Nvidia’s new Shield TV provides the best balance for all-in-one home entertainment


Image Credits:

Nvidia’s Shield line of devices is now more than six years old, and the latest member of the family is the new Shield TV, an update of Nvidia’s first set-top streaming box from 2015. The 2017 version slims down the console to a remarkably portable rectangle, adds a redesigned controller with a built-in ambient microphone, and includes a more traditional wand-like remote in the box.

The $199 device (or $299 for a larger version with a built-in 500GB hard drive) has big ambitions: Nvidia wants Shield TV to be not only the only streaming TV box you need, but also a gaming console, a smart home device and a personal digital assistant all in one. Yet it’s also virtually unchanged in terms of internal hardware from what Nvidia first released in 2015. Software makes it feel like a completely new device, however – and that’s going to benefit both existing users and those new to the Shield platform.

Android at heart

Under the hood powering Shield’s operating system is Android TV, in perhaps its most successful iteration. The new Shield brings an Android TV 5.0 upgrade, along with Android 7.0 Nougat, which Nvidia has used to improve its own custom navigation interface. There’s a much less confusing games section that groups all content under one broad “Games” category, for instance, which replaces the Shield Hub app.


More generally enjoyable additions with this software update include the ability to adopt external storage as native, which means you can plug in external flash drives via the two USB ports on the back and have those act as fully accessible storage space for games and media. This means buying the entry-level $199 model makes a lot more sense; if you ever find you need more space, it’s a fairly easy and inexpensive upgrade to pick up a high-capacity 128GB flash drive, like the one included in the review kit sent by Nvidia for testing. That’s a big advantage over other streaming devices like Apple TV, too, which have hard limits on internal storage capacity.

Other improvements with the software update include a built-in Amazon Video app which allows you to stream content, and access Prime Video if you’re a member. This also provides access to 4K HDR Prime video content, which is a significant upgrade for those who have the requisite TV or display hardware.

Android TV still also offers a wealth of media apps from the Play Store, meaning you’ll likely be able to find what you’re looking for in a streaming service provider. If you haven’t looked at Android TV since its launch, there’s a lot on offer now, and cord cutters are unlikely to feel a content pinch.


Voice control and cross-service search means you can press the mic button on your controller and use voice queries to find content across Google Play Movies, Hulu, YouTube, Plex and more, you can search once and find anywhere – even in your existing media library via Plex, which is again not something you’ll find with Apple TV.

Gaming grows up

On the new Nvidia Shield, the company has changed the way it serves up games with an eye to creating a device that’s truly capable of replacing your home consoles and gaming PCs. It does this with changes and improvements to both GameStream the service Nvidia offers to stream games locally from your Nvidia-powered gaming PCs, and GeForce Now, the $7.99 per month subscription game streaming service that runs titles on Nvidia’s own servers but lets you play them as if they were being run locally.


The updates to GameStream mean you can now stream at up to 4K HDR resolution, providing the game supports both, and you’ll also get haptic feedback to the new controller from the game. It is indeed a much-improved experience, and one that basically means your gaming PC can follow you around the house wherever you happen to have a display and the desire to play.

GeForce Now’s upgrades, however, are the really big deal here. The new backed means that games are running on servers with Pascal-powered graphics output, with either GTX 1070 or 1080 GPU power behind them. The quality is amazing, and combined with a 4K display, will beat just about anything you can get from your home console, as I verified playing titles like The Witcher 3 and Homefront, as well as The Division and Far Cry Primal, titles now available through Nvidia’s new day-and-date release partnership with Ubisoft to put all their games on GeForce Now.

I tested GeForce Now in a variety of conditions, using both wired and wireless connections. A wired Ethernet connection direct to my home modem worked best, with a connection that effectively gets about 6 Mbps consistently at max speeds. Using this set up, I could not tell that I was playing the game remotely. With a wireless connection, there were some tiny hiccups, but the experience was still very playable, and graphics still exceeded what I can get out of PS4 and Xbox One locally.


Brand new games still cost a lot (what you’d expect to pay for new releases), on top of the GeForce Now subscription, but the subscription comes with a decent back catalog included, and you don’t need to buy or maintain expensive PC equipment. It’s probably the defining factor of why you’d want a Shield instead of anything else right now, and it’s a powerful motivator for anyone interested in gaming – and even some who aren’t. My dad, who hasn’t played a video game since Super Mario Bros. 3 on original Nintendo, got caught up in Far Cry Primal and now is considering a shield for his next streaming device.

Home hub

A lot of what the Shield brings to the table is still in hibernation – Nvidia has teamed up with both Google Assistant and SmartThings to turn the console into a full-fledged Amazon Echo competitor. The SmartThings integration will let users turn it into a smart home control hub for an additional $25 when it arrives, providing control over connected lights, appliances and more. The Assistant integration, also coming later on, will enable the ambient microphone in the Shield controller and let you use “Ok Google” commands to control smart home, check weather and more.


Nvidia’s also bringing something called the Nvidia Spot to market later on, which are plug-in microphones you can spread across your house to issue voice commands to your Shield and Assistant from wherever you happen to be. These connect over Wi-Fi and will retail for around $50 apiece.

The fact that these features aren’t yet available is a bit of a problem, but not as much as you might think. Nvidia’s pricing for the Shield is the same as it has been, starting at $199, and there are other improvements beyond the availability of Assistant. These latent feature promises just mean that the Shield’s value proposition will only increase over time. Think about it this way: it’s like buying an Apple TV now, and getting a Google Home pushed to your device later as a free over-the-air software update.

Made for 4K HDR fanatics

The other big reason to pick up a Shield over other streamers is its extensive 4K and HDR support. I actually picked up an LG 4K HDR LED television in part because I wanted to see what the Shield was truly capable of, in fact. The results were indeed impressive, and made one thing very clear: If you’re looking for 4K HDR content, this is the best streaming device you can get.

It includes Amazon Video 4K HDR streaming, including Prime shows like The Grand Tour, out of the box. Even Amazon’s own Fire TV devices don’t offer HDR from Amazon Prime. It also has 4K HDR for Netflix, 4K YouTube and 4K for Google Play Movies. Games streamed from your local PCs can access 4K resolution, too.

Basically if 4K HDR is a priority, this is the way to go. Nvidia takes graphics to heart, and it shows on the new Shield.

Bottom Line

Maybe the most impressive thing about the new Shield is that you don’t actually have to buy one to experience the new features; all of the software updates described above, including 4K HDR and streaming improvements, are available to existing Shield TV device owners via a software update just pushed out on Monday. If you pick up one of the new, redesigned Shield controllers for $59.99, which will be used for the ambient Google Assistant features later on, you’ve got the new console (minus the slim new design).

Old Shield TV and controller (left) vs. new (right)

Nvidia says it left the Tegra X1 processor and other internal components the same because it was already 3x more powerful than the competition in areas where it counts, and the price maintenance means new Shield buyers are basically getting everything they would’ve gotten before, plus the Shield Remote in the box.

If you’re looking for a device that can replace as many of your home theater components as possible, the Shield TV is it. Support for live TV via USB tuners with the new Live Channels app means if you have an antenna, it’s also everything you need for getting and navigating traditional over-the-air TV, too. Some companies try to be everything and end up compromising all experiences, but Nvidia’s Shield TV is a true all-in-one that suits the needs of most people.

More TechCrunch


Some startups choose to bootstrap from the beginning while others find themselves forced into self funding by a lack of investor interest or a business model that doesn’t fit traditional…

VCs wanted FarmboxRx to become a meal kit, the company bootstrapped instead

Uber and Lyft drivers in Minnesota will see higher pay thanks to a deal between the state and the country’s two largest ride-hailing companies. The upshot: a new law that…

Uber and Lyft’s ride-hailing deal with Minnesota comes with a cost

Andreessen Horowitz’s American Dynamism fund has established a new fellowship program aimed at introducing top engineers and technologists to venture investing, a move that could help the firm identify less…

a16z’s American Dynamism team launches program to introduce technical minds to VC

Another fintech startup, and its customers, has been gravely impacted by the implosion of banking-as-a-service startup Synapse. Copper Banking, a digital banking service aimed at teens, notified its customers on…

Teen fintech Copper had to abruptly discontinue its banking, debit products

Autodesk — the 3D tools behemoth — has acquired Wonder Dynamics, a startup that lets creators quickly and easily make complex characters and visual effects using AI-powered image analysis. The…

Autodesk acquires AI-powered VFX startup Wonder Dynamics

Farcaster, a blockchain-based social protocol founded by two Coinbase alumni, announced on Tuesday that it closed a $150 million fundraise. Led by Paradigm, the platform also raised money from a16z…

Farcaster, a crypto-based social network, raised $150M with just 80K daily users

Microsoft announced on Tuesday during its annual Build conference that it’s bringing “Windows Volumetric Apps” to Meta Quest headsets. The partnership will allow Microsoft to bring Windows 365 and local…

Microsoft’s new ‘Volumetric Apps’ for Quest headsets extend Windows apps into the 3D space

The spam reached Bluesky by first crossing over two other decentralized networks: Mastodon and Nostr.

The ‘vote Trump’ spam that hit Bluesky in May came from decentralized rival Nostr

Welcome to TechCrunch Fintech! This week, we’re looking at the continued fallout from Synapse’s bankruptcy, how Layer wants to disrupt SMB accounting, and much more! To get a roundup of…

There’s a real appetite for a fintech alternative to QuickBooks

The company is hoping to produce electricity at $13 per megawatt hour, which would be more than 50% cheaper than traditional onshore wind.

Bill Gates-backed wind startup AirLoom is raising $12M, filings reveal

Generative AI makes stuff up. It can be biased. Sometimes it spits out toxic text. So can it be “safe”? Rick Caccia, the CEO of WitnessAI, believes it can. “Securing…

WitnessAI is building guardrails for generative AI models

It’s not often that you hear about a seed round above $10 million. H, a startup based in Paris and previously known as Holistic AI, has announced a $220 million…

French AI startup H raises $220M seed round

Hey there, Series A to B startups with $35 million or less in funding — we’ve got an exciting opportunity that’s tailor-made for your growth journey! If you’re looking to…

Boost your startup’s growth with a ScaleUp package at TC Disrupt 2024

TikTok is pulling out all the stops to prevent its impending ban in the United States. Aside from initiating legal action against the U.S. government, that means shaping up its…

As a US ban looms, TikTok announces a $1M program for socially driven creators

Microsoft wants to put its Copilot everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before Microsoft renames its annual Build developer conference to Microsoft Copilot. Hopefully, some of those upcoming events…

Microsoft’s Power Automate no-code platform adds AI flows

Build is Microsoft’s largest developer conference and of course, it’s all about AI this year. So it’s no surprise that GitHub’s Copilot, GitHub’s “AI pair programming tool,” is taking center…

GitHub Copilot gets extensions

Microsoft wants to make its brand of generative AI more useful for teams — specifically teams across corporations and large enterprise organizations. This morning at its annual Build dev conference,…

Microsoft intros a Copilot for teams

Microsoft’s big focus at this year’s Build conference is generative AI. And to that end, the tech giant announced a series of updates to its platforms for building generative AI-powered…

Microsoft upgrades its AI app-building platforms

The U.K.’s data protection watchdog has closed an almost year-long investigation of Snap’s AI chatbot, My AI — saying it’s satisfied the social media firm has addressed concerns about risks…

UK data protection watchdog ends privacy probe of Snap’s GenAI chatbot, but warns industry

U.S. cell carrier Patriot Mobile experienced a data breach that included subscribers’ personal information, including full names, email addresses, home ZIP codes and account PINs, TechCrunch has learned. Patriot Mobile,…

Conservative cell carrier Patriot Mobile hit by data breach

It’s been three years since Spotify acquired live audio startup Betty Labs, and yet the music streaming service isn’t leveraging the technology to its fullest potential — at least not…

Spotify’s ‘Listening Party’ feature falls short of expectations

Alchemist Accelerator has a new pile of AI-forward companies demoing their wares today, if you care to watch, and the program itself is making some international moves into Tokyo and…

Alchemist’s latest batch puts AI to work as accelerator expands to Tokyo, Doha

“Late Pledge” allows campaign creators to continue collecting money even after the campaign has closed.

Kickstarter now lets you pledge after a campaign closes

Stack AI’s co-founders, Antoni Rosinol and Bernardo Aceituno, were PhD students at MIT wrapping up their degrees in 2022 just as large language models were becoming more mainstream. ChatGPT would…

Stack AI wants to make it easier to build AI-fueled workflows

Pinecone, the vector database startup founded by Edo Liberty, the former head of Amazon’s AI Labs, has long been at the forefront of helping businesses augment large language models (LLMs)…

Pinecone launches its serverless vector database out of preview

Young geothermal energy wells can be like budding prodigies, each brimming with potential to outshine their peers. But like people, most decline with age. In California, for example, the amount…

Special mud helps XGS Energy get more power out of geothermal wells

Featured Article

Sonos finally made some headphones

The market play is clear from the outset: The $449 headphones are firmly targeted at an audience that would otherwise be purchasing the Bose QC Ultra or Apple AirPods Max.

8 hours ago
Sonos finally made some headphones

Adobe says the feature is up to the task, regardless of how complex of a background the object is set against.

Adobe brings Firefly AI-powered Generative Remove to Lightroom

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche Ventures invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B