Your original NVIDIA Shield Android TV isn't being left behind
With a ton of attention being paid to the new Shield Android TV, some of the biggest questions surrounded how the new model compares to the original. More importantly, everyone wants to know how many of the features of the new model can come back to the old Shield Android TV, and where all of the new peripherals stand in terms of backwards compatibility.
Thankfully we have good news: all is well on the original Shield Android TV front, and you won't be left behind as the new model hits store shelves. Here's what's happening with the original box.
You aren't missing out on hardware
The first thing to realize from the get-go is that internally the new Shield Android TV is identical to the model you have right now. Though the outside has shrunk down to take out unused space, the internals of your current box are still great and still top of the line. In fact, you have one benefit over the new model in that you still have an SD card slot for expanding your storage.
Sure the new Shield Android TV is dramatically smaller than the original making it easier to stash away in your entertainment center, but that's hardly a reason to buy it as a replacement for an original. Stick with the current box knowing you have the latest specs still.
All of the new software is coming
Now that you know your hardware isn't out of date, it's important to know that NVIDIA is continuing to support the original Shield Android TV with software updates. The company has committed to releasing the new Android 7.0 Nougat software unveiled at CES 2017 to the original box. And here's a bit of good news: the update is coming the day that the new box begins shipping. While NVIDIA doesn't want ot put a date on it, Amazon listings show (opens in new tab) that release date is January 16 — so you can expect the software to start hitting then as well.
When the software lands on your Shield Android TV you'll get the new interface tweaks, improvements to the gaming system and better performance. You'll also be right in line to get the next software update that'll bring you Google Assistant.
The new peripherals will work
NVIDIA has completely redesigned its Shield controller to be smaller, more comfortable and particularly more feature-packed. Its new TV remote also has dramatically better battery life and an IR blaster. Even though you already have a controller and probably a remote with your current box, you can buy the new accessories and they'll work just fine with the current Shield Android TV.
You may consider buying the new controller (opens in new tab) as a new primary gaming pad while using your current one as a backup or for multiplayer, but also keep in mind that the new controller enables always-listening microphones for Google Assistant when it comes later this year. NVIDIA has yet to make the new remote available (in fact it's still selling the old model) but when it goes on sale you'll be able to pick it up and get year-long battery life for those times when you don't want to pick up a full controller to navigate.
The new NVIDIA Spot microphone peripheral is also compatible with the old Shield Android TV as soon as it receives its Nougat software update. If you don't want to pick up a new controller to enable always-listening for Google Assistant the new Spot will also do the trick, and it gives you more options in terms of being able to place it somewhere else around the house.
Get the Android Central Newsletter
Instant access to breaking news, the hottest reviews, great deals and helpful tips.
Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.
If there is an apk that will work in all regions I would love to know 😉
Edit: I just looked on nVidia's site. Sure enough, no IR receiver on the new 16 GB Shield TV. It is there on the Pro version. What is interesting, and needs to be researched, is that the Pro version looks like it comes with the old remote with the headset jack and no IR blaster, while the 16 GB has no headset jack but comes with the IR blaster on the remote. Seems interesting to me.
Did they show any deep integration between assistant and shield? Will I be able to request a specific show in a specific app be played? Will a command picked up by my Google Home have the same capabilities/integrations as the Assistant built into the Shield? Or will I have to make sure the correct device heard what I said to get the feature I desire?