Why Is NVIDIA Shield TV so Expensive?


The NVIDIA Shield TV and Shield TV Pro on a table.

Most streaming sticks from Roku, Google, and Amazon value lower than $50 and assist 4K video. However the NVIDIA Shield TV begins at $150, a value that’s solely matched by Apple TV packing containers. It’s an outrageous sum of money to pay for a streaming stick, however nonetheless, the NVIDIA Defend TV is price each penny.

First, What Is NVIDIA Defend TV?

The unique NVIDIA Defend TV launched again in 2015. And at the moment, it wasn’t actually known as a “streaming stick.” Positive, it ran Android TV and was the primary widely-available 4K UHD set-top field, however NVIDIA known as the Defend TV a “micro-console.”

That’s as a result of Defend TV was primarily focused towards avid gamers and fanatics. Most individuals didn’t have 4K TVs, and few streaming companies aired content material at a excessive decision. The principle promoting level for this field was its library of supported Android video games and the NVIDIA Grid (now known as GeForce NOW) cloud gaming service.

Tinkerers had been additionally interested in the “micro-console,” which may very well be modified for a number of functions. It may double as a Plex Media Server, for instance, and provided sensible dwelling performance via Samsung SmartThings (a function that died due to Samsung).

We now consider NVIDIA Defend TV as a streaming stick, primarily as a result of it presents the perfect video and audio high quality of any small streaming machine (and since cloud gaming took some time to pan out). However these further options haven’t gone wherever, that means that Defend TV continues to be the final word streaming machine for avid gamers and tinkerers.

Excessive-Finish Video High quality with AI Enhancements

Examples of 4K UHD quality and AI upscaling on NVIDIA Shield TV.

Most individuals purchase an NVIDIA Defend TV for the video high quality. Yeah, different streaming sticks assist 4K UHD and Dolby imaginative and prescient—that stuff isn’t too uncommon. However the NVIDIA Defend additionally makes use of AI to upscale video, providing the perfect image high quality of any streaming machine.

By default, all TVs try to upscale content to suit a local decision. However these milquetoast upscaling algorithms primarily exist to make low-res content material fill the entire display. They not often enhance picture high quality.

NVIDIA’s AI upscaling tech actively improves picture high quality, successfully making low-res content material appear like crystal clear 4K (or 1080p when you don’t have a 4K TV). It’s an extremely helpful function on the earth of streaming, as a lot of the films and exhibits in your favourite companies are solely out there in 720p or 1080p.

I must also observe that NVIDIA Defend TV is the king of audio high quality. It helps 32-bit 192 kHz audio over HDMI and may run 7.1 encompass sound programs.

Android TV Software program and Chromecast Constructed-In

The NVIDIA Shield TV running Android 11.

I hate to throw the Chromecast beneath the bus, however NVIDIA Defend TV is one of the best ways to expertise the Android TV software program. The costly {hardware} is snappy and solely considerably buggy, which is greater than you’ll be able to say for many streaming sticks.

The Android TV software program suits in its personal little area of interest. It really works with choose Android apps and video games, after all, however it’s additionally extremely customizable. And because of Google’s algorithms, it presents superior “personalization” options that prevent time when in search of exhibits or films.

A few of these personalization options are very apparent. Android TV has a Uncover tab that implies exhibits and films it’s possible you’ll get pleasure from, releasing you from opening particular person apps. However there’s additionally a common search operate that digs via all out there companies. For those who press the microphone button in your distant and say “Scooby-Doo dwell motion film,” for instance, Android TV will present each service that hosts the Scooby-Doo film.

The Android TV software program additionally helps Google Forged performance, that means which you can beam a video out of your cellphone or laptop straight to your TV (you’ll be able to even use it to reflect your display). That is particularly helpful if you’re watching one thing on a cellphone and wish to shortly transfer it to the large display.

Now, I’ll be the primary to say that Android TV isn’t good. It doesn’t obtain sufficient updates, sensible dwelling options are extremely missing, and when you simply need a clear and easy interface, Roku or Apple TV are the best way to go. However in terms of personalization and tinkering, Android TV is king.

Cloud Gaming, Android Video games, and Emulators on Your TV

Fortnite playing on a TV with an Xbox controller.
Miguel Lagoa/Shutterstock.com

Whereas NVIDIA’s plan to construct a “micro-console” didn’t actually pan out, the NVIDIA Defend TV continues to be the perfect streaming stick for avid gamers. It could actually play a flurry of Android apps, it really works with emulators (so you’ll be able to play basic video games), and naturally, it’s among the finest choices for cloud gaming with NVIDIA GeForce Now.

The GeForce Now expertise is particularly compelling. NVIDIA’s cloud gaming platform lets you play AAA titles on any machine with none large downloads or further {hardware}. The GeForce Now “RTX 3080” tier presents top-of-the-line graphics that put the latest Xbox and PlayStation to disgrace, and naturally, GeForce Now works with Fortnite (even on iOS).

You may join nearly any gamepad to the NVIDIA Defend TV, by the best way. If you wish to use an Xbox or PlayStation controller, that’s nice. Voice chat additionally works, and when you’re extra of a PC gamer, you’ll be able to join a keyboard and mouse with the console.

The Professional Mannequin Is Extra Than Only a Streaming Stick

The NVIDIA Shield TV Pro

Most individuals simply need a streaming stick, which is why NVIDIA sells two variations of the Defend TV. There’s the usual mannequin, which prices $150 and appears like a black hotdog, and there’s the extra superior $200 Defend TV Professional.

The usual NVIDIA Defend TV has a microSD slot and an Ethernet jack, that are superior however a bit limiting. By comparability, the Defend TV Professional (a set-top field) has two USB ports, an Ethernet jack, an additional 8GB of storage (16GB whole), an additional 1GB of RAM (3GB whole).

These further perks allow the next options on NVIDIA Defend TV Professional:

Improved AI Upscaling

One of many large drawbacks of the usual NVIDIA Defend TV is that it solely runs AI upscaling on 30FPS video. Now, that is primarily an fanatics’ drawback, as you’ll not often stream 720p or 1080p content material at 60FPS.

But it surely’s an enormous disappointment if you’re streaming customized content material (from a PC by way of LAN, for instance) or when utilizing GeForce Now at a low decision and excessive body fee. For those who plan to do something past typical streaming with the NVIDIA Defend, you should purchase the Professional mannequin.

It Works with OTA TV!

Antenna TV is severely underrated. It’s free TV, in spite of everything, and it really presents a better picture quality than cable. Whereas the usual NVIDIA Defend doesn’t work with OTA TV, you’ll be able to carry this function to your NVIDIA Defend TV Professional utilizing two equipment.

All you want are a TV antenna and a digital tuner, ideally an HD HomeRun Duo ($110) or Hauppauge WinTV-dualHD USB ($75). Hook the antenna as much as the tuner, join the tuner to your NVIDIA Defend TV Professional over USB, and also you’re all set!

Effectively, you will have an app to run a dwell TV service. You may both use the LiveTV app that comes normal with Android TV, set up the HDHomeRun app, or use Plex to deal with the whole lot. Notably, each the HDHomeRun and Plex apps assist DVR performance.

It’s a Plex Media Server!

Have you ever ever wished to construct your personal streaming service? Effectively, it’s straightforward with Plex. You simply load your films, TV exhibits, and music into a Plex Media Server and let the software organize everything. Then, you can stream that content on any device inside or outside your home.

It simply so occurs that the NVIDIA Defend TV Professional is a tremendous Plex Media Server. All you want are just a few onerous drives (or a NAS machine) and the Plex Android TV app. As a result of the NVIDIA Defend TV Professional has a comparatively highly effective processor, it could possibly deal with a number of simultaneous streams and 4K content material.

NVIDIA SHIELD TV Professional (2019)


The NVIDIA Defend TV Professional presents all of the options of its cheaper, smaller sibling. But it surely additionally presents OTA TV performance, can work as a Plex Media Server, and options AI upscaling at 60FPS. Plus, there’s further RAM and USB ports.

Ought to You Purchase an NVIDIA Defend TV?

The NVIDIA Shield TV in a hotdog bun covered in mustard.
Michael Crider

If you wish to profit from a 4K TV, an NVIDIA Defend TV is totally well worth the cash. It’s costly, however it presents the perfect 4K streaming expertise due to AI upscaling expertise.

Fans and dorks may get lots out of the NVIDIA Defend TV, although they need to purchase the Professional mannequin. It opens the door to constructing a Plex Media Server, upscaling content material at a excessive body fee, and streaming OTA TV with minimal {hardware}.

However right here’s the factor; you don’t must spend a ton of cash for a very good streaming expertise. The common individual, even when they personal a 4K TV, ought to in all probability purchase a less expensive streaming stick. Corporations like Roku, Amazon, and Google promote 4K streaming sticks for $50 or much less—they don’t have NVIDIA’s AI upscaling, however hey, that’s the tradeoff for purchasing one thing that isn’t ridiculously costly.

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