We stated it already, if you have the last-gen Shield TV console already, then there is just no reason to upgrade whatsoever, and that is not a joke. You will get all new and hip features that Shield 2017 offers for free once you upgrade to the new OTA firmware. The Shield hardware is the same, the remote control has had a small downsized tweak to make it cheaper but the game controller however has been improved yet also maybe was made a little more cost-effective in order to put it all into one 200 USD/Euro bundle.
We very much like the fact that Nvidia is now including the remote as standard with the package, we however dislike the actual changes. We do understand the choices made, but the remote is now using a cell battery and I so much would like to see the world being more green. The older model was rechargeable and that imho is the best solution. Also due to the change to a battery you will lose the headphone connector on that remote. The two have no effect on its great functionality though, the remote works great and is probably the best you'll find compared to any remote for any android TV device. The new game controller will take getting used to. I liked the touch pad on the older model, however the new version is a notch smaller and lighter which I do seem to like. It games well, and is easy to use. The Nvidia Shield Android TV itself is an intriguing device that got even smaller (and lighter in weight). We won't miss the MicroSD slot that once again likely was removed to cut costs to be able to include that remote into the new bundle.
In the end you might think that the Shield 2017 is simply an Android TV device. Fact remains that the software functionality and features this unit offers is second to none. It likely is the best streaming device your money can get you. From a hardware point of view the X1 SoC still offers all you need, it is a powerful SoC (System on a Chip) that can deal with anything thrown at it. The hardware has no issues with any kind of content whether that is 1080P or 4k Ultra HD / 60Hz content now with full support for HDR as well. Hardware wise this might be the very best Android box available on the market to use as a media center PC. Combined with the all new KODI, the Shield remains to be my number #1 media box. Now I know that sounds a little subjective, but trust me when I say that I am that nitpicking guy when it comes to content playback for both audio and video. It is amazing how well the symbiosis of the hardware and software works while offering great image quality. Audio wise we already told you, you start at 2-channel PCM, move to Dolby Digital and DTS, but can end at Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, everything is supported.
Gaming is another core fundament of the Nvidia Shield Android TV box, the X1 definitely is one of the faster Android game devices out there, but pales away in the sighting of any modern console. GeForce Now is what this product initially was is all about. Nvidia invested heavily into server farms spread over data-centers worldwide, recently all upgraded to Pascal units as well to improve on render quality. I mentioned this in the earlier review as well, the problem however remains the fact that you'll have a hard time getting a PC gamer to go streaming. Streaming is and remains something for perhaps a younger generation, which needs to be a console type of individual slash gamer, at home in front of that telly. This is why the Nvidia Shield Android TV was launched, a box that sits next towards the telly, offers Smart TV functionality, offers media center capability and then that very same box can be used to play games on. The stream gaming experience however does not disappoint at all. It looks pretty greaty and is very lag free.
Right it is time to sum up a thing or two. The Nvidia Shield Android TV 2017 is mostly a form-factor upgrade over the older model. Initially what started as just a simple streaming device these days has advanced towards a streaming device with exemplary media playback functionality. The heart of the hardware might have remained the same, but the software team made tremendous steps forward in streaming capabilities, apps but also advancing to things like high-resolution audio, Dolby Atmos support and proper HDR10 implementation. The OS software is now based on Android 7.0 (nougat) and runs incredible smooth. The menu is fast and responsive and with the remote control just so easy to navigate. It might not have been upgraded, but the processor is plenty fast while the SoC is tied to 3GB of memory, the default model has 16GB storage but that storage can easily be expanded with a tiny USB stick. You can also make network mounts with the Shield now. If you are into it for Smart TV functionality, then the Shield goes full circle in that segment as well by offering Netflix support, Amazon Prime support, Google video, Youtube and well you name it. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime also support Ultra HD and HDR.
In closing I would like to say that Nvidia is advancing with the Shield Android TV console, and it will keep doing just that. It's not just a Plex server, Kodi media center or stream gaming device. No, Nvidia wants to be an integral partner inside your living room as well, much like Google, and as such the two forces are slowly combining together. Over the coming months you are going to see some new smart home announcements. That Shield unit will be an integral part in your living room, you connect and control devices with it. The Shield itself will listen to you, if you ask it a question it will answer that question for you. Yep, scary stuff maybe, but that is what the big picture is all about. Hey we all know the Star Trek computer that talks and reacts right? Or maybe the Hall 9000 from 2001-- A Space Odyssey. That's where names like Google and Nvidia are headed to with the Shield being the centralized HUB of it all. Whether you find that important or not, it is the direction we are going that we cannot stop. Game streaming then. When it works it works well, looks good and offers decent performance on the games we tested. We did run into some issues, waiting queues before we could start a game and next to the occasional stutter we have experienced some random drops out of the game. The video on the previous page displays that. This was not WIFI related, it really was the Nvidia cloud stream service.
In the end I find the Shield Android TV 2017 a fascinating device that got even smaller yet gained fantastic potential. For an android box the 200 euro/usd might seem a little steep, the reality is that it is hard to not be enthusiastic about such a simple device that has so many options. The success that Shield is, is not the hardware. It's the research and development that went into it. A very talented team of software engineers continuously looks and focuses on the hottest features that tease and tickle the enthusiast crowd. Hence the success of the Shield Android TV is not the X1 SoC, it's the heart of the software and the engineers that make it. Highly recommended as Smart TV replacement, Plex Server, KODI media-center, game streaming device and in the near future smart home HUB. Included now is the remote and of course that game controller as well. For 200 bucks people, go get it now.
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