The Nvidia Shield—not to be confused with its older brothers, the Shield Portable and the Shield Tablet—is the latest product by Nvidia and now specifically built for the Android TV platform. I’m still wondering why Nvidia didn’t just call it Shield TV to avoid confusion.
Anyway, I’m stoked for a Shield (TV) because of exactly what the Shield Tablet does so well, and that is GameStream.
Looking back at the Shield Tablet
I’ve been a fan of the Shield Tablet because, at 299USD (got mine from Game One Gadget and fairly close to US prices), you get a superb 8-inch 1080p tablet running near stock Android, a stylus with simulated pressure sensitivity, front-facing speakers, and an HDMI out.
Yes, it has a built-in mini HDMI out that connects to any display with the corresponding HDMI input, whether TVs or Monitors. You don’t have to get yourself a compatible MHL cable and lose access to the micro USB port, especially when you need to charge.
And this is where GameStream and console mode shine. I’m one of those guys who love PC Games but still want the comforts of playing on a couch with a controller in front of a big-screen TV. Nvidia bridged that gap with the Shield Tablet.
There are, however, some limitations to this setup as you’ll need a PC with an Nvdia-based GPU (you can see the minimum requirements here), as well as a really good wireless-N router. You’ll get best performance with streaming if the router and the Shield Tablet are within each other’s line of sight.
With all the features of the Shield Tablet, I’m super excited for the Shield. Now, core specs are one thing but this is what really got me excited:
Those are 2 full-size USB 3 ports, along with an Ethernet port for wired networking. There are quite a few possibilities with this setup since now I won’t have to depend on a USB OTG cable anymore and lose my ability to charge the Shield Tablet.
With the Shield (TV), you not only have a dedicated charger, you can plug in a USB Flash Drive or HDD and play media from it, plug in a PS4 Controller if you want to (it worked on the Tablet) or any other USB devices like a keyboard, a mouse, a webcam, headphones, etc. It can basically act as a small-form computer if you wanted it to since Microsoft Office is available in the Google Play Store.
Using Ethernet should also give you a better GameStream performance (1080p at 60fps). No more hiccups because of bad reception of wireless signals. You should also have a better experience streaming video content from a DLNA server or the better alternative, Plex.
I’m still waiting for this to be locally available. I’ll probably even get this from the US and just ask a friend to bring it over when he comes home. You can get more information about the Nvidia Shield here and try to read up on the FAQ for more detailed information. You may think you don’t need it, but maybe you’ll want it just as much as I do.