NVIDIA Shield Review
At Enplug, our engineering and testing teams work with the Nvidia Shield everyday (and rumor has it that it’s even in their dreams). With extensive testing, we’ve found it’s one of the best solutions to power our digital signage software, but the NVIDIA Shield can also bring world-class streaming into your home.
Here’s everything you need to know about the NVIDIA Shield and the many ways you can use it.
What is the NVIDIA Shield and what does it do?
The NVIDIA shield is a powerful streaming media player. Think of the Shield as similar to an Apple TV or Roku device. Plug the NVIDIA box into the HDMI port of your TV and you can play content from your favorite streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. In fact, NVIDIA’s app store has just about every streaming service you can think of.
But what makes the NVIDIA Shield really unique is its ability to do so much more compared to other streaming devices. The Shield was first introduced in 2013 as a gaming box. With the 2019 release of the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro, it’s now the world’s leading Android TV solution enabling users to build out smart home hubs, stream games from the cloud and more.
NVIDIA Shield TV vs Pro Specs
Before diving into what makes the NVIDIA Shield the best choice for a wide range of activities, let’s take a quick look at the specs (and they are impressive!)
|Nvidia Shield TV||Nvidia Shield TV Pro|
|Processor||Tegra X1+||Tegra X1+|
|RAM||2 GB||3 GB|
|Storage||8 GB||16 GB|
|Ports||Power, HDMI, Ethernet, microSD||Power, HDMI, Ethernet, USB (x2)|
|Smart home features||Alexa, Google Routines||Alexa, Google Routines, Samsung SmartThings|
There are two NVIDIA Shield Models: Shield TV and Shield TV Pro. With a futuristic design and slim profiles, both run on the Android TV operating system and feature the NVIDIA Tegra X1+ processor with 256-core NVIDIA GPU. They also have super high quality video output and offer Dolby Atmos and DTS-X surround sound audio capabilities.
Aside from the industrial design, the difference really comes down to memory and storage. The NVIDIA Shield TV is smaller and features 2 GB Ram and 8 GB of storage that’s expandable with a microSD card. In comparison, the Pro Shield is slightly larger and includes 3GB Ram and 16 GB of storage, which you can expand with an external USB hard drive.
If you’re looking to connect more accessories and peripherals, the Pro’s USB hub makes it easier compared to the non-pro’s microSD slot. However, you don’t have to physically connect a hard drive to the shield, you can always set up a NAS or use a hard drive connected to your router for some wireless options.
What are all the cool things you can do with the NVIDIA Shield?
Since the Shield runs on the Android TV operating system, it’s incredibly flexible. You can stream games from Geforce Now, use Google Assistant voice activation to connect to smart home devices.
Get AI upscaling for 4k video
If you have a 4K TV and the video from the source you are watching is only 1080p, the shield will upscale it to 4K using its AI upscaling technology. The shield even includes a before and after demo mode so you can see the difference. It is quite a step up from the upscalers built into your TV.
Remap the buttons on your remote.
The Shield app market place has some cool utilities you can download like button remapping. For instance, you can replace the big Netflix button on the remote to take you to a different app, such as Disney+.
Expand your storage.
Depending which version you have, you can either use a microSD card or the included USB ports to play media directly off your own storage. The Shield Pro has a built-in Plex Media server to make it easy to play your own movies.
Play games in any room with Geoforce
NVIDIA GeoForce makes it easy to turn just about any personal device into a PC gaming rig. The benefits include access to a full gaming library and store, as well as cross-play capabilities.
Cut the cord!
The app market gives you access to (just about) any free or paid streaming platform. Install Kodi on the NVIDIA Shield for free live streaming entertainment. Try Plex to view media files stored on another device. And if you’re still into cable TV you can get Showtime, HBO, Fox and many, many more.
To watch over the air TV, you can get yourself a tuner, an antenna and a Shield compatible USB drive (for DVR storage so you can pause and record shows).
- Tuner: Hauppauge WinTV-dualHD
- Digital Antenna (Wirecutter has some reviews)
- Hard drive for DVR storage
- Live Channels (free) or Plex (NVIDIA’s setup instructions)
Run Enplug Digital Signage
At Enplug we rooted the device and wrote custom Android software so that you can use the device for digital signage that is used for internal communications at some of the most innovative companies today.
Why we chose the NVIDIA Shield.
At Enplug, we use the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro for our digital signage player. That means we’ve tested it for clients who need to run the player 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, often in high-stakes situations. But if you’re searching for a home streaming player, the reasons why we love will also make it a great device for personal use.
Its Small Size
First off, the form factor. The Shield Pro is small and compact. At only 6.25 inches on its longest side and 1.02 inches tall, you can easily tuck the player out of view giving you a very clean install.
We considered many Chromecast devices as well as Amazon Fire. However, they just weren’t powerful enough to handle all the customizations we built into our digital signage. We tested multiple Intel based mini-pcs and found that software did not run as smoothly as it did on the Shield. You’ll find the Shield powerful enough for your 4k videos.
Our digital signage customers often run their NVIDIA devices 24 hours a day. Out of the thousands of devices we have in the wild, very few ever have to get replaced due to wear. The same can’t be said for the many mini-pcs and Chromecasts we have as test platforms in our office.
Like any popular hardware, If you search around the web, you can find some drawbacks to the Shield. In particular, you may see people saying that their NVIDIA Shield remote is not working. Luckily, this issue can be remedied in a few ways.
During our testing we noticed that the batteries die quickly. While the older version of the Shield ran on coin batteries, the latest 2019 version uses AAA batteries that are easier to buy and that you likely already have around your home. The other issue we’ve seen is that the remote can disconnect from Bluetooth a bit too easily.
If you find the functionality of your NVIDIA remote too limited, it can easily be replaced. For our purposes at Enplug we simply use a mini keyboard. For home use some of the best replacement remotes are from Logitech. Since the NVIDIA Shield is compatible with the Harmony Hub you can use any of Logitech’s universal remotes.
Should you get the NVIDIA Shield?
The NVIDIA Shield is a solid choice if you are looking for a high powered media player for streaming your 4K HDR movies at 60 FPS. It has a whole list of additional features that you will find handy. These include the extensive app market that allows you to easily connect to your video or music streaming services, and the ability to play AAA video games without a separate gaming console. The NVIDIA Shield is an all around great choice for viewing your favorite shows and movies as well as casting media from your devices.
Where can you buy an NVIDIA Shield?
If you’re looking to use the NVIDIA Shield media player in your home, many of the large online retailers carry it and even offer Black Friday deals on select NVIDIA models.
At Enplug, we’ve customized the NVIDIA Shield and preloaded it with our software for the best digital signage experience. If you want to use an NVIDIA Shield for displaying visual communication in your organization contact us for a subscription and purchase the device in our online shop.