Over the past four years, Nvidia Shield has established itself as a great streaming video player for TV geeks.
Although it does not have an Apple TV, Fire TV or Roku player, it offers plenty of stylish features for the power user, such as the ability to use it as a Plex server or – in a cheap dongle – the focus of a smart home.
Now, Nvidia has updated Shield TV with a new design, lower prices, better remote control and a truly cool AI upscaling feature that enhances HD video resolution on 4K TVs.
At $ 5, streaming media is still quite expensive, but new features will make it even more appealing to non-geeks.
However, there are still some hints about the emerging talent of ieldal. Getting the most out of Shield TV requires a bit of overlap through the menus, and the basic Android TV software still seems to be a work in progress.
Although easier to recommend to a wider audience than the old Shield, it is not an obvious winner on other live streams, including Apple TV 4K, Fire TV Cube and Roku Ultra.
Choose your solder
The new Nvidia Shield TV comes in two versions but both feature the same updated CPU, Nvidia Tegra X1 +. More about that
The $ 150 version reviewed here is a 6.5-inch gray plastic tube with a diameter of 1.5.5 inches.
There is an HDMI port and a microSD card slot on one side, a power connector on the other, and an Ethernet jack.
It has a button that plays the word on the remote control to help you find it. Inside, it has 8GB of storage space and 2GB of RAM.
According to Nvidia, the goal of tubular design is to put it on the ground alongside other A / V cables, but I’m not selling the idea.
Shielding away from access can prevent hidden Wi-Fi reception and prevent you from using the device’s remote search button, but it does seem strange to leave the tube open, with cables coming out of both ends.
If you like the old rectangular design of the Shield, it’s still on the new Shield TV Pro ($ 200 on Amazon).
It doesn’t have a microSD card slot or remote search button, but it does have a pair of USB ports to connect to external hard drives, game consoles, TV tuners, or other accessories.
It has more storage space and more RAM from the tube: 16GB and 3GB respectively, which matches the previous generation Shield TV box. As such, it is the only air between the two models that can qualify as an upper Plex server, Smartthings center or DVR.
Either way, you’ll find a device that can broadcast on 4K HDR with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio decoding.
The former can enhance the more vivid colors of HDR video on a per-view basis, but ultimately allows for object-based audio clips from Netflix.
Unfortunately, Nvidia has dropped support for HDR10 +, a non-proprietary alternative to Dolby Vision that is originally available on some Amazon Prime videos and does not support YouTube video on HDR.
New chips, new techniques
Performance has never been a problem with the previous Shield, which is regarded as one of the fastest broadcasting boxes on the market today.
However, Nvidia has upgraded the new Shield to 25 percent faster with the faster X1 + chip. The increase in speed in daily use is not really noticeable, but the new upgrade from Shield’s AI needs to be run.
This feature solves a real problem with streaming video today: even on 4K TV, most content still flows at 1080p or 720p speeds, so I rarely get the premium panel I gave it.
While most televisions have their own basic upgrade algorithms that can fill some details of 4-non content, Nvidia has taken a step back by training a deep learning model to estimate the difference between real and real 4K content.
This model then works in real time on the Shield, as it tries to cut the quality gap based on what you have learned.
In practice, this means the edges become more noticeable, the facial details become less jarring, and the hair strand becomes more specific.
Nvidia is proud to showcase the technology, including “beta mode”, as well as a technological upgrade that allows you to toggle or watch AI mode.
Back then, the difference was often obvious, especially if you were close to the TV or watching 720p content on YouTube.
Video extremists may make Upscale less aggressive or disable it altogether, but I have never found it necessary.
I acquired this technology soon, but I hope you can work on more types of content in different ways.
Until now, it could not raise the 60fps level of video like in live sports or convert it to HDR content of standard dynamic ranges.
Thank God, they set the remote control
Another big improvement over the new Shield TV is the remote control.
Gone is a very thin previous shield profile that easily slips back into the sofa cushions.