Best answer: The NVIDIA Shield TV is still the best Android TV box you can buy in 2021. NVIDIA has done a great job offering software updates that continually make the Shield TV better than before, and the 16GB is a great option for any habitual streamer. So yes, it's absolutely your best bet for an Android TV box.
NVIDIA is still king of Android TV
The NVIDIA Shield TV is a full-featured streaming box that runs on the latest Android TV software. That means it has both Google Assistant and 4K Chromecast functionality built right in, along with a host of other great features. All of that makes the Shield a stand out product.
It also offers the best internal specs and features on a TV streaming box and comes packaged with a sleek remote that includes a built-in microphone for use with the Google Assistant. You can also plug in a keyboard and mouse or connect Bluetooth devices for both gaming or for more mundane things like entering passwords and searching.
On the software side, the Shield TV (2019) ships with Android 9 Pie and NVIDIA has done a good job of keeping the whole product line up to date over the past three years. You'll be able to access the best Android apps developed for the Android TV platform, which includes all the most popular services — YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Spotify and etc. — along with media streaming platforms like Kodi and Plex for those who have their own media collections. Everything is delivered in an easy-to-use user interface that will offer home screen recommendations based on the services and shows you watch.
If the Shield just did streaming really well as it does, it would still be our top pick, but NVIDIA has also equipped the Shield TV with enough processor power for gaming. Not only can you choose from the growing library of games from the Google Play Store, but NVIDIA also has its own library of popular PC games you can download and play, along with the NVIDIA GeForce Now streaming service, which lets you cast your favorite games from your PC to your living room TV.
Are there any limitations?
With the new redesign, NVIDIA moved away from the classic build of the original Shield TV, leaving that for the updated Shield TV Pro (2019). This new tubular design for the Shield TV (2019) offers a much slimmer and lower profile — the tube itself is just marginally larger than the included remote. While this makes it easier to try and tuck away your Android TV, there are some sacrifices.
Gone are the extra USB ports, so you can't hook up an external hard drive to the Shield TV (2019). However, you'll have access to a microSD card slot, which is compatible with any card with the UHS-1 rating and above. The problem here is that flash storage is still much pricier than what you will find with a traditional external hard drive. Nonetheless, the ability to expand the storage on the new Shield TV, even if it's not as much as you may want, is welcome.
One other potential hiderance comes in gaming, as you won't be able to use this to play those special Advanced Android Gaming games. These were designed specifically for the Shield TV but the standard version is not capable of playing this according to NVIDIA.
Do you really need the extra storage?
Those who want the best Android TV experience and primarily rely on streaming services for your media playback needs, will be thrilled with the new Shield TV (2019). You are still provided with the ability to expand storage (albeit limited), and you'll get a built-in Chromecast with 4K playback, Gigabit Ethernet, along with compatibility with Dolby Atmost and Dolby Vision.
All of this makes for an amazing package, but with just 8GB of onboard storage, you'll likely want to pick up a microSD card just to have enough room for your various streaming apps. If you planned on using this as your Plex Media Server, we would recommend spending an extra $50 and grabbing the Shield TV Pro (2019) thanks to the two USB 3.0 ports. The NVIDIA Shield TV can be the anchor to not only your living room entertainment, but also the rest of your smart home devices, thanks to Google Assistant now being fully integrated into the NVIDIA Shield TV's software.
That being said, the NVIDIA Shield TV may be more than a casual streamer actually needs. If you fit that bill, then you may want to consider the latest version of the Amazon Fire TV Cube. When it comes to pitting the NVIDIA Shield TV versus the Amazon Fire TV Cube, both devices do a good job of streaming 4K content, and feature sleek and intuitive smart voice remote. However, the Fire TV Cub doesn't have the same power, and won't appeal to serious gamers.
NVIDIA Shield TV (2019)
Premium Android TV
The NVIDIA Shield TV (2019) gives you the benefits of an updated Android TV interface, along with the new Tegra X1+ chipset and a built-in Chromecast. Unless you plan on using the Shield as a media server, this is the best you can get.
Up the storage
Samsung Evo Select 512GB MicroSD Card
Future proof your Shield
Unlike its predecessor, the NVIDIA Shield TV (2019) relies on microSD cards for storage expansion and with just 8GB onboard, you'll likely run out quickly. Grab this 512GB microSD card from Samsung and make sure you can download everything you want to enjoy later.
Keegan Prosser is a freelance contributor based in the PNW. When she's not writing about her favorite streaming apps and devices for Android Central, she's listening to a true-crime podcast, creating the perfect playlist for her next road trip, and trying to figure out which fitness tracker she should try next. You can follow her on Twitter @keeganprosser.
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