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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!

Benchmarking Suites And Test Notes

Even though the Nvidia Shield’s hardware components and operating system scream mobile, it’s really in a unique class of its own. We decided to run it against several contemporary tablets that share some of the same characteristics and general feel that the Shield has, but excluded tests like the HTML5 and JavaScript testing because there is no traditional browser included in the default installation.

CPU Core BenchmarksBasemark OS II, Geekbench 3 Pro
GPU Core Benchmarks3DMark, Basemark X 1.1 Full, GFXBench 3.0 Corporate

For comparison, we ran the Shield against three of it tablet-based contemporaries, including its predecessor, the Tegra K1-powered Shield Tablet along with the iPad Air 2 and the HTC Nexus 9.

During the days leading up to the Nvidia Shield’s announcement, there weren’t too many benchmarking options available to choose from. Since Android TV is a new branch of the Android OS, we had to sideload some of benchmarking applications ourselves. This meant putting the Shield into development mode, installing the android drivers on our laptop and installing the APKs via an android developers bridge (ADB). Because it’s a new device with different menu options, setting up and sideloading the apps took some time to figure out, but we got there.

One other note we should point out about using sideloaded apps on the Shield is mouse support. Some of the tablet-based benchmark apps require touch input, and since we’re using a regular non-touch display, we needed some way to press those “Start Test” buttons. Since we didn’t have a Bluetooth mouse available for testing, we tried using a USB mouse, but ran into a screen freezing problem every time we plugged the mouse into the Shield’s USB port. It was only after we observed that the Shield would go back to normal once we unplugged the USB mouse that we realized there was an issue with the Shield’s plug and play. We didn’t run into any other problems with other plugged-in devices that came in the Shield package, but I did check and got a similar response with a USB keyboard. In the end, to get around the plug-and-play problem, we simply plugged the mouse into the Shield before booting up the Android TV OS.

Now, onto the tests…