NVIDIA Shield Android TV: Should I buy the new Shield Controller?

This is one of those times. If you have a previous generation NVIDIA Shield TV you totally should buy the new controller. And the reasons are so compelling, I can't think of any use case where you might want to stick to the old controller.

NVIDIA did something that's either crazy or awesome (or a bit of both) with the Shield TV. They offer a new model that's smaller and better looking than the original, but the software that comes with it is also getting pushed to everyone who ever bought one. All the software, including the upcoming debut of Google Assistant for Android TV. That's a good reason to get a new controller even if you never plan to play a single game with it.

The new controller is your gateway to Google Assistant.

The way Assistant will work for the Shield TV centers around the new controller. The microphone can be left in an always-listening state so whenever it hears you say OK Google it goes into an active listening mode and tries to figure out what you said and what it needs to do about it. This is the same way Google Home works. Always listening means it's listening for just the trigger before it does more than monitor the sounds it hears. Once Google Assistant is activated and working the sounds are then processed through the Assistant AI.

The newly revamped controller can stay running and always listening for 14 days between charges. Think of it as a Google Home that's not plugged in, except for 2 hours every fortnight. And it's about half the cost of a Google Home, so if you have a Shield TV it's kind of crazy to not go with it.

What about games‽

If you use your Shield controller to play games, whether you're playing Android games or playing PC games through your Shield TV, you'll like the upgrade here.

The layout hasn't changed. Dual thumbsticks, a D-pad on the left and the four buttons every controller needs on the right are there in just about the same place as you're used to. The new thumbsticks are grippy instead of smooth, the D-Pad is "clickier" and the A B X Y buttons aren't as mushy. The R2 L2 triggers are reworked. And the new body design makes them all more responsive because your hand is slightly repositioned.

It looks funky, but the jagged geodesic pattern isn't jagged at all and feels great when you're holding it.

The Shield controller is built like a bit of a hybrid between the Xbox controller and PlayStation 4 controller. It takes the Xbox controller shape and has the PS4's slimmer but deeper "grips." You get a controller that's easy to hold with three fingers on each side (fingers on bumpers at all times is the only way to play!) without the weird batwing feel because it's shaped like that sweet Xbox controller.

I liked the design of the original so much I use it on my PC for gaming, too. The new model may look like they ruined everything and made a jagged uncomfortable mess with the new geodesic texture but you'll change your mind as soon as you start using it.

I plan on picking up another controller so I can use one with my PC as soon as the GeForce PC suite is updated with full support, which should be very soon.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • I may grab it when the assistant drops for the OG console but I already have a Google Home in that room.... Hmmmmm
  • I've got one, and also Google Home in the same room... lol... problems.
  • I bought it for my 2015 NSTV. I got it for £50 instead of £60, which made the cost more palatable. It was bought for Google Assistant really, but it is so much better in the hand than the 2015 model.
  • Yea, I was instantly impressed by how comfortable it is in the hand compared to the beefy original controller.
  • I wonder how Google Assistant will work when TV is off?
  • I guess it does a lot for $60, but that's still hard to swallow. Still, might get it for the OG Shield TV, but may wait to see how much Google Assistant does on the Shield TV when it launches. I have Google Home, but in the other room. It'd be nice to control the house lights with the Shield TV, but the question is if it's worth a button press or not. If Google Assistance has specific Android TV controls, like volume up/down, playback controls, etc, I'd buy it in an instant. We're already used to controlling the living room with our voice via Kinect.
  • There is One reason to forgo the new Gamepad... The nVIDIA Spot, which will be released 'round the time the Google Assistant arrives. Which IIRC, is not just a Mic, but a Speaker as well.
  • Good point.
  • I'll be honest, while I see articles on here saying it's better, I don't see it, I have the old one I bought with my Shield Tablet, and I have the new one that came with my Shield TV, I prefer the old one both in looks and how it feels when holding and using it, the faceted surfaces on the new ones look ugly and doesn't feel as comfortable to me. The only thing I like better on the new one vs the old one is the D pad.
  • So how well does it work with PC gaming? It's Bluetooth, correct? What games have you\will you use it with? Is it better than the best current offering from logitech?
  • I would have thought much the same way, as the old One... Via USB, this or via a Bluetooth Dongle.
    As to it being better than, a Keyboard & Mouse? Seems doubtful to me. Sadly I don't subscribe to the whole MASTERRACE thing, so I can't really comment on that aspect.
  • Right now if you have a shield tv that's running the latest software and use the controller once with it the controller firmware is updated. With that version of the firmware, it works wired just fine through the GeForce Experience program. It can pair wirelessly and be recognized as a controller but the joystick and D-Pad axis is way off and nobody seems to have found a workaround . We have to wait for the new GeForce Experience. I'm hoping when that happens someone can find a way to strip the controller support out because I hate that program :P I use a controller for Fallout 4, Skyrim, Witcher 3, Borderlands 2 + TPS, and Torchlight 2. The reason I like the Shield controller is because it fits my hands a little better that anything else I've tried. The PS4 controller is good if I spend time and money to mod it with longer sticks and a wider grip but that's a PITA and getting the PS4 controller to work can also be a PITA.
  • Been thinking about it, just for a second controller. You know, 2 player games and such. Meanwhile, the biggest plus in my eyes since it's bluetooth, you should be able to use it on other devices ( I hope ). It would be a great universal controller for use on windows and phones.