What the new Nintendo Switch means for future Nvidia Shield TV models

A new Nintendo Switch game console was announced this morning that swaps the 6.2-inch LCD screen on the existing model for a 7-inch OLED screen, among other upgrades. If you’re unaware, Nintendo Switch models are closely tied to Nividia Shield TV models because they are the two primary consumer devices that use Nvidia Tegra X1 processors. When Nintendo announced new Switch models in 2019, it was only a short time later that new Shield TV models appeared. Here’s what today’s announcement of a new top-end Nintendo Switch model might mean for future Nvidia Shield TV models.

As a quick refresher, Nvidia announced its Tegra X1 processor in early 2015 alongside the announcement of the first device that will use it, the Shield TV streaming media player running Android TV, which was released a few months later. A slightly refreshed Shield TV was announced at the start of 2017 with the same Tegra X1 processor and no hardware improvements. A few days later, the Nintendo Switch was announced with the same Tegra X1 processor, starting the link between the two devices.

In mid-2019, Nintendo announced a new Switch Lite console and a very minor hardware revision to the regular Switch. Both devices would be powered by a new Tegra X1+ processor, which Nivida claimed to be “up to 25% faster” than the existing X1 processor, even though that claim didn’t pan out in most real-world use cases. A few months later, Nvidia announced the 2019 Shield TV and 2019 Shield TV Pro, which are still the latest models today. Both 2019 Shield TV models are powered by the same Tegra X1+ processor in the two 2019 Nintendo Switch models.

Nintendo has now announced the first new Switch since 2019 and, unfortunately, Nintendo has confirmed that it will have the same Nvidia Tegra X1+ processor as the existing Switch. If the new Nintendo Switch had a new processor, that would have been a strong indicator that a new Shield TV might be on the horizon, given how the processors in the two devices have always been in sync. For those curious, the only upgrades on the new Switch are the 7-inch OLED screen, built-in Ethernet on its dock, double the internal storage from 32GB to 64GB, and an improved kickstand.

Obviously, there’s still a possibility that Nividia will significantly update the Shield TV this year, despite Nintendo’s decision to stick with the same processor. Nividia has consistently updated the Shield TV in some way every 2 years (2015, 2017, and 2019) so they are certainly due to update it again later this year or early next year. However, given how COVID has delayed or postponed the release of so many things, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see a new Shield TV model until late 2022. If there is a new Shield TV released this year, I expect it will be a very minor update, akin to that of the 2017 refresh, where hardware remains the same, including the use of the same Tegra X1+ processor.

16 comments
  1. hdmkv says:

    To be honest, Shield TV is powerful enough for local media playback, online streaming, and native + retro gaming. nVidia have been great supporting it, and Shield TV remains one of the best players for serious Home Theater use. The only other player I have is a Zidoo for 3D playback.

  2. Adam says:

    It is, but the generational improvements between models are significant, if not groundbreaking. For instance, in the jump from the 2017 to 2019 models, users gained native Dolby Atmos decoding, Dolby Vision support and Nvidia’s excelent (imo) AI supported upscaling. They also got the dramatically improved (again, imo) “toblerone” remote, although this last one can be purchased for use by 2017 and 2015 users.

    On an earlier model without these improvements, you won’t necessarily feel like you’re missing anything special since, as you said, the earlier devices are more than adequate to the task. But then you do notice how nice the new features you’ve been missing are when you actually experience them on a new device.

    This is assuming you have hardware to support it of course. But then, if you do, you’ll definitely feel like you’re missing something if you have a hardware capability that the streaming device just doesn’t support.

    And it must be pointed out, much to Nvidia’s credit, that their earliest Shields, from way back in 2015, are still getting the same full featured firmware updates that the newest Shield devices are getting in 2021. Can’t say that for a lot of other devices out there.

    On the downside, this means that the 2015 and 2017 users are also now getting the ad riddled interface that 2019 owners are getting.

    • hdmkv says:

      Both 2017 and 2019 models support ATMOS & DTS:X. DV as you pointed out is only on 2019.

      The recent introduction of ads is unfortunate, but it’s Google doing this to Android TV OS, not nVidia. There are positives w/the new UI in it being cleaner (except for the ads) and the Apps tab easier to access, and showing all apps better. Still, thinking of switching to Wolf Launcher.

      • Adam says:

        They support Atmos passthrough, not decoding. Only 2019 has Atmos decoding.

        As to Nvidia being powerless over this ads being present in the launcher, something they themselves haven’t claimed to my knowledge, the fact that lots and lots of phone manufacturers use Google Android and are able to alter the UI and the launcher to their hearts content puts quite a bit of lie to that notion.

      • Adam says:

        BTW, what do you think of your Zidoo? I had never heard of them before your post and was intrigued by the little I found on them. These actually look pretty cool, perhaps the over engineered streaming box us Shield owners were actually looking for.
        What OS do they run? Amazon doesn’t appear useful for this info. What model do you have? How do you think it compares to the Shield as a general purpose streaming device for home theater users? Thoughts on the longevity of their software support?

        As to the question of a third party launcher on the Shield, I think I’ve stumbled upon a viable option. FLauncher is a brand new open source project on Gitlab and is instalible from the Google Play store.
        Wolf is definitely intriguing, and is probably a perfectly acceptable solution to the current Shield launcher ad issue, but I don’t like that it isn’t available on the Google Play store or alternatively available as reviewable source code on a GIT. Same with the Launcher Manager from TechDoctorUK.
        Probably all perfectly legit, but I really don’t like the concession of letting one or two apps with those particular characteristics onto my network behind the firewall.
        ATV Launcher Pro might have fit the bill, but it hasn’t been updated since mid 2019, IOW near abandoned, if not actually so.
        With the Shield’s handy native ability to map the menu button (tap, long press, and double tap) to various functions, specifically including “Launch app…”, the need to have a launcher be the “default” launcher through ADB or some other hacky means is rendered pretty much academic.
        With FLauncher on the mapped button, I can effortlessly launch into my adfree launcher at any point, and then automatically return to it upon exiting whatever streaming app I leave.
        IOW, with FLauncher, assuming it continues development and doesn’t break like ATV Launcher reportedly has, I’m good with the new Shield interface with Google TV ads.
        I can effectively ignore it.

  3. TechyChris says:

    ***DISCLAIMER***
    Before Anyone’s Blood Pressure Goes UP, the following is simply MY OPINION, which I am entitled to (and we are literally on a website called AFTVnews!)
    I am constantly amazed at the loyalty Shield owners have for their devices. But… I simply do not understand why the Shield is perpetually compared to other Android TV devices because in my opinion it should not be for one simple reason: COST. The Shield is 4 TIMES the price (minimum) of the majority of streaming boxes (Apple excluded – Apple users are a whole other conversation)). It does not fit the same business model as Google or Amazon. Let’s call it it what it is and reclassify: A “small form factor computer” that happens to run Android as it’s OS and it’s priced accordingly. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re fine machines but the constant comparisons to Fire TV’s, Chrome Casts and MiBox to make them seem “Superior” is ridiculous. A Corvette SHOULD be faster than a Malibu because it’s 4 TIMES the price! The Fan Boys on Reddit are quick to denigrate every other streaming box in completely unwarranted comparisons. Let the Shield stand on it’s own, no need to put it on a false pedestal. I KNOW I’ll take heat for this post (Shield owners are a fiery bunch) but for those who are just putting their toes into the streaming world they should know both sides to this debate. One last thought that I’ve always found curious, most Shield owners, at least on Reddit, only speak in terms of owning ONE device when they attempt to justify the cost. I don’t know about anyone else but I currently have 4 Fire TV’s in my home, I suspect many folks have more than one. I would need 4 Shields if I were “ALL IN”, do that math. It comes down to whether they are “worth the cost”, for most household’s I say no.

    • hdmkv says:

      Not a fanboy of any device (don’t get fanboy-ism anyway), but Shield is worth the premium (2019 version) because it checks most of the boxes for the ideal all-in-one home theater box… horsepower, proper framerates/switching, HDR/DV, full HD audio & premium apps.

      Love that Fire TV devices are cheap(er), but they fall short for home theater use. For general use, they’re great, and I have a bunch connected to TV’s around the house.

      But, Zidoo’s latest players have better video processing using Dolby’s VS10 engine, where if you have a HDR10 only display (projector, as in my case), you still benefit from DV (vs standard HDR fallback). Plus, Zidoo still supports 3D, but has poor or no support for premium apps.

      So, there is no one player that does it all, and will likely never be.

    • Blindly lumping the Shield TV with all other streaming devices, as many people do, is definitely silly. You can’t just ignore the cost when a $24 (on sale) Fire TV Stick 4K has nearly the same streaming capabilities as the $129 (on sale) Shield TV.

      As for classification, many people don’t know (or have forgotten) that the Shield TV (back then just called the Shield) launched as an Android Game Console, not a streaming box. The standard configuration included only a game controller and the remote was an optional $50 accessory. It failed miserably as a game console so Nvidia rightfully pivoted it into a streaming box by swapping the game controller for a remote. While it does a great job as a streaming box, it comes with the fat of being a game console first so buyers have to pay for the extra performance that most people will never use.

      The Shield TV is great, but it’s too much of a niche product to include it whenever streaming devices are discussed. That’s going to become more and more true now that there are finally good sub-$50 Android TV devices available, with more on the horizon.

      • hdmkv says:

        For streaming capabilities, yes, but for dedicated HT use, Shield is designed to support local media playback in all its glory. Not that Fire TV Cube in particular couldn’t do similar (h/w wise) & be a lower cost alternative, but Amazon doesn’t care/want to support local media, instead pushing us to Prime & rent/buy content options. While nVidia probably doesn’t have as much to profit from content cuts from providers.

      • spiffyone says:

        I think the whole “set top box gaming” angle was hurt, in large part, due to lack of killer Shield only games and unique offerings in terms of gameplay not found on fuller fledged game consoles in addition to the initial price point ($299 for the Pro, iirc) having placed it more squarely in competition with PS4 and XBO. I wonder if it would have fared any better just having the $199 and maybe doing the whole motion control thing that was inexplicably nigh abandoned even though it still had some cachet with casual players.
        There may have been a market there, of sorts, for an inexpensive casual gaming box that could also appeal to core gamers as a secondary box, but we’ll likely never know going forward because those sub-$25 (on sale) streaming sticks can support streaming gaming services that, while experiencing growing pains now, will get better as time (and investment) continues.

    • mrvco says:

      The Shield has always seemed like the logical Android counterpart to the Apple TV rather than a direct competitor to the more budget-friendly and, for most folks, more than adequate sub-$100 OTT devices.

      I have the 2019 Shield TV (not the Pro) and it works fine. I’m just not sure what the ask is with regards to an update or what the current models are missing that could be satisfied with updated hardware.

      It’s not like Apple set the OTT device world on fire with their rather modest (remote aside) Apple TV 4K update this year. It doesn’t seem like hardware is the limiting factor for OTT devices currently, but mostly the UI/UX.

  4. Drew says:

    the one thing left out of this conversation that has been a sharp thorn in the side of many home media consumers is storage limitations.how is it the Nvidia Shield 2015 and 2017 Pro Models come with a whopping 500GB internal storage,and yet the pro model in 2019 maxes out at 16GB internal storage.it’s a travesty at bestthe Google Chromecast what’s Google TV only has a 4GB of internal storagethat should be a laughingstock but instead we put up with itsame with fire stick usersit’s so my point is it is disingenuous to say that the bottom line cost is so much cheaper for these knock off Android TV devicesbecause if you’re honest with yourself that means you have to buy external storage devices adapters USB 3.0 adapters ethernet adapters Gaming controllers in order to utilize awesome additions such as stadia Luna andNvidia Shield GeForce nowas well as Xbox game pass and hopefully soon PlayStation NowI hope that in the next version of an Nvidia Shield the execs get their heads out of their you know what and actually include an internal SD card that is a raging fast and capable of at least a couple terabytesthat would be sweet. as for Amazon Fire TV devices well I like their functionality but deep down I know that it is truly a disgrace what they’re doing because they’re so much more capable in the crap that they are producing for us. for example the Fire TV cube is a joke. that is price guy but I don’t hear anybody complaining about that let’s get some storage people oh yeahsnap into a Slim Jim. Also Amazon let’s get some Android support for Luna otherwise you will be cast into the graveyard of video game streaming

    • Adam says:

      I think the days of relying on internal storage for “Home media use” are long, long gone.

      Anyone streaming local media needs to use a NAS, or an increasingly small number of equivalent solutions, or go home.

      The cost to terabyte advantage of a NAS over internal storage is just way, way too out of whack for anything else to be the case.

    • The Brain says:

      Chromecast with Google TV has 8 GB internal storage.

      Only a major fraction of that, 5 GB, is available for the user, but that is that case with all other devices too.

  5. John c says:

    Nvidia won’t upscale 60 FPS on the tube model,only shield pro,I know they can do it ,They just want you to spend the extra $50 ,but I don’t game so it’s not worth it.

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