NVIDIA has launched two new models of its Android-based “open-platform media streamer” in Australia today. I’ve previously reviewed the first NVIDIA SHIELD TV available in Australia and I still use it every, single day. The new SHIELD TV has been given a significant boost to its processing power, thanks to the Tegra X1+ processor which enables Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and AI upscaling, transforming HD into 4K.
The two new models launching today are the SHIELD TV and SHIELD TV Pro. While first launched overseas in 2015 and updated in 2017, these new models have been designed to be the most advanced streaming media player available.
During a presentation of the new SHIELD TVs, NVIDIA told me that it’s “not looking to design a lower cost, low-end streamer with basic functionality. The goal is to deliver the most cutting edge experiences to the market.”
NVIDIA SHIELD TV
The two models have been designed for two different markets and types of consumers. The SHIELD TV is smaller, less powerful and designed to be hidden away from view, so there’s less visual clutter. It also comes equipped with Giganet Ethernet and dual-band Wi-Fi to connect to a home network with the best speeds possible.
The SHIELD TV Pro has a similar form factor to the original SHIELD TV, but it’s got some serious power inside. It includes additional memory storage, two USB ports to enable running a PLEX media server, HDDs or other USB devices.
Both devices will now offer Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos surround sound. NVIDIA calls this the SHIELD’s “cinema-quality visuals and audio.” Previously, SHIELD TV supported HDR 10, but these new models have moved over to Dolby Vision, which, according to NVIDIA “has become the gold standard for HDR.” Dolby Atmos also comes standard with these new SHIELD TV models whereas, in the past, only passthrough for Dolby Atmos was supported.
Apps that already support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos on SHIELD TV include Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+. NVIDIA also confirmed that Stan would support Dolby Vision in the near future.
The new processor included in these SHIELD TV products gives a performance boost of 25% over the previous generation. Where NVIDIA is most proud of this performance boost is AI upscaling while streaming content.
NVIDIA said that the high-performance processor in the unit is great for gaming and for making using the device fast and “snappy,” however, when it came to streaming, the GPU wasn’t being used much at all.
We worked very closely with our engineering teams and came up with a great new concept, an idea that really takes advantage of this process and horsepower when you’re streaming video.
Our processors are very multipurpose now, so a graphics processor can be used to accelerate artificial intelligence workload. So we’ve worked very closely with our AI team to come up with a new feature called AI upscaling, which is a first for streaming media players.
Essentially, AI upscaling takes an existing image at 720p or 1080p and displays it at 4K resolution. To achieve this, NVIDIA trained a neural network offline by feeding it loads of streaming content, movies and TV, at 720p, 1080p and 4K. By doing so, NVIDIA was able to get the AI to figure out what the differences between the images were and eventually, it could predict the difference between the two images.
By taking that AI model and applying it to the SHIELD processor in realtime, the SHIELD TV can now upscale from 720p and 1080p to 4K.
Aside from AI upscaling for non-native 4K content, the SHIELD TV also supports native 4K and apps on the device include YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and more.
Being an Android product, the SHIELD TV supports Google Play and the Play Store and there are a huge number of games available right now. Players who also have a GeForce powered PC can also take advantage of game streaming and stream their content from the PC to the SHIELD and play from the comfort of their couch on their TV.
While previously, there was a model that sold with a controller, this time, controllers are sold separately. NVIDIA explained that the SHIELD TV supports both Xbox One and PS4 controllers wirelessly and other wireless controllers should work. I asked about the Switch Pro Controller, but unfortunately, it’s not yet supported.
One hugely impressive, yet simple, feature is the lost remote. Everyone loses their remotes and if you have children in your home, it’s likely to happen daily. The new SHIELD TV remote includes a lost mode that can be activated on the device or through the SHIELD TV app on your smartphone.
The remote also includes motion-activated lights to allow you to see the buttons in the dark, a built-in microphone and IRR for TV control. Additional buttons have been added for volume, fast-forward and rewind and a remappable button that allows users to customise their remote.
In addition to being a media streaming platform and gaming device, SHIELD TV also comes equipped with Google Assistant and can connect with smart devices like lights, thermostats, doorbells, cameras, coffee makers and more. The voice-activated and controlled Google Assistant can now understand sentences and longer commands to be even more helpful every day.
As of today, both models of SHIELD TV are available for purchase from Centre Come, Harvey Norman, Kogan, JW Computers, MWave, PCCG, PLE Computers, Scorptec and Umart.
The SHIELD TV retails for $249.95 AUD and the Pro version retails for $349.95 AUD.
Look for a review of the new SHIELD TV soon on PowerUp!.
For additional information, head to the SHIELD TV homepage.