I got a chance to see and play around with the new NVIDIA Shield TV that was announced at CES. Here’s initial hands on impressions of the first Android TV streaming device that comes with an Amazon Video app.
The hardware itself looks exactly like the previous generation Shield TV, but just shrunken down. Around back is a
USB type-c proprietary port for power, an ethernet jack, an HDMI port, and a pair of USB 3.0 ports. Gone is the micro SD card slot found on the previous model, but the USB ports do support external drives for expanding the internal storage. At the top is a sizable vent opening to dissipate heat from the powerful chips inside.
First impressions of the new game controller are that it’s a huge improvement over the pervious version. It’s very light and sleek in the hand and just overall feels great to use. The edgy exterior is not sharp and you hardly notice that it’s not smooth.
The new controller is powered by a non-replaceable internal battery that is charged through a micro USB port on the top. You can use the controller while it’s plugged in and being charged if you run out of juice mid-game. The shoulder triggers and bumps felt very nice with just the right amount of springiness. NVIDIA knows how to make gaming hardware and it shows with this new controller.
The game control’s microphone is always listening for the “OK Google” keyword and will respond to voice commands without needing to press the microphone button. The controller has a small touchpad at the bottom center that is used strictly for volume control. The controller has a built in IR blaster that can power on your TV and adjust its volume.
Tucked at the bottom of the game controller is a 3.5mm headphone jack for private listening. It’s slightly recessed, so cables with an angle connector may have trouble clearing the edges.
The remote control was unfortunately not out to actually try. I’m told it’s body is now made of plastic instead of metal like the previous model. The remote cannot listen for the “OK Google” command, so you must press the mic button to use voice commands with the remote.
NVIDIA will also being selling the Spot, which is an external microphone that extends the Shield TV’s listening range. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to try the spot, but it is always listening for the “OK Google” trigger command for it to start listening for other commands. The Spot plugs directly into a power outlet and has a mirror chrome exterior around back and fabric cover up front. I’m not personally a fan of the decision to go with a chrome finish, but at least the front half is a flat black.
There’s really not much to say about the interface or software of the new Shield TV. It’s your standard implementation of Android TV, apart from the exclusive Amazon Video app, which I covered thoroughly in a separate article.