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Nvidia Shield Android TV Review

For this review, I will be splitting the testing portion into two halves. In this section, I will be taking a look at Android TV and how well it works for everyday use including video streaming from sources like Netflix, to running some more intensive apps like Android games. Then over on the next page, I will be taking a look at GeForce Now (Nvidia's new name for its cloud gaming service) and in-home game streaming.

Android TV Home

For those who don't know, Android TV is essentially a curated version of Android that only allows apps that work well on a TV with a remote or gamepad. This results in a fairly closed off and in some ways, a cut-down experience for those that are used to regular Android on tablets or smartphones.

Google Play Store_20160329_102910 Android TV Play Store

When it comes to app selection, Android TV has plenty to offer with apps for some of the more popular catch-up TV services and the ability to play back Netflix shows in 4K, which is a rare feature indeed for a set top box. There is also a fairly good selection of games too.

The Nvidia Shield Tablet came with vanilla Android installed and still managed to provide a decent TV experience thanks to the gamepad having a mouse cursor function. This gave you a much greater degree of freedom and control over the software.

However, the Android TV user interface is designed to be used specifically with a remote and as a result, UI navigation can feel quite clunky at times and apps like Google Chrome aren't great to use. The mouse cursor feature of the Shield controller is also removed, which is a shame. I have brought this up with Nvidia and have been told that they are looking into it so we may see it return at some point but no promises!

Truth be told, going from the Android we see on smartphones and tablets to a more cut down version designed for the TV takes some getting used to. At first, I was put off by the limited nature of Android TV, particularly since the Shield Tablet did such a good job of proving that vanilla Android could work on a TV.

Android TV Netflix

However, once you start using some of the Shield TV's headlining features like 4K playback on Netflix, or playing some of the Shield's exclusive games, you start to appreciate the platform a whole lot more.

For starters, if you happen to own a 4K TV already then you owe it to yourself to give Ultra-HD Netflix a shot as it really is something else. The selection of shows is fairly limited right now but I got to watch Daredevil season 2, House of Cards season 4 and even some Breaking Bad on a Samsung UE55JS8500 UHD TV and it truly was a sight to behold. The library is also growing on a regular basis so it will improve over time.

HL2 Shield

Now while the Shield TV does have a fairly powerful Maxwell GPU under the hood, Android games aren't going to be running at 4K. For example, Half-Life 2 runs at 720p. However, the scaling is very good leaving you with a crisp and clear image. On top of that, Half-Life 2's frame rate was solid throughout, the only con here were the lengthy loading times.

I also had the chance to try out my favourite game of all time- Knights of the Old Republic, which also works very well on the Shield TV with the gamepad.

There are some other games that I thought would work well on the Shield TV like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Unfortunately, while this is available for tablets, it isn't on Android TV yet so there is still room for improvement when it comes to the game library.

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2 comments

  1. I bought this device on Black Friday and I still love it and use it every day, to play games and watch movies and series in Netflix and Kodi. I actually prefer streaming over Geforce Now to playing the same games natively on my PS4 nowadays. A highly recommended buy.

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