Nvidia Shield TV 2017 review: A capable media streamer for gamers

CES 2017 was full of gorgeously thin TVs and cool smart home tech, but it was Nvidia’s second-generation Shield TV that stole the stage. Offering 4K HDR video playback, an on-demand game streaming service, Google Assistant integration and the latest Android TV software, the Nvidia Shield TV 2017 was definitely one to watch. After spending weeks with Nvidia’s new streamer, here’s our Nvidia Shield TV (2017) review. See also: Best media streamers 2017

Nvidia Shield TV (2017) review: UK pricing and availability

Following a CES 2017 announcement, the Nvidia Shield TV (2017) was made available to buy weeks later and can now be purchased from not only Nvidia, but Amazon, John Lewis and other high street retailers too. The £189.99 price tag is £30 more than the original Shield TV was at launch, but when compared to the likes of the £139 32GB Apple TV that doesn’t offer cloud-based game streaming or even a controller in the box, the Shield TV offers a high-end streaming and gaming experience.

It’s also worth noting that unlike with the first-generation Shield TV, the 2017 Shield TV comes with both the Shield controller and remote, although the stand remains an optional accessory available after purchase.  

Nvidia Shield TV (2017) review: Design and build

Before we go into the details of the new Nvidia Shield TV, let’s take a look at its design. While the 2017 Shield TV is almost identical to the 2015 model with an angular design and mix of matte and shiny surfaces for a sleek and sexy look, it’s much smaller than the original. We’re not talking about a few millimetres being shaved off either – the new Shield TV is ­much smaller. Specifically, the new Shield TV measures in at 16 x 9.9 x 2.5cm and only 848g, compared to the 21 x 13 x 2.5cm first-gen Shield TV.

It’s not the only thing that has had a makeover, either. We loved the original Nvidia Shield TV, but we had our reservations about the controller: it was chunky, awkward to hold and wasn’t very comfortable to use over long periods, not ideal for long gaming sessions. Nvidia took this on board and redesigned the controller for the second-generation Shield TV. Featuring an angular design like that of the media streamer, the controller is now slimmer and much, much more comfortable to use than its predecessor.

Unlike the controller, the Shield TV remote looks much the same as the first-generation remote, featuring a button for Google/voice control, and a touch-sensitive volume controller along the central grove of the remote.

Read next: How to set up Steam Link and stream games to your TV

Nvidia Shield TV (2017) review: Features and spec

Unlike the 2015 Nvidia Shield TV, the standard 2017 variant only comes with a single storage option: 16GB, which can be extended only via USB storage. While the first-gen device came with a microSD card slot for users to increase the base storage, it’s one of the few features to have been dropped in the second-gen Shield TV – one of the sacrifices that had to be made to fit all that tech into such a small body. Those looking for extra storage without attaching an external hard drive should opt for the Nvidia Shield Pro, a more expensive version of the media streamer with 500GB of storage.

In terms of features, the flagship feature of the 2017 Nvidia Shield TV is 4K HDR support, which provides incredibly detailed and smooth 60fps video playback from the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Netflix – but only for those that have a HDR-enabled TV. Those without a HDR-enabled TV may struggle to find any real difference in terms of quality when compared to the first-generation Shield TV, which also had a 4K output (and HDR support, thanks to a recent OTA update).

In terms of internals, the first- and second-generation Shield TVs are almost identical. The 2017 model is powered by Nvidia’s own Tegra X1 processor, which Nvidia says is three times more powerful than any other media streamer (including the 2015 Apple TV) on the market and after spending some time with the streamer, we agree. When coupled with a 256-core CPU and 3GB of RAM, the Shield is responsive whether it’s being used to stream the latest series on Netflix or play the latest Android games via Google Play.

One difference from the original Shield TV is improved game streaming. If you’ve got a Nvidia GTX-powered PC at home, you can easily stream your entire game library via LAN to the Shield TV in glorious 4K – if your PC can handle it, that is. The 4K resolution from a maximum output of 1080p HD on the original device, and provides gamers with a crisp TV gaming experience with minimal lag. Sure, there’s a sacrifice to be made in terms of response time, but it’s not bad enough to affect gameplay and makes it much easier to game on a big-screen TV.