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.