Nvidia Shield TV review (2015): The best Android TV device you can buy
The TV streamer market is crowded. The two juggernauts that are Google and Amazon are vying for the space, and Apple’s most recent Apple TV is trying to claw back lost ground using its new app ecosystem and advanced features such as integrated Siri. To make things even more confusing, most modern TVs all come with these sorts of capabilities built in as standard, meaning you may not even need a streaming device in the first place.
So, why Nvidia wants a slice of this cold and mostly eaten pie is beyond me. In fairness, Nvidia’s Shield TV is the best Android TV device available right now, but that’s not saying much.
Nvidia Shield TV review: What is it and how much does it cost?
At its heart, Nvidia’s Shield TV is an evolution of Nvidia’s original Shield handheld console and its Shield gaming tablet. Essentially, Nvidia has taken its Shield range to its logical conclusion and stuck it beneath the TV.
Running on the Android TV platform, Shield TV is similar to Android console counterparts such as GameStick, Mad Catz’s Mojo, and the failed experiment that was Ouya. The fact that you may not have heard of any of those speaks volumes about how Android-based consoles have fared over the years.
Nvidia’s Shield TV is different. It isn’t a dumb Android console and, with the inclusion of some rather interesting features, it stands a chance of becoming a hub for your living room home entertainment – not just a limited, slightly low-rent console copy.
However, it’s quite pricey. The 16GB model is £150, and it’s £220 if you want the version with 500GB of storage. Moreover, despite Nvidia initially supplying the remote for free, that’s also going to cost extra.
Nvidia Shield TV review: Design and build
While Nvidia’s angular design ethos and luminous green and black colour scheme might not be to everyone’s tastes, it’s hard to claim that this isn’t a good looking device.
Built from matte and black plastic, with a brushed black aluminium, touch-sensitive power button, this looks and feels like a luxury device. Even when switched on, the power light – a green, angular gash across the surface – looks both subtle and stylish. And, if you decide you want to show it off at its best, you can pick up a weighty all-metal vertical display stand for an extra £25.
The same premium design is carried across to the Shield’s remote. This is wrapped in black brushed aluminium with a glossy plastic face and matte, rubber buttons. It feels fantastic in your hand, but it ought to when you’re paying an extra £35 for it.
What does come included in the box, however, is the Shield game controller. Alas, while the remote control is clearly a premium product, the game controller feels cheap – like that third-party knock-off PlayStation 2 pad you used to have to use when you visited your friend’s house as a kid.
The thumbsticks feel responsive enough, but face buttons are cheap and clicky, the D-pad is spongy and the triggers have little to no resistance to them. It’s only after using the Shield controller that I’ve realised just how good the official Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers really are.