Android TV is far and away my favorite platform to stream media on the big screen, but it’s a shame that there’s so little good hardware out there. Today, Nvidia is releasing the 2019 version of its popular Shield TV, but the new base model is a radical departure from what we’ve seen before. Here’s what you need to know.
The new Nvidia Shield TV (2019) isn’t designed to hit quite the same target market as the previous models. Instead, it’s designed to appeal to the average user who just wants the best streaming box on the market. The new Shield aims to accomplish that by using a much more compact, tube-shaped design, so let’s start there.
The redesigned form factor for Shield TV means it now fits basically anywhere. Where the old design required that you left the Shield on a shelf in your entertainment center, the new model can just be plugged in and forgotten. It isn’t a traditional “dongle,” though, so it can be plugged in with any HDMI cable —one is not included in the box — and won’t crowd the back of your TV.
Despite the smaller size, though, the Shield TV (2019) still packs most of the necessary ports. As mentioned, there’s still HDMI, and there’s also a power plug. Notably, that power plug is now using a more common standard, meaning replacement cables are cheap. Ethernet also sticks around, too.
The new Shield TV fits almost anywhere
The full-size USB ports are gone, but expandable storage is possible with a microSD card slot. That’s a good thing, as this new Shield TV cuts the internal storage in half at 8 GB. Nvidia says this should be enough for the target audience, though, as they’ll mostly be using just streaming apps. I would’ve preferred keeping 16 GB, but it’s not the end of the world by any means.
Internally, the Shield TV (2019) has even more power than older Shield models. There’s a Tegra X1+ processor paired with 2 GB of RAM. That processor is apparently 25% more powerful and enables Nvidia’s new AI upscaling. This feature takes content from 720p up to 4K using smarter upscaling than what you’d find on a traditional TV or streaming box. We’ve been using the new Shield TV for a bit and when the feature is active, the quality is very good.
On top of the AI upscaling, Nvidia is delivering on a highly requested feature of the previous Shield TV models with the 2019 revision. The new Shield TV supports Dolby Vision HDR, and Dolby Atmos audio. Nvidia even touts that the Shield TV is the only major streaming box that supports both features on Netflix, Prime Video, Vudu, Movies Anywhere, and Disney+ when it launches next month.
Another big highlight of the new Shield TV (2019) is its updated remote control. The remote is still Bluetooth, but it addresses some quirks of the previous design. It’s thicker and a bit harder to lose now along with adding proper buttons for volume controls, play/pause, power, and even fast forward and rewind. There’s also a dedicated Netflix button and all of the buttons are backlit. Nvidia says battery life will last about six months on the 2 AAA batteries.
Adding on to the good with this new remote, the Shield TV has a button above the Ethernet port which, when pressed once, will trigger a remote locator function. The settings button at the top of the remote is also customizable in the Shield’s software.
As you’d expect, Nvidia is sticking with Google’s Android TV platform with this new lineup. Both new Shields ship with Android Pie pre-installed and you’ll get Google Assistant for controlling smart home devices, looking up content, and more.
Wrapping things up, even on the standard Shield TV (2019), users can still game. There’s no controller bundled with the device, but the previous Shield TV controller can be purchased separately, or you can use almost any Bluetooth controller and the controllers from the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The standard Shield TV (2019) starts at $149 and is available today at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and many other retailers. As you’d expect, it ships with Android TV based on Pie.
More on Android TV:
- Nvidia Shield TV Pro costs $199 w/ 4K AI upscaling, Dolby Vision HDR, more
- Android TV’s redesigned Play Store rolls out over the ‘next few weeks’
- Nvidia Shield Android TV remote app gets redesigned w/ app shortcuts, new buttons
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