Nvidia’s living room iteration of the Shield gaming and streaming device has launched, aiming to bring Android TV to thousands of homes and provide one more option to the increasingly-crowded field of cable alternatives for cord-cutters.
Introduced at GDC this past March, the new Shield is an Android-powered micro-console, not unlike the Ouya. Unlike the somewhat underwhelming Ouya, however, the Shield is powered by Nvidia’s cutting-edge Tegra X1 processor, with a 256-core GPU and 64-bit CPU that has the muscle to stream 4K video and games with Nvidia’s Grid cloud-based gaming service. At launch there are over 200 games available to play via Android TV, 20 of which are coming exclusively to Shield. This includes recent hits like Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel or indie puzzler The Talos Principle, and also remastered classics like Half-Life 2.
Shield will let you test out that new, 4K resolution TV that you bought by streaming Ultra HD content from Netflix and YouTube. It also supports an increasingly wide array of streaming apps from various content providers, such as HBO Now, Twitch, CBS, FOX, and Vimeo. Life TV can be streamed via Sling TV and Google’s Live Channels app, which lets you watch live news, sports, and shows through a built-in tuner, IP-based tuners, and other sources.
The basic version costs $200 and comes with a modest 16 GB of on-board storage, which means that you will mostly be streaming. The $300 Pro version, on the other hand, bumps that up to 500 GB, and includes a copy of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, for good measure. For a limited time, both versions also come with a $30 Google Play store credit and a 90-day subscription (worth $30) to Google Play Music All Access.
Nvidia Shield started its life in 2013 as a gamepad with an attached screen for playing Android games. In late 2014 it split the screen off to be a powerful gaming tablet with an accompanying wireless controller. That controller has carried over into this third iteration, which is a svelte, set-top box that can either lay flat or stand upright with an included stand.