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New NVIDIA Shield Android TV: Everything you need to know

NVIDIA Shield TV 2017
NVIDIA Shield TV 2017 (Image credit: Android Central)

NVIDIA made a splash at CES 2017 when it unveiled a new version of its extremely popular Shield Android TV box. The new Shield Android TV has a similar design, identical internals, same price and similar value proposition as the original, and isn't even getting a distinctive name to separate it from the first model.

So what has changed, and what can you expect to get in the new Shield Android TV? Well there's still plenty to unpack here.

New external hardware

NVIDIA Shield Android TV

NVIDIA didn't see a need to overhaul the internal hardware of the Shield Android TV, and it's hard to blame it for doing so. The original box was more than powerful enough to handle high-end gaming and entertainment, and offered just about everything anyone was looking for. What has changed, though, is the external hardware and a couple fringe hardware features.

You're packing the same power into a box nearly half the size.

Though the new Shield Android TV has the same basic shape and look it's roughly 40 percent smaller overall than the original, which is extremely impressive when you think about what's inside. It still has a wedge-like shape and geodescent pattern all around, accented by a green light that glows when it's powered on, and has an optional stand accessory that will place it upright if you'd like to put it more on display.

Read: NVIDIA Shield Android TV review

Around the back of the box you'll still find an ethernet jack, HDMI out and two USB ports, but one of the room-saving removals is the SD card slot. That may hit a small group of people that liked the idea of using the slot for adoptable storage expansion, but know that you can still do the same with any USB drive if you wish. You'll also notice the Micro-USB port is gone, but don't worry — NVIDIA has an option to let you use one of the USB-A ports as an input port for a PC connection if you need it. The new box also lacks an IR receiver so it can't be controlled by traditional IR-based universal remotes, though the Shield's own controller and remote do support IR for controlling your home entertainment components.

Improved controller and remote

NVIDIA Shield Android TV controller

The included Shield controller has gone through a complete overhaul. You can immediately see a slimmer overall profile and once again a geodescent pattern all around that offers a unique grip — the joysticks also have more texture around the edges.

When it comes to non-gaming uses, the controller has ditched the somewhat-finicky capacitive navigation buttons for proper hard buttons for back/home/select. You'll still adjust volume using a capacitive touch pad between the sticks, and a single press of the green NVIDIA button at the top activates the microphone for voice commands. The controller charges over Micro-USB still, and NVIDIA claims 60 hours of battery life when playing games.

The peripherals received much-needed improvements.

Though not everyone will want to play games regularly with the Shield controller, you'll want to keep it around as it's a bit of a trojan horse for the console. Thanks to its large battery and microphone, the controller is the conduit for the Shield Android TV to always listen for "OK Google" commands when Google Assistant hits the console in a couple of months. So long as the controller has a charge (a couple weeks with typical use), it'll stay connected to the Shield Android TV and be always listening for your input — it simply hands the data over to the box, which crunches the information and gives you responses.

The Shield Android TV now includes its remote alongside the controller in the box, which is much better than shelling out $50 for the TV-focused accessory. The new remote is similar in design, but is no longer rechargeable and has lost its headphone jack for private listening — on the upside, though, is a quoted year of battery life. Going a step further, both the controller and remote now have integrated IR blasters, meaning they can control other parts of your home entertainment setup like adjusting volume on an AV receiver or a TV that doesn't fully support HDMI-CEC.

What's new in Android Nougat for TVs

NVIDIA Shield Android TV

Much of the new software being shown off on the Shield Android TV isn't NVIDIA's doing but rather just what you get when you upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat. As we knew already, Nougat introduces features like picture-in-picture mode and an app switching interface, as well as little bits of polish around the interface. A new YouTube 360 app highlights many app improvements as well.

NVIDIA made a couple of changes as well, including removing the "NVIDIA" section of the home screen and tweaking the way the "Games" section is displayed. You'll now see local, Gamestream and GeForce Now games all in one place to launch all the same. Further, the new "NVIDIA Games" portal will let you shop for and manage games from all three sources. There's also a new Steam app that will launch you directly into its lean-back "Big Picture" experience so long as you're a Gamestream user with Steam set up.

Google Assistant isn't ready yet

NVIDIA Shield Android TV

One of the biggest features of the new Shield Android TV's announcement is Google Assistant, but unfortunately it isn't ready yet. The best that NVIDIA can offer us in terms of a time frame is "in the coming months," which is understandable considering this is the first expansion of Google Assistant outside of Google's own hardware. Everyone wants to get it just right.

This may be the most complete Google Assistant experience, even more so than on a Pixel.

From what we've been able to see thus far, the Google Assistant experience seems exactly as you'd expect and more fully featured thanks to the large display. Simple queries like asking about the weather or upcoming appointments, or making Google searches, pop up a half-height display over whatever's on screen giving you the information. Specific questions like asking about your photos or a music video will jump straight to the required app like Google Photos or YouTube.

Importantly, any integration designed for the Google Home today will work on the Shield Android TV via Google Assistant. Anything from calling an Uber to showing you recipes for dinner will yield the same responses, but simply include a visual component whenever possible. In many ways, this is a more complete Google Assistant experience than you can get on a Google Home or even Pixel.

Smart home potential

NVIDIA Spot

NVIDIA is putting tons of focus on entertainment, but the Shield Android TV is also poised to be a capable smart home controller. Through a partnership with Smart Things, the Shield Android TV can be transformed into a Smart Things Hub with the addition of a tiny dongle plugged into one of its USB ports. Once configured, you can then talk directly to your Shield Android TV to control any device that integrates with Smart Things.

As soon as Google Assistant is available you'll be able to command everything through Smart Things using the Assistant as well. The possibilities go even further when you invest in some NVIDIA Spot accessories, which will extend the smarts of the Shield Android TV to any room within Wi-Fi range. With a bit of configuration and these additional accessories this little Shield Android TV could really become not only the center of your entertainment setup but also your smart home.

Now available

For those who don't yet have an Android TV box and are considering the new Shield Android TV, you don't have to wait — the new box is already on sale at Amazon for $199.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

81 Comments
  • Already preordered, can't wait to get it. Looking forward to trying out spot when it's available.
    I guess I'll let the kids have my old shield. edit:It's also available for preorder from Best Buy. that's where I ordered mine.
  • Does "old shield" mean an old Shield TV? If so, there's no benefit to buying a new one unless you just really want it to be smaller. The internal hardware is the same, so as I understand it, the new software stuff should be available for the old one too. You would get a new remote and controller, but I assume those will be cheaper purchased separately and just used with the old system.
  • Why do people keep making this comment over and over and over on every single comment on every article about the Shield?
    Do what you want with your money and I'll do what I want with mine. I want one so I'm buying it.
  • The point is that if you have an old one there is literally no reason to get the new one unless you want 2 of the same thing. Which is totally fine, but know there's no reason to get it as a replacement.
  • Is the new one using a a smaller fab process or improved binning on the SoC to allow the much smaller chassis, or was the old one just bigger than necessary?
  • The original version had both the 16GB version and the 500GB version in the same chassis. The new one used 2 different chassis so the one that doesn't have to fit in a 500gb hard drive doesn't need that space.
  • The old one was bigger than necessary because they wanted to have a Pro version that had a 500GB HDD. Now, the "standard" model doesn't have room for an HDD so it's small. Sure they could've also reconfigured a tad internally, but the processor etc is the same for all intents and purposes.
  • I completely understand that. My point is that prior to this article there were 3 articles in the past day or so on AC that had something to do with the Shield announcement at CES. On those 3 articles, the comment about not needing the new one if you have the old one was made about 50 times. In this article you do a really good job of explaining that the console hardware has not been upgraded.
    I can let the first few times the comment was made go as being helpful because it legitimately would be helpful to someone who didn't know, but at this point it just seems like people are being condescending a-holes who want to show everyone that they know so much more and are so much smarter than everyone else and that their word should be final in any decision that anyone makes.
  • Hey, just trying to be helpful. If you want to buy another, then by all means do so. nVidia have been pushing this as a "new" Shield TV, when really it's basically the same thing. I didn't realize that at first and thought maybe you didn't either. Edit: Also, I haven't read all the articles on it, much less all the comments on the articles, so didn't realize this was a dead horse.
  • My apologies, i may have overreacted. Just tired of seeing that comment repeatedly. Like i said, the first few times were ok because it probably helped a lot of people, but after a dozen or so times it was annoying and it shows no sign of stopping.
  • Yeah you did overreact. I'm curious though, why did you tell people you were upgrading to the new shield if you didn't want people telling you it's pointless? Stupid is as stupid does
  • Well, my mutant mind reading powers had been temporarily blocked by the solar eclipse so i didn't know exactly how sometime would respond to my comment.
    Damn you're an idiot. That may be the all time stupidest comment on the internet. You must be proud of your incredible ignorance. It's at a universally high level.
  • Get over yourself. If you want to stupidly waste your money then we're going to point it out. Buying a new Shield if you already own one is... well... stupid. There ya go.
  • It seems like for me, buying the new one while I already have the old in is the smartest choice. Keep in mind I'm not buying ti to replace my old one, I've been wanted to get a second and decided to wait to see what/if comes with a new one. Since the new one comes with the new always listening remote and controller I can one the new and the other on the old and have always listen on both. I won't have to buy anything new for my old one to get the new function. I'm also not sure what the current street price is on the Shield TV(actually could be quite high since not everyone knows a new is coming that had been trying to pick up the original ones that have been sold out) but you could probably sell the old one and buy a new one for less out of pocket(or at least not much more) than a new controller/remote and have a new warranty.
  • 😂😂😂😂😂😂
  • I have the original, its brilliant i wont be updating to the new version. Unless i stop recieving software updates.
  • That is indeed amazing :D
  • Yeah, it doesn't look like there's much reason to upgrade the device itself, although getting the new gamepad may not be a bad idea.
  • New software is coming to the original one 100%. So that's good!
  • I know you said 100% but that doesn't seem right. Even 4K HDR? I hope they polish the software a bit better, cause there are definitely memory leaks in mine. I am sure its HBOs doing, but every few days I have to reboot the device or it wont start the stream of HBO content. And when I try to chromecast showtime content to it, It connects but the stream wont start. I know a lot of this is that the apps dont get TLC from devs, but I hope that can change. Other things include some apps like HBO not properly switching to 2 channel audio when you want to use the headphone jack on the remote.
  • Yeah I'll keep the original but I'll probably grab the new controller.
  • Hi,
    On Nvidia's site. They indicate that the headphone jack is available on both the 16GB an the 500Gb version. Why do you think that it is not available on the standard shield ? Did you read this on another tech site ? Can you please investigate an verify. I tend to rely on Android Central as being a site that has its facts straight. I want this to continue. Thanks.
  • I'm not sure you read things correctly. The headphone jack is available on the controller but not the remote. That's true for both models and it's what this article and Nvidia's site both indicate.
  • They're still not getting their pages up to date ... the aftermarket remote definitely still has a headphone jack, so I don't know how they're going to differentiate them.
  • whoa whoa, what's this about the smartthings dongle? this is the first i've seen about that anywhere. If it's super cheap I might just have to pick one up; right now i'm a wink user which is cool but this might be worth the switch edit: apparently $30 retailing "later this year". It's called the smartthings extend and I guess it's been in the rumor pipe since it was shown off a whole year ago at ces 2016. here's hoping they figured it out and it will actually come out soon
  • First I've heard about it, too... and it doesn't make sense to me as written. The SmartThings hub includes a set of radios (particularly ZWave and ZigBee) that would have to be replicated in the dongle in order to even be a possible replacement for the ST Hub itself. Beyond that, though, there still the onboard software of the ST Hub. I suppose that could be replicated on the nvidia Shield TV, but the ST Hub is designed to be always on AND has onboard battery backup. So in addition to the additional hardware requirements, and the software requirements, then there's the installation mentality of an entertainment device vs a home automation hub. (Dunno, maybe most people install these as always-on devices?) While this is intriguing, I suspect that there's still something missing in the reporting about this feature. Looking forward to reading additional information and experiences with this system!
  • The usb dongle has those radios and since the shield will be "always listening" via google assistant it will always be on; I'm guessing there isn't much power needed to run the smarthings backend. No battery backup though. I'll stick with Wink tho as long as they integrate into assistant/home soon
  • I have an Xbox One and a Chromecast, do I need a Shield?
  • Probably not, unless you want the Android TV interface, the older games that are on the SHIELD, or a way to stream games from a gaming PC to your TV.
  • Or need to have kodi ?
  • Not unless you like the idea of using it as a Google Home replacement.
  • Does anyone really NEED any of this? #deepsaturday
  • Think it would be good to mention that current Shield TV owners will be getting all the applicable features through a software update. Hopefully, current owners can buy the updated remote and or controller separately if they want.
  • Here's the updated controller on Amazon so it looks like you will be able to https://smile.amazon.com/NVIDIA-SHIELD-Controller/dp/B01N7DQ0L6/ref=sr_1...
  • Yes, the new remote and controller can be ordered separately from Nvidia's site(and probably other places as well) and they will work with the current model.
  • Separate article :) But yes, the software is coming to the old one 100%, and you can buy the new controller and remote.
  • They also removed the IR receiver from the box so the Logitech remotes will no longer control it... That is worth mentioning also. Losing the ability to charge the small remote and losing the ability to use it with headphones is also terrible...I use that feature so often. No SD card on the lower model is a letdown because it is on the $300 version...Which does not need it. They took away more features then they brought and the OG boxes should get all the features of the new one anyway sooo... Looks like they saves a bit of money here more then making it better.
  • What the what? that is a BUMMER, where'd you find that info? I have a harmony hub so I hopefully I can still control the shield via that with bluetooth but seems backwards to get rid of an IR receiver.
  • They have no mention of IR anywhere on the new spec sheet... Kinda stinks I hope you can also. I'm keeping my old box. Works great and can't wait forum 7.0
  • Looks like the Pro has an IR receiver but the standard doesn't according to the nvidia spec sheets, that is weak tea for a $200 streamer...
  • Hmm I could not find that info anywhere but ya... Kinda lame. Also can't find if the 500gb version is larger of not to accommodate the HDD. Maybe that's why they can fit more?
  • Yeah the Pro is larger and heavier, also includes microSD slot and microUSB ports. No excuse for not having IR tho, even the 2" square $69 mi box has one; though with my harmony hub it doesn't matter to me I guess. You can find those specs by scrolling down on this page and clicking on either the 16gb or 500gb pro
    https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co...
  • Ya without a micro USB or USB c port I would not buy it either. I use the micro USB in my now to run a USB hub off of. Which is where I plug my wireless keyboard dongle into. They really gimped the smaller model for sure... I would never buy one of these with a HDD... Makes zero sense to me with adoptable storage
  • The pro is the "old" hardware still to incorporate the 500GB HDD
  • Ah did not see this the other day. They made it so confusing now but At least they are not leaving behind the early adopters. The smaller box will be better for some im sure
  • Huh...I just noticed that. It seems the controller has an IR Blaster, but not the box itself. That's a bit of a dilemma.
  • This could be a blessing in disguise, maybe this Harmony will go back to controlling the shield over BT. I already doing this by using a windows PC device on Harmony paired to the shield's BT but it doesn't have shield specific keys(so I still use IR for those). BT works a lot better for scrolling also last time we had numeric keys IIRC was when it still used BT so maybe we'll get those back also. The only Shield specific I really ever use and not all that often is home key(since my Shield is mostly used for SPMC/Kodi and I can launch all my other apps from it's menu) and the back key over BT can eventually get you home. There's also the chance that spec is just incorrect and it still has IR(I'd prefer it didn't if Harmony will actually support it's customers and put back BT control of the shield, that may be a longer shot than the new Shield actually have IR).
  • For anyone that prefers the remote to another controller, they lowered the entry price. Now getting the shield with a controller and a remote is pretty much knocking $50 off. They removed the microsd slot but you can get a 128GB Sandisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 drive for $28 on Amazon, which is better.
  • The lower prices remote is missing the headphone jack. that's the big issue.
  • I can see why that would annoy some people, but the vast majority of people will most likely never use that feature. I am sure it is great for apartment dwellers with spouses that sleep early, or those that watch tv in bed.
  • It's huge for husband's lol. I have a crazy speaker system in the living room but when the wife goes to sleep I put on my headphones and put that tiny remote in my hoodie pocket and it's awesome. Apple TV let's you use Bluetooth headphones but Android TV does not...sadly
  • Android TV does allow you to connect bluetooth headphones.
  • All the new features are coming to existing Shield TV's later this month, so I'm not seeing a hardware upgrade in my future but I may get a couple more controllers for more family play on MAME.
  • UGH! I was kind of excited for this , since its a much smaller foot print then the 2015 Shield TV [and includes the remote], but Steam still requires Gamestream/Nvidia GPU? UGH!!! Looks like I'll never replace my HTPC box based on AMD tech. The whole reason I bought and immediately returned the 2015 Shield was the requirement for Nvidia GPUs. I just upgraded to the RX480 in my main desktop rig and I typically stream that in home to my living room TV. Oh well, I'll just keep using my Roku Stick 2016
  • There is a Steam app coming out for it as well that will enable amd card users to stream their games.
  • Will be Nvidia-compatible only, just confirmed with a Nvidia rep.
    Also, the new Shield won't have Micro SD/ Micro USB and the Shield Spot is multi directional.
  • Does the new remote have a replaceable battery?
  • It does. They're specific coin cell batteries.
  • On a side note, does anyone here have tried any steering wheel to play Real Racing 3?
    I'm in search for one although I'd like to be sure about it working prior to buying it.
  • Pre-ordered yesterday. Wanted one for a while but was waiting for the next generation. Looks so good - excited!
  • Is this the same awful hybrid drive they used with through model. Also why not at least make it cheaper? Like they did with the K1 tablet.
  • You mean on the "Pro" version with the 500GB HDD? valid complaint I suppose. But if you want more speed you'd probably get the 16GB model and attach a large HDD over USB ... at least the main stuff and OS would be on the fastest internal storage.
  • In the process of having an SSD jury rigged to it.
  • I have the original box but if I get this it's only to upgrade to the Pro version since I only have the 16 GB one now.
  • If you already have the original 16GB ... just plug in an external drive over USB and adopt it.
  • So people like us who already own the Nvidia Shield Android TV should get the Nougat update by Jan 16?
  • Was really hoping for the newer Tegra X2. Would be a tremendous emulation box with the newer chip.
  • Hopefully they fixed that stupid power button. I get tired of turning mine off when the charging cord for the remote touches it.
  • Does anyone know if the HDMI port is HDCP 2.2 certified? I can see this replacing both the FireTV and the Google Home in my living room, but to watch 4k Amazon Prime content, it has to be HDCP 2.2.
  • The original shield TV supports HDCP 2.2 as it runs Netflix in 4k. As the internals of the new shield TV are the same, I assume HDCP 2.2 is still present.
  • HA. It will never watch Amazon Prime content because its a Google TV device and Amazon doesn't want that. Amazon wants you to buy a fireTV. Thats why they dont support chromecast, or currently support Android TV.
  • Nvidia has already announced that the Shield will have an Amazon Video app and will be able to play Amazon 4k content.
  • Nvidia is killing it lately
  • Oops, accidental double post.
  • I'm really excited about Google Assistant on the Shield TV, but I'll need to see how well it works. If you speak into the controller or remote, I would expect that the response will come through the TV. That means leaving your TV on with the Shield as its primary input. If your TV goes to sleep to save power, or you change to another HDMI input, you'lllose the feedback. So, I feel like I'll need a Spot to get the most out of Assistant, as I'm not inclined to leave my TV on 24/7. I'm also assuming that if a Spot hears your command, the response will only come through the Spot's built-in speaker. That's great, but outside of your kitchen, most plugs are located close to the floor, which is not optimal for microphone placement. Of course, you could solve that with a cheap-but-ugly extension cord. Fingers crossed that NVIDIA has considered these issues and has great solutions already in place!
  • Kodi, showbox.. Done.
  • I wonder if it will work with my Harmony remote. My firestick does so I imagine this would too.
  • The Shield Android TV doesn't have an IR receiver, so it'd have to be a remote that has Bluetooth profiles. The Shield Pro (500GB model) does still have an IR receiver though.
  • Things this article didnt mention that I noticed after getting mine and being a long time user of the first gen.
    -The new remote is slightly thicker and feels cheaper (due to more plastics and less metal)
    -The new remote does not need to be charged, it has 2 button batteries that power it.
    -The new Shield has removed the SDCard slot which i had used for ROMs and such.
    -The new Shields footprint is way smaller than the first.
  • The article DID mention the removal of the sd card slot, quote: ".... but one of the room-saving removals is the SD card slot". The article also DID mention the much smaller footprint, quote "....it's roughly 40 percent smaller overall than the original". The article DID mention that the new remote does not need to be charged, quote: "The new remote is similar in design, but is no longer rechargeable ". It didn't, admittedly, mention the "2 button batteries"
    You get 1 1/2 out of 4.
  • Here's another thing the article forgot to mention, specifically for Plex users. If your're intending to use this as a Plex Media Server and you have any kind of a decent collection, you better by the Pro because the PMS stores all of it's metadata on the internal storage ONLY. Even if you add adoptable storage, the PMS doesn't use it. You can quickly run out of internal storage space and run into performance issues; something I only found out AFTER reading this article and buying the 16GB model. This is not a Shield issue, this is totally on Plex and their stupid choice to store the metadata in a secure location instead of elsewhere. Hopefully it will be corrected but Plex seems uninspired to do something about it since it's been going on for months despite loud complaints from PlexPass members. But you should be aware of this and other limitations in running your Plex Server on the Shield.... https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/articles/221099648-Limitations-When-Run...