Although many modern smart TVs have built-in streaming capabilities, these often prioritize basic functionality over personalization. Anyone who wants to customize their streaming setup should look to standalone, external streaming devices. That’s where the NVIDIA Shield TV comes in.
With a new model released at the end of October 2019, the latest Shield offers a redesigned remote, next-generation Enhanced AI-Upscaling and even more content than before.
The NVIDIA Shield and its Pro version currently retail at $150 and $200 respectively. Though this is considerably more than you’d spend on a 4K Fire TV Stick or Roku Ultra – which tend to hover in the $50-$100 range – many consumers have sought this media and game streaming combo kit out for their home entertainment setups. In fact, finding this do-it-all device in stock is often difficult.
Review Consensus: Is the NVIDIA Shield TV Worth It?
As it stands, you can find dozens of reviews across the internet for NVIDIA’s popular Android TV streaming device. With so many voices and opinions on offer, it can be difficult to tell which review best aligns with your specific queries.
To save you hours of research time, Slickdeals Aggregate Reviews compiles all the info you’ll need to make an informed purchasing decision in one place. In this case, we’ve summarized the top 10 reviews for the NVIDIA Shield TV to bring you the most important takeaways.
Since the product has been around for almost a year, experts and gaming enthusiasts across the web have had the chance to put it under a magnifying glass. The general consensus among reviewers aligns with IGN’s statement, “the NVIDIA Shield TV is one of the best media streamers you can buy.”
NVIDIA Shield TV Specs
- NVIDIA Tegra X1+ processor with a 256-core NVIDIA GPU and 2 GB RAM
- 8GB storage, expandable via MicroSD
- 4K HDR ready with Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10
- Dolby Audio (Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos) support
- Google Assistant and Alexa compatible
- Runs Android 9.0 (Pie) Powered by Android TV™ with Chromecast 4K built-in
- HDMI 2.0b port with HDCP 2.2 and CEC support
- Wi-Fi and Blutooth 5.0 + LE connectivity
NVIDIA Shield TV Remote Features
- Microphone for voice search and commands
- Motion-activated backlit buttons
- Bluetooth connectivity
- IR blaster for control of volume and power on TVs, soundbars, or receivers
- Remote locator for finding a lost remote
- 2x AAA batteries included
Consensus: Generally Positive (6/10 Positive, 3/10 Neutral, 1/10 Negative)
Main Takeaway: In literally every review we consulted, the writer took time to make at least one comedic jab at the NVIDIA Shield TV’s cylindrical housing. NVIDIA claims the shape improves your TV area’s cable management, but reviewers weren’t captivated by this feature in-practice. However, reviews are much more positive when it comes to the new remote control. Since users spend considerably more time engaging with the remote than the base device, many reviewers were able to get past the outlandish shape.
“The shape may seem odd but it’s designed to prevent it slipping down the side or backs of sofas, and it works. A simple, user-friendly design.” –The Guardian
As detailed by Modern Dad in his video review, the old NVIDIA Shield TV remote was quite small and easy to misplace. In the video, he shows of the new device’s “find your remote” capability. The remote pairs with your smartphone, so when it gets lost you can track it down like you’re hunting for treasure with a metal detector. All the reviewers found the new remote to be more comfortable to hold and commend the use of 2 AAA batteries to avoid the stress of regular recharging. According to NVIDIA, the batteries should power the remote for six months or so before you have to change them.
Reviews also found the new remote to be more practical with additions of necessary buttons the previous generation didn’t have. The device also comes with motion-detecting backlighting. This was a huge perk to product testers like Chris from Tech Spurt who confessed to being an avid watcher of Netflix in the dark. Tech4All’s reviewer was also pleased with this aspect of the remote stating it is, “very discreet and another area where NVIDIA found the perfect balance.”
“The glowing up mission and all of this package which I think is pretty unacceptable really for a product that costs $150 is the fact that there is no HDMI cable in the box.” –PC Centric
Many reviews mentioned the lack of an HDMI in the box. With the low cost of HDMI cables, it is very easy to get one, so no one suggested avoiding the product because of this exclusion. However, PC Centric uses this exact reasoning to argue that NVIDIA should have just included one in the first place.
Consensus: Universally Positive (8/10 Positive, 2/10 Neutral)
Main Takeaway: When it comes to streaming devices, there is usually little to no customization for the UI. However, testers of the NVIDIA Shield TV didn’t find this to be the case for Android TV. Whether you’re an app hoarder or a minimalist, the reviews shared just how easy it is to customize the interface to your liking.
“Generously, NVIDIA is not locking us to their default launcher as it is with some other TV boxes.” –Tech4All
For users who err toward minimalism, Tech4All’s reviewer also suggests downloading TVLauncher 3 which can easily be installed on the NVIDIA Shield TV. If you love all sorts of media, The Guardian states, “one of the biggest advantages of Android TV has compared to other systems built into TVs is the wide app support from most of the major UK and US streaming services.” Many of the reviews also touch on NVIDIA’s aptitude for updating its software frequently.
In terms of performance, one of the key metrics for streaming boxes is interface speed. Home Theater Review took a more technical approach to testing the NVIDIA Shield TV and found it to outperform competitors like the ROKU Ultra. Other reviewers also found this to be true when comparing to TVs with built-in streaming capabilities.
“I cut the cord last year, moving from cable TV to YouTube TV, and my only complaint has been the slow speed with which my Roku TV switches channels. That lag all but disappeared with Shield TV. Flipping through channels on YouTube TV via Shield TV is much faster than with my Roku-enabled Insignia TV and on par with the speed of the Apple TV 4K.” –IGN
Consensus: Generally Positive (6/10 Positive, 4/10 Neutral)
Main Takeaway: While many of the reviews only briefly touch on the TV streaming aspect, the consensus is the Shield TV does the job well with no qualms. Most of the positivity revolves around the device’s support for Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10 as well as superb sound quality through the many facets of Dolby Audio.
“Android TV has access to thousands of apps — although like most app stores, there’s a lot more chaff than wheat. At the very least, you’ll be able to get just about every major channel, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Spotify, Pandora, Vudu, YouTube and just about every channel-specific streaming app out there.” –Tom’s Guide
In the 2017 version of the Shield TV, the number of sports apps was quite limited. But for this generation, viewers have considerably more options. While many of these channels require subscription fees, there are still several popular free options like NBA Game Time and Redbull TV.
“The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is pretty thoroughly equipped for pretty much any HD and UHD decoding you could hope for, whether you’re a streamer or a media ripper.” –Home Theater Review
Consensus: Mixed (4/10 Positive, 6/10 Neutral, 2/10 Negative)
Main Takeaway: The NVIDIA Shield TV stands out for its ability to straddle the line between streaming box and game console. Through the GeForce Now app, players have access to over 400 games to stream straight to their TVs. But, as many reviewers noted, the brand has shied away from gaming in recent years—a move that’s reiterated by the lack of a dedicated game controller in the current package. This wasn’t much of an issue for testers – the Shield TV is compatible with most Bluetooth controllers, including Xbox and PS4 – but it does add an additional cost if you’re looking to play games.
“On the subject of gaming, you might have noticed the lack of a Shield game controller and the seemingly downgraded specs. The biggest reason for it seems to be that this time around is back to pushing the Android TV aspect of the Shield hard, with gaming falling quite literally to the 13th section on the product page.” –Linus Tech Tips
For users who intend to casually game on the Shield TV, testers found the experience satisfying for the most part. Reviewers from CNET, PC Centric and Linus Tech Tips gave the device a go, and they were able to enjoy games like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Untitled Goose Game and Just Cause without latency issues. However, to optimize your gaming experience, they all recommend using an ethernet cable, as the Wi-Fi can be a bit dodgy depending on your home network setup.
“As the now , the Shield TV is one of the ‘cheapest’ ways to get PC games from Steam to your TV screen. Yes, the Shield TV costs more than most competitors, and the price is tough to justify for ‘just a streamer,’ but once again geeks and gamers will find plenty of reasons to splurge.” –CNET
Currently, there are two versions of the Shield TV: the regular and the Pro. As noted by Linus Tech Tips, the upgraded version is almost identical to the standard device but one-ups the regular Shield by offering Advanced Android Gaming. With this feature, players can enjoy some popular AAA titles (including the GeForce Now library). If you’re hoping to play competitive games, the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro is more attuned to your needs.
Consensus: Universally Positive (10/10 Positive)
Enhanced AI-Upscaling is one of the NVIDIA Shield TV’s biggest selling points for the reviews we consulted. While more traditional methods of upscaling HD content to 4K simply blow up the image, the Shield TV uses intelligent machine learning to add extra detail and color to the picture during upscale. While reviewers admit results vary based on what movie or show you’re watching, many critics took enjoyment in running their HD media libraries through this feature.
“One of the most impressive features here on the NVIDIA Shield TV (2019) is the active up-scaling … it does it better than any other upscale I have ever seen.” –Tech Spurt
Like the Shield TV’s interface, AI-upscaling offers several options for customization. You can set how aggressive you want the feature to be or you can turn it off altogether. Tom’s Guide, “found it worked pretty well, although it did occasionally change a picture’s color for no real reason (a red sign became orange in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, albeit with sharper text).”
“NVIDIA’s done a really cool thing here. They’ve left in some of their internal tools that you can use when you buy this to see the difference. You can see it side by side. They got a cool little swiper thing or you can just turn it off and on. So you can switch it between the basic upscaling and the enhanced AI upscaling to really see the difference there. It’s pretty neat!” – Modern Dad
Reviewers like Tech Spurt also briefly touched upon the Shield TV’s compatibility with Google Assistant and Alexa. In their vlog, they gave an example of how to use the device to do things like dim the lights. So if you have a smart home linked to these virtual assistants, the Shield TV is another medium for access.
How to Find the Best Deals on NVIDIA Shield TV
Unfortunately, there are no current sales for the NVIDIA Shield TV and its Pro version. Due to the mass stay-at-home order enacted in 2020, there has been more demand than ever for the device and actually finding one in stock may take a stroke of luck. But have faith, the deals do come around.
Since the beginning of this year, the NVIDIA Shield TV has seen discounts pretty frequently with a deal surfacing about once a month from retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and B&H Photo Video. However, the increased demand for this product doesn’t translate to deep mark-downs with sale prices settling around $125 to $130. If you are interested in the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro, discounts pop up a bit less often and the lowest we’ve seen so far is about $180.
For the time being, you can set up a Deal Alert and hopefully nab one during its next round of discounts.
- The Guardian
- PC Centric
- Tom’s Guide
- Home Theater Review
- Linus Tech Tips
- Tech Spurt
- Modern Dad