In an update to the fairly successful NVIDIA Shield 4K-capable streaming/gaming set-top box of 2015-2016, NVIDIA has now unveiled a new 2017 version of its platform with some hefty new changes.
Like the previous version, the new Shield offers up 4K ultra HD content support, built-in streaming of movies and other programming from a plethora of apps and access to new sources of content from Netflix and others. Furthermore, the new streamer is simply much more robust all around, with additions like Google Assistant built-right in and other enhancements that clearly show how NVIDIA wants its new shield to not only compete with other set-top boxes but also act as a piece of strong competition to Amazon’s own Echo device. As such, the 2017 Shield also includes an AI microphone peripheral system that can be turned to always-on listening functionality and placed around the house for voice command of the Shield’s numerous functions. This particular innovation in the 2017 device is called NVIDIA Spot.
With Spot, multiple listening devices can be placed throughout the home simply by being plugged into wall sockets, allowing for house-wide voice control in every place where one of the Spots can maintain communication with the Shield itself.
NVIDIA Spot for Google Assistant
Playing right into this hardware makeover of the Shield is Google’s new Google Assistant platform, which will soon be an integral part of the Android TV smart platform thanks to an upcoming firmware update that will be available in the 2017 Shield. In fact, the 2017 Shield platform will be the first ever Android TV device to get the addition of a completely hands-free Assistant experience since it will be capable of activation and functionality entirely through voice commands that start with the “Okay Google wake-up phrase. Google Assistant will also be rolled out to other Android TV devices that feature Android 6.0 or 7.0 in the U.S market. This includes numerous smart TVs such as Sony’s 2016/2017 4K UHD models and set-top platforms like the Xiaomi Mi Box.
Moving back to the specs and features of the NVIDIA Shield 2017 platform, one of its key updates will be a new controller package that includes both remote control and game controller right out of the box. The 2015 version of the Shield only came with a game controller with the remote control costing over $50 extra. Furthermore, the new Shield is quite a bit smaller than its 2015 predecessor, which might be a useful design feature for space-conscious users. This is all the more impressive when you keep in mind that the 2017 machine is more powerful than the 2015 model. Then there is the new Shield game controller, which simply looks damn cool, with a new angular body that’s also 20% smaller than the 2015 controller’s. We also need to mention that NVIDIA has given both the new controller and the new remote control a pair of IR blasters for use with your other household TV and streaming media hardware.
There will also be HDR10 support in the 2017 Shield for all that ultra HD HDR content that we keep expecting from Netflix and others. Beyond this, YouTube in the Shield has a new 360 degree video mode that delivers a remarkably immersive visual experience for something that isn’t virtual reality.
Then there are also some new game streaming updates for the Shield’s GeForce Now game service. These include a specs boost for the remote gaming systems for higher graphics resolution and fidelity and the Shield TV interface itself has been simplified for easier, simpler access to games and apps stored in your device’s library.
On the other hand, the new NVIDIA Shield won’t be getting new internal power upgrades to its processing specs. This is a bit unusual considering the kind of new software like Google Assistant and the gaming updates that have been added in but it also speaks well of the robustness of the original Shield’s processing specs. We should also note that many users might not wish to update to a new Shield since features like HDR are also coming to the 2015 version of the platform.
The NVIDIA Shield 2017 basic box is already available for pre-order with a 16GB version retailing for $199 (with remote control included this time). There is also the Shield Pro box, now on sale at Amazon for $299, with 500GB of storage. Both versions of the Shield will be getting the Google Assistant update with NVIDIA Spot but at a slightly later date and at a $50 additional cost. Units of both Shield machines will start shipping as of January 16th.
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