Nvidia's new Shield TV is what Steam Link should have been

Nvidia unveiled a new version of its Shield TV streaming box at CES. The updated model sports a sleeker design than its predecessor, though more importantly it adds support for 4K HDR streaming. That's a big upgrade with Amazon Video serving up content in 4K HDR, as well as several other services supporting 4K (Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies, and Vudu).

Nvidia hasn't released exact details of what has changed relative to the original Shield TV, but they've said that an OTA firmware update for the original model will be coming this month that will support all the new features. That implies the hardware hasn't actually changed, and yet Nvidia managed to put everything in a chassis that is 40 percent smaller than the first generation Shield TV.

According to Nvidia, the new Shield TV offers 3x the performance of any other streamer out there. Based on our short hands on time with it, we can attest that it's fast and capable. We streamed Titanfall 2 in 4K at 60Hz to the updated Shield TV and it ran perfectly—gameplay was ultra smooth with no perceptible lag.

Shield TV also gains Google Assistant integration for hands-free operation. Users can bark out commands at Shield TV in place of using a remote to look up content, pause, fast forward, and so forth. On top of that, it features SmartThings Hub integration to turn Shield into a smart home hub.

"Shield TV is the world's most advanced streamer. Its brilliant 4K HDR quality, hallmark Nvidia gaming performance, and broad access to media content will bring families hours of joy. And with Shield's new AI home capability, we can control and interact with content through the magic of artificial intelligence from anywhere in the house," said Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia.

Interacting in other rooms will require additional hardware, naturally. Nvidia has a new product, called Spot, that provides remote microphone capabilities with a range of 20 feet. It can also triangulate your position if there are multiple Spots in the house, using beamforming on the mic to improve sensitivity. It connects to the main Shield TV hub wirelessly. Pricing and availability on Spot have not been announced.

As for Shield TV, the updated model is (still) powered by a Tegra X1 ARM chip with four Cortex-A57 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores, and 3GB of RAM. No other streamer comes close to those specs.

Shield TV can cast games from PCs and works with GeForce Now, Nvidia's on-demand game streaming service that resides in the cloud. Users can also access more than 1,000 games from the Nvidia Shield game store. For all intents and purposes, Nvidia is doing what Valve attempted to do with its Steam Machine initiative.

The new Shield is available to pre-order now. There are two versions, one with 16GB of storage for $200 and a 500GB model for $300. Orders will ship out later this month. The new model, besides being smaller and therefore sexier, also comes bundled with a controller and remote.

In the meantime, check out our gallery for some in-person pics.

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