Could there be a better time to launch a new streaming device? Probably not. Nvidia’s refreshed SHIELD streaming box launched internationally last year, and as of right now you can finally grab it in Australia. The main takeaways is added support for Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, an AI processor to better handle upscaling of content to 4K, the new Tegra X1+ chip, and a new remote that has a six month battery life.
So, here’s the main details. The SHIELD TV comes in two versions, starting with a new design that’s a little akin to a pitch black dunny roll. It’s designed to seamlessly blend into your TV environment, hiding behind the cabinet and such, and will sell for $249.95. The more expensive version is the SHIELD TV Pro, sporting a slimmer, rectangular design that’s basically identical to the original SHIELD TV.
That’ll go for $349.95, with the main advantages being slightly more RAM (3GB over 2GB), more storage (16GB over 8GB), the ability to work as a PLEX Media server, access to a series of games from Lightspeed Studios, Nvidia’s in-house studio for remastering games, and two USB 3.0 ports.
Both devices will come with the redesigned SHIELD remote, as well as AI upscaling, Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos surround sound, expandable MicroSD storage, Bluetooth 5.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi support. And both versions have the ability to trigger a Find My Remote-style feature, in case you lose the thing behind or a couch or your bed. You don’t get the SHIELD Controller this time though: Nvidia reasoned that most people have a PS4 or Xbox One controller lying around, and all versions of the Shield work just fine with those. (In an embargoed con-call, Nvidia said they hadn’t tested support with the Switch Pro Controller yet.)
As a reminder, here’s what the last version of the SHIELD looked like:
I’m still a big fan of the original Nvidia SHIELD. It’s the streaming device that became a staple in my household: Android TV was just snappier, more versatile and more updated than the experience of smart TV apps or streaming through the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X. That might no longer be the case when the new consoles launch with SSDs, but for the last couple of years, I’ve actively enjoyed using the SHIELD over all other devices.
The kicker is that the SHIELD was a pretty poor gaming experience. Even playing apps pre-installed on the device, as opposed to streaming them through a local network or online, were laggy and beset with audio sync issues. You can play games on both the new SHIELD devices, although Nvidia are positioning the SHIELD PRO as being much better suited for game streaming. The SHIELD PRO is the only one with access to around 20 Lightspeed Studios games, including Half-Life 2, The Witness, DOOM 3, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Borderlands 2, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Portal 2, the Half-Life 2 episodes, Resident Evil 5 and Tomb Raider.
I haven’t been able to test those claims yet; review units were sent out earlier this week, but the coronavirus nightmare has caused havoc with a few deliveries. When I can risk the commute into the office to grab some stuff, I’ll bring the SHIELD TV back and let you know what the 2020 model is like.
Both the SHIELD TV and SHIELD TV PRO are available online in Australia now, for $249.95 and $349.95 respectively. A full list of retailers can be found on the Nvidia Australia site here.