Redesigned NVIDIA Shield Streaming Player Does 4K, Gaming, Home Control

NVIDIA demonstrated some revolutionary features on its new NVIDIA Shield streaming player. The Android TV based player has been fully redesigned both in hardware and menus. The unit was shrunk is almost half the size of the previous model. Both the remote and game controller had to be redesigned to accommodate the additional features on the new model.

The improvements are more than streaming 4K HDR video. NVIDIA has worked with Amazon Video to be the first to stream UHD HDR from the service. YouTube 360 can be experienced on your TV by using the joysticks on the controller to “look around” the video.

Google Assistant has been added to the Shield. It’s not just that the Shield becomes a full-featured Google Home voice activated controller, but that NVIDIA worked with Google to add new abilities. Like a Google Home, after saying the “Okay Google” wakeup command, users can control their connected home, as well find movies, tv shows and music and more on the Shield. Because the Shield is connected to a TV, answers to some questions may be accompanied by a visual display.

What’s revolutionary is the song search and photo features. For those times when you don’t know the name of a song, you can search for it by some of the lyrics or the chorus. The beefed up Google AI (artificial intelligence) can search through millions of songs and find the right one within seconds. It was impressive. The other Google Assistant feature lets you see your Google Photos on your TV. Simple ask to view a specific folder or album. As Google Photos has face and object recognition, you can ask to view only the photos you want (e.g., photos of a specific person, or all photos of dogs, beach photos, and so forth).

NVIDIA created a sort of Amazon Dot for accessing the Google Assistant when you are too far from your Shield, a small ball-shaped “Spot” (sold separately) can be plugged directly into an outlet to take voice commands. The Shield can respond to commands when the TV is powered off.

NVIDIA’s core fans are gamers who use the company’s high performance video cards for computers to play games with rich detail. PC game titles have become increasingly available on the Shield. The new Shield will have an improved gaming experience in conjunction with their GEForce subscription gaming offering.

The NVIDIA Shield is taking pre-orders and will be shipping in January. The new model comes with both a controller and remote control (now with IR to control your TV). The remote controller was separate in the previous model. The bundle is $200 for the model with 16 GB of storage and $300 for the model with 500 GB of strorage. While it appears more expensive than the previous model, the new generation comes with a remote. Note that the Google Assistant will not be available for a few more months as an update. Look for my review in the coming weeks.