Hands on with the new 2nd-gen NVIDIA Shield TV and new Spot microphone

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” wake word 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.

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56 comments
  1. clocks says:

    I assume it still has a fan?

    • Ichijoe says:

      ~I assume it still has a fan?~

      Like it’s that loud? Hell the HDD makes more noise than the Fan.
      But, seeing that this is virtually identical to the original Shield TV.
      The only glaring omission being the missing Touchpad on the new Controller.
      Which was eventually removed post 1.1 Update, it’s likely not that big of a deal.
      Other than that the only other difference I found was that the new Controller & Remote will be Bluetooth 4.x, and NOT WiFi Direct, as is the case with the current Systems. Which IMHO may well lead to larger problems for those that are too technically challenged to understand that difference.

      • clocks says:

        “~I assume it still has a fan?~

        Like it’s that loud? Hell the HDD makes more noise than the Fan.”

        Wow, sorry for such a silly question!

        • Ichijoe says:

          No it wasn’t a silly question…
          Perhaps I misunderstood understand where you were coming from.
          As I have the Pro version, it is kinda hard to tell how much noise (if any really) is comming from the Fan.

          The HDD make its normal ‘clicks’ as it spin it up which you’d also have to be standing on top of. In a quite Room to hear it but yeah its audible but under normal conditions, your not gonna hear anything.

          • Leonard Mullen says:

            Fans mean the hardware runs hot. If the fan fails, the vents are obstructed, or … well … who knows. It’s a failure opportunity. We all prefer passively cooled iron.

          • clocks says:

            Exactly Leonard. Also, some have pointed out the vents on the new 16gb model are larger. I thought maybe that was done so that the fan could be removed. Nvidia was obviously trying to cut costs on this model with everything they removed.

          • jez says:

            @Leonard, passively cooled means low powered slow performing hardware. PS4, Xbox one and decent GPUs all have fans and they have fans for a reason. Yes vents help but you still need a way to push or pull air through the system to remove heat. If you want a fan less console then stick to ya 16 bit megadrive or some other low end console like the wii.

  2. Ichijoe says:

    So let’s, cut to the chase of it…
    Will we be able to watch The Grand Tour on the Shield now?

    Or to put, it differently… Is Amazon Video = Amazon *Prime* Video?

    • AFTVnews says:

      All of the Amazon content available through the Fir eTV can be accessed through the Amazon Video app on the Shield TV. The app does not seem to be crippled in any way.

      • hdmkv says:

        Did you ask a nVidia rep if the new FTV UI is expected at some point in the future?

        • Joe says:

          Maybe I don’t understand your query, but why would Nvidia care about FTV UI?

          • Ichijoe says:

            At this point Amazon’s take on the Leanback Launcher is IMHO far better than, that of Google’s. I guess it just goes to show how much of a Red-headed Stepchild Android TV really is.

            Christ on a Bike I love the 10ft Interface, over the cheapo China Boxes, but where the fisk are the Apps?!

        • AFTVnews says:

          No I didn’t, but I doubt they would have known about that. You’d be surprised how little the reps know about the products. Many of them, not just NVIDIA, just barely learned about the stuff they’re supposed to show off.

          It was a while after the Fir eTV came out that the smart TV Amazon interfaces started to adapt the Fire TV UI, so I wouldn’t expect it to happen soon.

  3. Matthew says:

    I would love to get my hands on one of those and install my Hyperspin collection.

    • Wedge says:

      Try RetroBoxTV. Be up and running with an app that runs 24 different emulators in one APK. Just add ROMs, map your controller once for all the emulators, and away you go within 5 minutes. None of this faffing around for hours with Hyperspin.

  4. Duder says:

    Which version of Android is it running?

      • Ichijoe says:

        I wonder when… (Or if..), They have any plans on releasing a new Update for the Original Shield TV?

        • Robert B says:

          The press release on the nvidia website states that all the new features are coming to the older devices via an update. The only cravat is Ok, google you need the new controller for that.

          • Ichijoe says:

            Yes… I kinda already knew that… But let’s be honest for a second here. Nougat was already promised to release on Shield TV since last Summer… (At a latter Date). It’s now early 2017.

            If the Mics weren’t known to be listing 24/7 sending god knows what else back to nVidia, Google, and Five Eyes I might be somewhat more interested.

            As it is though oddly enough I’m not into the whole IoT Coffee Makers, and Hairbrushes (Which was also revealed at this Year’s CES.

  5. Andrroid says:

    It looks like they removed the Nvidia Row entirely. Is the gamestream app still there or is all gamestreaming done via the Steam app now? Is there still a separate shield game store?

  6. Ichijoe says:

    Am I the only One here, that’s like the Guy who designed that Wall Socket Mic needs to be taken ’round back, and shot? Really, chrome plate on an Electrical Plug?! WTF were these People smoking? And HTF did it manage to pass UL testing?

    • AFTVnews says:

      I probably shouldn’t have called it chrome, since I don’t know if it’s actually metal because they didn’t let anyone touch them. Probably not metal. Regardless, it’s fugly as hell.

      • Ichijoe says:

        Fully? Yes. Metal? Probably though nothing solid I suspect. I would imagine it’s the same kind of plastic chrome plated that IKEA use on their plastic (Handle) Metal Silverware. The kind that eventually cracks after a few trips to the Dishwasher. And is sharp enough to cut you when it does.

        Either way I can’t help thinking DEATH TRAP! when I see it.

  7. Taurus says:

    Question?

    Is the New Controller WiFi or Bluetooth?

  8. sunrise495 says:

    Do we still not know what the hardware config. is? Is the older model still more powerful? Inquiry minds want to know.

  9. Derrick says:

    For my needs the Shield is massive overkill.

    • clocks says:

      “For my needs the Shield is massive overkill.”

      For most people it is.

      • Ichijoe says:

        Depends… If you want a decent low power Box, that can play decent, Games and Emulators than the Sheild is about the only game in Town. The Plex Media Server is like an extra layer of Icing on the proverbial Cake.

        But, having just gotten into this Game (albeit late), I find myself in a love hate relationship with AndroidTV.

        Love – The huge 10′ Interface. Heck even surfing with Chrome on the TV was just that once almost even an enjoyable experience. I suspect that a Logitech K400 would round out the final corners I’d have with the crappy way the OSD Keyboard works.

        Hate – The simple fact that the Play Store (e.g. Germany), is a virtual Ghost Town of about 20 or so Apps… Though the Games Dept. Is thankfully a bit more packed. It’s nothing short of depressing, this lack of enthusiasm of this Branch of Android coming out of Google.

        But, as long as nVidia otherwise continue to support the Shield TV, than I say Overkill is a good thing!

        • pmcd says:

          I really have a love hate relationship with Android TV, Google TV, etc… Have had them all since the Logitech unit. Far, far prefer both the Fire TV and the Apple TV, but there is something really neat and irresistible about the Shield TV to the point where am awaiting V2. I wish I could explain it as Android TV has hardly ever lived up to its promise.

  10. Grinder says:

    Another crap remote with too few buttons. One thing Amazon almost gets right if it weren’t for the horrible wifi latency and lack of programmable buttons (making clunky retrofits like Sideclick desirable).

    Nvidia has its head up its arse. Why would you buy this for gaming instead of a proper console? Answer: as a media centre. So give it a decent media remote.

    • clocks says:

      Yes, it’s as if Android boxes are required to come with shitty remotes. FTV remote is the best out there IMO. I used one back when I owned a sheild, and I use one of my current Mi Box.

  11. Eric says:

    Can’t seem to get a straight answer anywhere. Does the 16GB version still have an IR sensor like the previous generation for integration with harmony remotes?

    • Ichijoe says:

      Yes according to this Site: http://koditips.com/new-nvidia-shield-tv-2-kodi-specs-buy/
      It’ll have the same if receiver as the old version.

      • Eric says:

        But I think only the 500gb version has the ir receiver, not both models.

        • Ichijoe says:

          No it’s on both the Specs give (above), are strictly for the Shield TV2 (16Gb), the Specs for the Shield TV2 (500Gb), should be revealed at a latter date.

          The only thing the original 16Gb lacked over the 500Gb was the physical connection to use a HDD/SSD, as it was missing the Caps, and connectors.
          This new Shield TV is also reported to be ~40% smaller than the original as well.

          This why I dub this thing (to borrow a turn from S0NY) the Shield TV Slim, and Lite. There really isn’t very much anything new to see here.

  12. NashGuy says:

    If you want a streamer that has apps for Amazon Video, Google Play Movies & TV, VUDU (with access to UltraViolet purchases) and YouTube (with resolutions above 720p), you have exactly two choices: Roku and the Nvidia Shield Android TV.

    Fire TV does not have the last three of those four. Other Android TV streamers (Mi Box, AirTV Player, Nexus Player) and Chromecast do not have Amazon Video. Apple TV only offers YouTube with 1080p (but not UHD or HDR) from the list.

    When you combine those factors along with the pretty solid and growing list of other Android TV apps, plus support for UHD, HDR10 and 24p, plus the games available, plus its integrated Plex Media Server capability, plus the powerful new hands-free Google Assistant, plus various add-on solutions to become a full-fledged OTA DVR, I’d say the Nvidia Shield Android TV has to rank as the all-around #1 streamer on the market.

    • Masterblaster says:

      Finally someone who understands why we buy the Shield.
      Plus it has ir for Harmony remotes and it can see external drives as internal.
      The added horsepower and software support makes it set for the future.

      • Ichijoe says:

        But, the joke is the Hardware (e.g. the Tegra X1), is a nearly 3yo SoC now.
        3 Years since it was probably developed, nearly 2 Years since its original release on the first Sheild.

        This from a Company that throws out high-end GPS to the curb every 12 weeks, and this is the best they can do?

        • NashGuy says:

          I understand the criticism of not updating the SoC but, honestly, given how much more powerful the original Shield TV is than every other streamer on the market currently on the market even today, there just really wasn’t any need for more computational power (unless you’re wanting it for more demanding games, but in that case, Nvidia is doing the hard work in the cloud, not locally). The one hardware advancement I was really hoping to see in the updated Shield TV was support for Dolby Vision, which does require a specific chip. Maybe in the next iteration…

      • pmcd says:

        But isn’t the ir receiver gone in V2? In any case the Harmony hub based remotes work fine.

        • Ichijoe says:

          According to nVidia’s own Spec Sheets, yes it’s gone, along with the USB OtG Port. (Makes you wonder how your supposed to get it into Recovery Mode now? Perhaps with a Male to Make Type A USB Cable?

  13. John says:

    Can you turn off the always listening mic on the game controller?

  14. Mike Loftus says:

    “OK AFTVNEWS” what are the Processor and the RAM specs of the new Nvidia Sheild 2…

    • Ichijoe says:

      The same as on the Original… In fact One could say Exactly the same. As in the same Tegra X1 SoC, with the same amount of RAM, which would be Three Gigabytes.

      The only thing new about this is that it’s about ~40% smaller than the Original, and comes with a lot less. i.e. NO: USB OtG, IR Receiver. Which is kinda lame IMHO.

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