the grips. Near the top of the controller are four buttons: one that brings up the search bar, another for the Shield home menu, one pauses the game, and the last brings up the option to capture a screenshot or even livestream your gameplay through Twitch. However, they’re touch-based, so the slightest tap can accidentally pause your game or even go back to the home menu. The Dualshock 4 has a similar feature with the touchpad, but even that requires a few presses to activate certain actions, whereas the central buttons on the Shield controller are activated with a simple touch, so it can take some time to get fully acquainted with how it feels in your hands.

  • jasonelmore
    keep the shield devices coming nvidia! that gpu score.. can't wait to see it in their tablet next month.
    Reply
  • Per Wigren
    FINALLY a review that tests GameStream. I can't believe how there can be so many reviews out there and just about no one that bothers to try this rather major feature, considering it's produced by Nvidia and comes with a gamepad... Thank you!

    The result is rather discouraging, however. Did you use it at 1920x1080 at 60 FPS? Was the game set to that resolution on the PC as well?
    Reply
  • Valld
    Nice review, just a few mistakes in the specifications:

    1. There are moving parts inside - the cooling fan, clearly visible on the photo
    2. Bluetooth version is 4.1/BLE, not 2.1
    3. Micro SD card slot supports cards up to 128Gb, not 2Tb
    Reply
  • Dunofrey
    One more correction, the shield pro has a 500 gb hybrid drive not a 200 gb drive.
    Reply
  • Eggz
    Interesting! People with HTPCs will be looking for something given that Windows 10 won't have Windows Media Center any more.

    I think that creates an open market, and I'm curious to see whether Ceton will hire some programmers to come up with a piece of software that supports all of the WMC functionality, and whether they or anyone else will solve the OnDemand functionality issue that's now exclusive to cable boxes.
    Reply
  • Zepid
    What a shit review. No codec information, no playback benchmarks for local media. No information as to if you can mount USB storage to be readable natively by Android apps (as in can I plug in a USB HDD and see it without doing anything in say... VLC). Because Android TV doesn't support this by default without a root or custom ROM, I assume Nvidia has this feature enabled but ZERO REVIEWERS have bothered mentioning it.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    Where's the gamepad review? Stream Dark Souls I/II to the thing and really hammer on the d-pad with weapon swaps / item use, and report back. Thanks! :)

    "Git gud casul."
    Reply
  • Emanuel Elmo
    I made this correction before and nobody seems to have corrected it.

    The $299.99 model of the shield comes with a 500GB HDD and NOT a 200GB HDD.

    I will say this again that it can be confirmed off of the Nvidia website.
    Reply
  • thrus
    Something that bugged me early in the article since your internet was only 23Mbps you couldn't reliably stream 4k from Netflix, but the gigabit port make HD work fine. If the port was all that mattered it far exceeded the recommended 25Mbps for 4k as well. The gig port had nothing to do with your streaming, heck an old 100Mbps port would be 4 fold the required throughput for 4k. keep the specs in the specs section and don't try to shoehorn them in where they are irreverent.
    Reply
  • deppman
    I have the 500GB Shield. The Talos Principle can be set to 1080p rendering and it looks and performs very well. I'm not sure why it defaults to 720p rendering. The Wi-Fi results in less lags and hiccups than the Shield Tablet, so game streaming is better nearly glitch-free IF your network isn't busy. Video streaming is flawless, and even Chromecast improves. Also, Google just released 600 more TV apps, so selection is greatly improved. Now if I could only install a browser.
    Reply