NVIDIA continues its march on world gaming domination with the third piece of SHIELD kit aimed at bringing affordable top end gaming into the home. Their first foray into gaming hardware was the SHIELD Portable, a controller packed with tech that enabled players to access android compatible games and stream fully fledged top end titles from NVIDIA’s GRID service. Next up came SHIELD Tablet, an 8” touchscreen tablet, also capable of downloads and streaming but that could also be plugged into screens and behave like a console.
NVIDIA has upped its game considerably with its latest foray into gaming hardware. SHIELD Android TV is a set top box, not unlike any number of others on the market at the moment but with the key advantage that it is sleek, small, and packs a ridiculously potent NVIDIA-powered punch.
With numerous entrants into the multimedia set-top box market jostling for position it’s worth looking at SHIELD’s relative strengths and seeming lack of weaknesses. As a visual entertainment system it has a lot going for it. 4K video (yes, it will make the most of any TV you care to hook it up to) 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound, streamed video and Google Voice Search. It’s difficult to see what comparably more expensive units can deliver over and above SHIELD’s offering.
The heart and soul of SHIELD’s offering is its gaming credentials. It is a force to be reckoned with. It might not pack the punch of a dedicated gaming PC with a GTX GPU and a GSync monitor, but as a home set-top box it is unrivaled. Rocking a Tegra X1 processor – NVIDIA’s most powerful mobile processor – and the company’s top-end Maxwell architecture it is perfectly placed to deliver 1080p gaming at 60 frames per second at a fraction of the cost of rival systems. Each SHIELD system comes with the box and an ergonomically designed controller. What’s not to like?
Enough hardware talk, let’s play. And SHIELD is all about the fun. Through Google Play, SHIELD owners have access to a vast library of games ranging from the casual to the hardcore. In addition over 50 titles have been enhanced and optimised specifically for SHIELD. Broken Age and Half Life: Episode 1 have been given a new lease of life through SHIELD and future treats in the form of Metal Gear Rising and Borderlands: The Pre-sequel are just beyond the horizon.
We have yet to mention GRID. SHIELD players have access to NVIDIA’s games streaming service. Described by NVIDIA as a Gaming Supercomputer in the cloud, GRID enables players to access a library of games, viewed at hi-def 1080p that would otherwise only be playable on a top end PC costing thousands of bucks. You will, admittedly, need a decent super-fast internet connection, to take full advantage of the service but given that, the gaming world is your oyster.
Right now GRID has a library of dozens of fun titles, older PC games and a handful of cutting edge experience including Batman: Arkham Origins and Saints Row 4. Future streaming exclusives GTA V and Witcher III render the service unmissable.
Existing PC owners equipped with GTX graphics cards can also take advantage of NVIDIA’s GameStream technology to stream their games to their SHIELD devices either across a local network or across the internet.
NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV is now available to own starting at $199.