Hands on with the Amazon Video app on the new NVIDIA Shield TV

I just had some hands on time with the new 2nd-gen NVIDIA Shield TV that was just revealed last night at CES. Seeing how it’s the first Android TV streaming box to have an official Amazon Video app, I jumped immediately into the app to have a look around.

Not surprisingly, the Amazon Video app on the NVIDIA Shield TV looks exactly like the old Fire TV interface. Amazon has been using this interface in their pre-installed standalone smart TV apps for some time. The app’s home screen has a large assortment of various video lists and collections to help highlight and uncover different videos available from Amazon. Amazon original shows and Prime Video content is definitely higher on the list of rows, but as you travel down the screen, more and more non-Amazon specific content starts to be highlighted.

Amazon Channels, the add-on subscription service available from Amazon that allows you to increase your available content through individual subscriptions, is fully accessible from the Amazon Video app. This means that, not only is Amazon Video now available on an Android TV device, but many other streaming networks and collections that were previous not on Android TV yet can now be accessed on the platform through the Amazon Video app.

Since the new Shield TV is a 4K UHD device with HDR support, Amazon own library of 4K content is highlighted near the top of the home screen. The selection of this next-gen content is still fairly slim, but it’s growing steadily with every passing month.

The reason why Amazon has not released an Amazon Video app into the Google Play Store for all Android TV devices is they don’t want to be forced to give Google 30% of all purchases done through the app. You’ll be happy to hear that, unlike the Amazon Video app in the iOS store, the one on the Shield TV does fully support purchasing and renting content from within the app. You can even start Amazon Channel subscriptions or a Prime membership.

This Amazon Video app is able to allow purchasing from within the app because it comes pre-installed on the NVIDIA Shield TV. By not going through the Google Play Store, Amazon does not have to use Google’s payment method, which means they avoid Google’s forced 30% cut. You can see in the message above that customers are instructed to go directly to Amazon to setup their payment method. It’s possible that Amazon and NVIDIA have arranged some sort of revenue share for purchases made through the app, but Google is cut out of the transaction.

I’m not sure if it’s related to the app not coming from the Google Play Store or not, but the search function within the app does not seem to support voice searching. At the very least, there is certainly no access to Alexa from within the Amazon Video app, like you have on Fire TV devices. I also didn’t see Amazon content appear when searching through the Shield TV’s home screen, nor did I see Amazon Videos come up in the list of recently played content on the Shield TV’s home screen. It’s possible these two integration aspects are present but just not working on the demo floor.

Overall, the Amazon Video app on the new NVIDIA Shield TV is a very sufficient substitute for Amazon customers who prefer Google’s approach to streaming media devices, but don’t want to give up access to Amazon’s content. There’s still no better Amazon Video experience than the one found on the Fire TV or the new Fire TV Edition televisions, but this new Android TV app will certainly get the job done.

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44 comments
  1. clocks says:

    Hope the Mi Box gets Prime video.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Xiaomi would need to work with Amazon and install it via a software update because it doesn’t look like it’s going to be in the Play Store. Might be able to sideload the Shield TV version.

      • Jim says:

        > Might be able to sideload the Shield TV version.

        I would not think that is going to work longer term unless Amazon changes their approach/tactics. Amazon has consistently tried to insure that sideloading the Sony Android TV version of the Amazon Instant Video apk on other devices would not continue to work by making changes to the app or their services.

  2. Keith says:

    Ive liked Nvidia Android TV since I first watched a demo but never bought one because
    1. Other people in my house are used fire tv interface
    2. You had to sideload Amazon video.
    So this kinda changes things. Plus its quite an upgrade in the gaming department.

  3. Jaremy says:

    Does it look nice? Like sharp and high resolution? Unlike the Roku app where things are fuzzy and lower quality assets being displayed?

    Does it show the resolution at the bottom of the current stream?

    Does it mark watched content in the UI with the full progress bar? The Roku app no longer does this.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Images in the app did seem a bit softer than on the Fire TV, but it could just be my dog tired eyes. The network connection was pretty bad, so I can’t comment on the quality of the video since it hardly ever hit 4K on the show floor. Sorry, I didn’t notice if it said the resolution. I feel like if it were there I would have noticed it, but since I can’t recall if it were there, then it likely wasn’t. Don’t know about the progress thing.

  4. tech3475 says:

    “The reason why Amazon has not released an Amazon Video app into the Google Play Store for all Android TV devices is they don’t want to be forced to give Google 30% of all purchases done through the app.”

    That’s a poor reason when you consider that the console version (at least the Xbone) are able to get around this by not allowing purchases on the console itself and instead you have to use the website.

    That said, I’m guessing Amazon would prefer this kind of deal since allowing purchases would likely increase the chance of people paying.

    • Taco Monster says:

      It’s also a poor reason because the Kindle and Audible apps let you make purchases inapp without giving Google any cut.

    • Kawshik Ahmed says:

      Google now takes only 15% revenue from VOD’s not 30%

    • AFTVnews says:

      Sure, Amazon could have released a crippled app for Android TV with no direct purchasing long ago, but I’m guessing they held out specifically to make deals like this one with NVIDIA to pre-install the app and bypass Google all together. Had they released a crippled app into the Play Store and then approached NVIDIA to pre-install a better version, NVIDIA would have less to gain from it and probably want more out of the arrangement for themselves.

      • Y2Bogus says:

        Couldn’t they just release a downloadable app that you could sideload, like they do with the Amazon App store on Android phones?

  5. Andrroid says:

    How was navigating it? Smooth experience? The sideloaded app is still a bit input laggy.

    Additionally, did you happen to see if the Netflix app has been moved down to be with the other apps?

    • AFTVnews says:

      The app was very smooth. When scrolling lower and lower it seemed to take a bit longer to load rows, but nothing annoying or anything. Not as snappy as the Fire TV, that’s for sure, but I definitely wouldn’t call it laggy.

      As seen in the first image above, Netflix was the first app and Amazon was second.

  6. James says:

    Hey Elias,

    Do you know if the app will support multiple countries? The current leanback app (sideloaded) doesn’t show the proper content for Canadian Prime members and I’m wondering if they will address this issue with the new official app.

    Thanks as always!

  7. Alan Devine says:

    Can you confirm it actually supports Amazon in HDR and not just 4k?

    • Andrroid says:

      All HDR content is in 4K.

      • Alan Devine says:

        That wasnt the question, infact the reverse of your statement was the question, and is the problem. Amazon offer HDR content but their own Fire TV units cannot ouput HDR. I wanted to ensure nVidia’s can with the Amazon app specifically. Marketing wise, I’m sure some in Amazon would rather cripple the App until their own hardware gets updated with HDMI 2.0 / HDR support.

        I see AFTVnews replied at least confirming Nvidia is claiming HDR on Amazon.

        • AdaptDaBuLL says:

          I came down to the comments to find out the answer to this question, so thanks for asking it. I just recently discovered how strange it is that Amazon markets HDR videos when their own flagship hardware (Fire TV Gen 2) does not even support it.

          Even after talking with an Amazon rep on the phone while trying to get HDR to display through the Fire TV, not once did the rep inform me that the device isn’t even compatible. I had to dig around to discover that on my own. Now I’d rather not have to sell the Fire TV and buy a Roku if my first gen Shield TV will get the update.

          Also, when discussing the “NEW Shield TV” it is said to have 4K and HDR support. Doesn’t the first gen Shield TV share the same distinction?

    • AFTVnews says:

      NVIDIA reps specifically told me it plays Amazon HDR content in 4K. I don’t remember seeing any indication that the streams playing were HDR, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t. I haven’t seen enough HDR content to be able to spot it myself.

  8. Kawshik Ahmed says:

    Correction: Nvidia SHIELD is not the first ‘Android TV’ device with Amazon Video. Sony and Philips Smart TV’s also have Amazon Video.
    SHIELD is the fiirst Android TV powered STB with Amazon Video.

  9. Alex says:

    Quite a few misconceptions about Android TV here. Like one commenter mentioned, this is not the first AndroidTV device with Android Video, and in fact the Sony TV APK has worked on the original model of the Shield for quite a few months now. 2. Why would Alexa be present on AndroidTV, it has Google Search and now the Google Assitant, but it is up to Amazon to incorporate that as well into the app. They clearly decided against full integration with Android TV. 3. I’m not really sure what channels you are referring to that Amazon now brings with this app. PBS Kids, HBO Now, Starz, etc are all already separate apps within the AndroidTV ecosystem and the others listed are all castable. Does AndroidTV have a ways to catch up with FireTV in terms of apps, yes, but outside of Prime Videos, I don’t see the huge addition.

    • AFTVnews says:

      I didn’t expect Alexa to be present or anything, but since I mentioned there’s no voice input for search, I just figured I’d be extra specific that there’s no Alexa capabilities at all in the app, incase someone was curious.

      All Amazon Channels are available through the app and there are now over 100 channels. Some of those are not in the Play Store for Android TV as standalone apps.

  10. Robert Simandl says:

    The Amazon app coming preinstalled on the new Shield as a way of getting around Google’s payment requirements has me wondering if the app will or won’t be made available for the 1st-gen Shield. I was hopeful before reading this, now not so much.

    • NashGuy says:

      I would bet that the next system update from Nvidia for existing Shield TVs will automatically install the new Amazon Video app.

      BTW, the app looks just as the same as the one that came pre-installed on my LG OLED TV. It’s pretty snappy and looks fine, although it keeps forgetting the TV picture settings tied to the app (a bug that’s been around for months but which Amazon fails to fix). It’s also frustratingly slow to ramp up to full video quality when beginning a stream, even though my ethernet connection is plenty fast, even for UHD.

      It would be nice if Amazon cared as much about the quality of their software for other platforms beside Fire TV but they really don’t. They’re just not playing in the same league as Netflix at all when it comes to software quality, UI/UX, etc.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Like NashGuy said, it’ll likely be installed with a software update.

  11. DotWin says:

    Does the official Amazon Video App support surround sound (Dolby Digital 5.1) on the NVIDIA Shield?
    Thanks in advance!

  12. Robert Simandl says:

    Nice to see the 4K content is at the top and easy to find.

    Even on the 4K-capable Fire TV, you have to scroll nearly all the way to the bottom to find the 4K stuff. They do NOT make it easy.

  13. King Nothing says:

    I wonder how you will be able to add or remove something to your watchlist.

    On the Sony TV App you use one of the colored buttons on the TV’s remote … The functions of the buttons are explained at the bottom.

    On one of the screenshots here I can only see a little triangle at bottom left for going back, but no symbols or buttons for adding something to watchlist.

    I really hope managing (not only showing) watchlist is possible in the app, so I don’t have to do it in the tablet app like I have to now with the sideloaded Sony app?

  14. MrKaon says:

    Amazon Video is available in Google Play Store, but in selected devices and regions:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.avod.thirdpartyclient&hl=en_GB

    I guess Shield TV is one of them.

  15. casey chesnut says:

    Was super excited about the Amazon Video app for Nvidia Shield, but it could use some work.
    Scrolling down the side menu doesn’t update the main view. Have to manually select a side item to update the main view. Makes discovering content difficult.
    And the select button isn’t working for a paired Amazon Fire TV Stick remote (without voice). Having to use the nvidia shield remote (or gamepad) with it.
    Plus I miss Alexa :(

  16. Brian says:

    So I see a lot of questions about getting Prime Video on the Shield to play higher resolution… but what about getting it to play lower quality? My cable company implements a monthly allowance so towards the end of each month I definitely don’t want to be streaming the highest possible quality. Is there any way to change this? I can’t seem to find anywhere to do that other than the Prime Video app on my phone which only affects the quality “on my phone” and not the shield (as a global account setting)

  17. Robert Simandl says:

    Audio on the Amazon app seems a bit flaky. I started playing an episode of Arrow and it was only playing in stereo (spread to surround by my Pro Logic decoder). I stopped the episode, restarted the Shield, went to the Amazon app, and fired up that same episode, and it played in 5.1 channel Dolby Digital Plus. I hadn’t changed any settings. Insert Twilight Zone music here.

  18. Jay Rose says:

    The Amazon Prime update is regional and will not install outside four countries (US, UK, Germany, and Austria). Just received confirmation from Nvidia tech support. Anybody have the apk to sideload?

    • Ranjit Reddy says:

      You are mistaken ! I’m from India.

      Amazon app is actually hidden post nougat update.. Once you have updated to the latest operating system please go to settings.. Go to application permissions and scroll down to the bottom of the page.. You will see another option that says “show system apps”.. click on “show system apps” and the next page will show Amazon video right on top…. click on allow permissions tab… Go out of settings and restart the device and in a minute post restarting you would see the Amazon video app on your app drawer

  19. formula586 says:

    Does anybody know if the amazon video app for the Nvidia shield tv supports downloading the videos?

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