NVIDIA's devotion to the Shield TV makes it the only Android TV worth buying

My 2015 NVIDIA Shield TV
My 2015 NVIDIA Shield TV (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

A great many Android devices have passed though my hands over the years, from phones to tablets to watches and beyond, but I have to say that beyond a doubt the best Android device I have ever owned is the one that sits in my living room: my 2015 NVIDIA Shield TV.

While my 2015 phones stopped getting updates two or three versions ago, my NVIDIA Shield TV still gets routine updates and is expected to for a while yet. NVIDIA's Android TV experience has consistently beat out every other, single-handedly carrying the Android TV platform as it stagnates on basically every other device.


Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

I spend hours on this box every day, streaming YouTube, Hulu, Funimation and very soon will be streaming hours and hours of Disney+. It entertains me when I'm bored. It keeps me company when I'm writing — well, when it isn't distracting me from writing, that is. Using the NVIDIA Shield 2017 controller (opens in new tab) to joystick through recommended shows and hunt for my favorite episodes is better than any remote I've ever used, and as the next generation of Shield TV devices arrive on store shelves today, I'm going to be recommending it to everyone I know.


Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

NVIDIA brought Android Pie to the Shield TV series — both the 2015 and 2017 models — back in the summer, and when it started breaking things like 4K playback, they diligently worked through the problems and pushed out more updates to get things smooth and properly playing again, on devices that in any other ecosystem would've left users holding the bag.

This robust support is in part possible because NVIDIA is the chipmaker behind the Shield TV's Tegra X1 processor, they aren't as reliant on other companies updating proprietary drivers since that's done in-house. That also means that when things go wrong, as they did during the Pie rollout, NVIDIA can more easily bring in the extra help it needs in troubleshooting and addressing problems.

NVIDIA takes its time and gets it right.

NVIDIA is also more willing to go to Google to work with them on things when the Android TV platform goes awry. When the major changes made to Android TV in Android Oreo flopped with developers, NVIDIA held back on updating the Shield TV. It instead worked with Google to make more improvements that greatly improved the experience for both developers and users before pushing out Oreo in the summer of 2018, when everyone's attention had moved on to Android Pie.

That dedication and persistence makes NVIDIA the only Android TV-maker worth buying right now, and with my 2015 Shield TV still cranking along like an absolute champ, I have no problems at all saying that if you want a streaming console for your older "dumb" TV — or a smart TV that's not living up to its name — then you should absolutely grab yourself the new NVIDIA Shield TV and never look back.

I'll be the first to say I'm not totally sold on the dongle-sized 2019 Shield TV "regular", but I do agree that it's exactly what 85% of Shield TV users need. USB ports are only really useful for old wired controllers or for external hard drives used in Plex media servers, which is a great use for the Shield TV but not one the average user will want to hassle with.

I'm the kind of freak that hordes old videos on a USB drive and will plug it in when I'm feeling nostalgic, but I also know that I'm in the minority when it comes to that sort of old-school digital media keeping. The extra RAM is only really needed when you're playing games, but some of us will always respond to the siren song of MOAR RAM when we have the option.

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

  • Knowing a product like the Nvidia Shield TV that has been supported by the company by constant updates /improvements over the years definitely makes you want to buy their it. That's how a company earns a good reputation and loyal costumers.
  • Something I have yet to see mentioned in any article about the new Shield. Will my old (2017) game controller work with the new Shield or will I need to purchase a new controller?
  • From what I've seen and heard, Yes. Also the new remote will work on the older shields
  • Yes! The old controller works with the new Shield TVs, and the new remote works with the old Shield TVs. You could also use the older remotes with the new Shield TV if you wanted one with a headphone jack.
  • Good news, thanks!
  • I've had a Shield TV on my wishlist for a little while now, here's hoping Santa comes through! :P
  • My 2015 Shield TV was actually a Christmas present from a dear friend. Here's hoping Santa (or Black Friday sales) come through for you, too!
  • I don't quite understand the tube design. It has cables running out of both ends. How would you position this in your entertainment center? The Google cast is a true dongle that can just be attached to the HDMI port and hidden at the back of the TV. All other media players I have seen and used are shaped so that they are part of a flat surface and the cables are all at the back, which can be hidden if you tie them together. This tube won't be small enough to hide behind the TV, but cables from both ends would make it very awkward to be placed near the TV.
  • It's meant to be snaked somewhere out of sight but still in place with enough air flow and good Wi-Fi signal, allegedly.... But I really don't know what mythical position that would be. When in doubt, GO PRO!
  • I agree totally, but unfortunately was unable to spend the money to get the Shield, So I purchased the Second best Android TV Box that deserves more credit than it gets...tada the Xiaomi Mi Box. It runs pretty good and they sold them at Wal-Mart for about 60 bucks generations ago. I still have the first series Mi Box. Do not get me wrong, I plan to buy one of the new Shield TV, just thought Xiaomi should get an honorable mention because these are the only two Android TV devices that are worth using IMO.
  • Did the Mi Box receive much in the way of updates? It still works, but its support life pales in comparison to the Shield.
  • Yes, my mi box still gets updates.
  • I have two OG mii boxes, one bricked and wont get past the loading screen. The other is chugging along in the bedroom rocking out, solid 60 bucks. If my main tv wasnt a sony androidtv I would be getting the dongle...but that dongle is huge and not a dongle it's almost as tall as the shield pro
  • Fully agree. And I strongly believe, Google wanted this to happen in Watch segment as well. They do want to give their partners an opportunity before jumping in and trying to save the day.
  • The shield TV I bought Black Friday of 2015 was one of my best purchases. Still on my main TV and works great. Maybe I'll buy the new remote to replace the fire stick/sideclick combo I've been using for years.
  • My 2015 is running the newest software Nvidia has pushed so you're wrong about it not getting updates. Perhaps yours is a one off but it certainly doesn't represent everyone. I have the 2015 Pro and brand new Pro model for reference.
  • @Ara "hoardes" rather than 'hordes'
  • Android TV is honestly a great platform. What's holding it back is adoption rates. NVIDIA is keeping the flame burning and my heart thump-thumps for them
  • I'm sticking with my 2017 pro model with 512gb internal space, plus SD card slot which the new pro does not have. Sure, I know I can have external drives and do have a 1tb drive I store all my movies on so if I went with the new model, I'd need atlnother external drive for internal storage (I don't use my 1tb drive as adapted internal storage) and do I really want two hard drives connected to the thing? Not really.. but no SD card slot and only 16gb of internal storage is a deal killer for me. I also have a 512gb SD card in my pro 2017.
  • I love my Shield TV and still my Shield tablet, both are working well and any upgrades is most welcome! Thanks NVIDIA for all the support!
  • I wish they still supported the Shield Tablet... I love mine but it could use an update!
  • I just ordered an the latest Shield Pro but as a long time Shield TV owner I really hesitated. That's because while NVIDIA has been diligent in updating the OS and its interface, nobody has bothered to add new Android TV apps. Amazon's Music HD remains unavailable as do many of the more popular Roku channels that would drive further penetration/customer-growth among power users and ordinary users. I have my 2019 Roku Ultras (on 2 of 3 TVs) for Amazon Music HD and several other apps unavailable on my Shield TVs (who are on 3 of 3 TVs). That's what will make the difference in the long term, if NVIDIA can't offer ALL of the apps that streaming customers want then in the long run the platform will be a failure. They need to get off their butts and help content providers develop and market their apps on the Shield. Google won't do it so NVIDIA will have to if they want the Shield to remain relevant in 5 years.