TV test by Nvidia Shield: The ideal streamer for PC gamers and geeks – CNET

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Compared to the $ 50 Roku and Fire TV Streamers of the world, the $ 150 Nvidia shield, has always been a relatively small niche. If you only need YouTube, Netflix, and Disney Plus, it's over the top. Still, it remains a popular choice for geeks and gamers who want more extras and features, including 4K HDR (now with Dolby Vision), built-in Google Assistant, and a range of game options Apple Arcade seem like a one-trick pony, especially for PC gamers.

To like

  • State-of-the-art streaming with 4K AI upscaling, Dolby Vision
  • Native Android, cloud gaming and Steam Link options
  • Improved Android TV interface with Google Assistant

I do not like it

  • Expensive
  • Some problems understanding voice commands
  • Slower than Roku to launch Netflix

In addition to GeForce Now The game streaming platform, the Android games store and the GameStream function for compatible PCs make this device an eye-catcher for gamers: Steam. As the Steam Link now only lives on in softwareShield TV is one of the "cheapest" ways to bring Steam PC games to your TV screen. Yes, the Shield TV costs more than most of the competition, and the price is difficult to justify for "just a streamer," but here, too, geeks and gamers can find plenty of reasons to enjoy themselves.

Is it a cigar? Or a USB power bank?

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Sarah Tew / CNET

The newest Nvidia Shield TV is available in two versions: You can find the familiar-looking Pro version ($ 200) of the Basic Shield TV here. The Shield TV is the most covert device I can remember from the game company. It is roughly the size and shape of a runner stick. At 6.5 inches long, the all-black Shield TV is designed to hide behind your TV – and there aren't even lights to tell you it's on. If I were a marketing guy, I would call it "Shield Ghost" or "Ninja" or something.

The shield television has a total of four connections, each with two connections – on one side there is a standard socket (no adapter required) and Ethernet, on the other an HDMI connection and a microSD expansion slot. There's a single reset button, but unfortunately there's no room for USB.

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The end of the 6.5-inch device has an HDMI port and a microSD card slot

Sarah Tew / CNET

Unlike in previous years, there is no controller in the box, but you can connect compatible PS4 / Xbox One / PC controllers via Bluetooth.

In terms of speed and feed, it has an Nvidia Tegra X1 + processor with a 256-core Nvidia GPU and 2 GB RAM. It offers 4K compatibility with both Dolby Vision and HDR10 as well as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X Passage. The device is also able to scale streamed content using its proprietary AI upscaling.

Here's how the two new shields compare to the one previous version from 2017,

Nvidia Shields in comparison

Schild-TV (2019)

Schild TV Pro (2019)

Schild TV (2017)

price

$ 150

$ 200

$ 200

Shape

cylinder

box

box

processor

Tegra X1 +

Tegra X1 +

Tegra X1

R.A.M.

2 GB

3 GB

3 GB

camp

8 GB

16 GIGABYTE

16 GIGABYTE

USB 3.0 ports

No

2

2

Wi-Fi and Ethernet

Yes

Yes

Yes

Android TV with Google Assistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Plex media server

No

Yes

Yes

4K HDR video

Yes

Yes

Yes

Dolby Vision

Yes

Yes

No

Dolby Atmos

Yes

Yes

Just pass it through

AI upscaling

Yes

Yes

No

Backlit remote control with remote viewfinder

Yes

Yes

No

game controller

optional

optional

Included

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Sarah Tew / CNET

The included remote control has been completely rebuilt and has a new, Toblerone-like triangular shape. That sounds pretty awful on paper, but it's actually quite pleasant to hold. The button array now contains dedicated volume, settings, and Netflix shortcuts. It's a Bluetooth device and comes with a remote finder (though it's menu-based and not a physical button like the Roku Ultra remote). If you have an older shield, you can add the new remote for an additional $ 30.

After testing and using Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa devices for a few years, I'm used to voice assistants making mistakes, but unfortunately the tiny microphone on the Shield TV remote is one of the worst ever. For example, when I asked for "Steam" – what most gamers would do as a user of this device – every time the shield heard me say "theme". My request for the other Nvidia feature "Gamestream" was also questioned as a "famous train".

Android TV: Google's best TV menu so far

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Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

As a user of the Sony NSX-GT1 TV, I've seen Google's TV operating systems have evolved quite a bit. With the latest 8.x version of Android TV, the Shield is the most user-friendly Google streaming device I've seen so far. The user interface is now focused on content – similar but less spammy than Fire TV ($ 35 at Amazon) Interface. The users have some control over the individual columns as well as the first row of the app links.

For example, Android TV may not be particularly important for people who don't have a current Sony TV, but the system offers almost all the apps available, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, and Disney Plus. Back when we tested the Shield 2017, some apps were missing, but since then big apps like NHL, NBC and Amazon Music have been available. However, the MIA list still includes AT&T TV Now, Nick Jr., USA Now and Napster.

The user interface has an attractive, high-contrast appearance and is easy to navigate with a few adjustments. An annoyance of previous Google user interfaces – leaving an app to adjust settings – is avoided on the Shield TV with the special button for settings and the sidebar.

Shield TV, gaming and you

The shield includes the GeForce Now beta app for streaming cloud games (also available on mobile devices, PCs or Macs) and the GameStream app for streaming from an Nvidia gaming PC. Then there is the Steam Link app, which does not require an Nvidia graphics card.

I still use the Steam Link Box to stream games from my PC and was looking forward to seeing the corresponding Nvidia solution: an app that runs on the shield. I spent some time setting up both Gamestream and GeForce Now and found them to be much less user-friendly than Steam Link – for example, I had numerous system timeouts and had to make several attempts to create user accounts – even though I was using a cable connection. But when I finally got it going, the first thing I suggested was playing Steam games!

Even if the game was listed as a GeForce Now title, the shortcuts continued to lead me to the Steam store to buy it. When I finally found one that was streaming – Sonic & All-Stars Racing transformed – I found that the system worked as if I were playing a local game. It may not be the most exhausting game on the market, but control with an Xbox One joypad was appealing and I didn't experience any lag in gaming.

Use the sign

Like many other streaming boxes of recent times, Shield TV also stores the most recently used apps in the buffer memory. So if you only use one streaming service, it will load almost instantly each time. For example, when I tested Netflix and opened it again, it loaded immediately. In order to test the loading times correctly, I opened a different program between the three different time sequences. As expected from a Google device, the Shield could load YouTube in a very short 5.7 seconds, but Netflix's loading time was one of the slowest I've seen in a dedicated streamer.

Loading times for streams

Netflix

Youtube

restart

Roku Streaming Stick Plus

2.92

8.83

38

Roku Ultra 2019

2

7.21

30.06

Nvidia Shield TV

8.19

5.7

58.79

The interface behaves similarly to other streamers, even if voice search is not always as well integrated as it should be. For example, most apps have a search field, but they do not automatically correspond to the voice commands entered via the handset. When you press the microphone, the icon will still appear as a separate search at the bottom of the screen.

I also checked the image quality of the different apps with special consideration Nvidia's AI upscaling feature, Netflix HDR content (Lost in space) and Disney Plus (The Mandalorian) looked as impressive as I expected.

The effects of AI upscaling were more or less noticeable depending on the content, and I found that they worked best on YouTube clips. In a Tonight Show Starring clip by Jimmy Fallon, for example, the background of the building and the microphone were improved and the screen was made more HDR-like with activated AI settings. These differences were seen at a normal 6-foot seat distance, while minor improvements, such as: B. Face details, in the default setting "Medium" were only visible from a distance of a few feet. I also noticed some moiré in the YouTube clip, but the AI ​​engine didn't fix this or fix other video artifacts like compression. In other words, it's a subtle difference and won't work miracles.

Should you buy it

The Shield TV is a very powerful streamer and due to its portable shape and easy-to-find power connector, it is also a decent travel unit. Is it the ultimate gaming streamer? No, but it is definitely worth a look if you are a PC player. It's fun, compact, and offers some unique image quality features that differentiate it from cheaper devices like that Roku Streaming Stick Plus and the expensive options like that Apple TV 4K,