Last Tuesday evening, NVIDIA unveiled their all new Android TV console called the SHIELD, making this their third device in the SHIELD lineup and the first Android TV device to feature 4K streaming media support. First things first. The NVIDIA SHIELD is an amazing looking device. It’s slim form factor and sleek aesthetic with a slightly different thickness for each side of the unit, plus it’s optional stand made out of all anodized aluminum and the cool green light that peeks through the top surface of the console, make the SHIELD a superbly pleasing experience visually. This is one Android TV box users should feel proud to have out on display as it will surely wow friends and family that even only mildly enjoy technology.
All that visual appeal comes at a price though. This is an NVIDIA product and NVIDIA’s stuff tends to come at a little bit of a higher price tag. Once it goes on sale later this year which is scheduled to be in May, the NVIDIA SHIELD will cost interested consumers a cool $199. That’s already $100 more than the currently available Nexus Player, and the soon to be released Razer Forge TV that is also priced at $99 which was shown off back at CES this year. The aesthetics definitely have a part to play in the cost no doubt, but the main reason the SHIELD is more expensive is for its functionality. As an Android TV device, I’m a firm believer that Android TV is Android TV across the board. If what you want is something to connect you to the Android TV platform for movies, music and maybe some apps or Android games, generally any Android TV unit will do. NVIDIA’s SHIELD comes out ahead though with features that are more attractive to high-resolution media lovers and, of course, hardcore gamers.
The SHIELD not only supports 4K media streaming, but it also allows you to play AAA game titles that are currently only available to SHIELD tablet and SHIELD portable owners like Portal and Half-Life 2, plus all of the currently available Android games that are downloadable to any other Android TV device. Where it really hits it home though(at least from a gamer’s perspective)is the addition of NVIDIA’s GRID service. For the first time, NVIDIA is finally launching it’s game streaming service called GRID, which is going to allow gamers to stream high-quality game titles like Doom 3 BFG Edition, Metal Gear Rising, and… even Crysis 3, as NVIDIA displayed during their unveiling at the GDC 2015 conference this past week. Indeed, the NVIDIA SHIELD can run Crysis.
Even with all of these amazing features though, the NVIDIA SHIELD is still not going to disrupt console gaming, not on a large scale. The product looks excellent, and it will no doubt run well and those who choose to purchase it will probably be extremely happy customers. There are many reasons why people choose to go with a console for their gaming needs though and none of them are things the SHIELD is going to be able to compete with, not right away. Consoles like the PS4 and the Xbox One will continue to gain first and third party exclusive titles which does drive consumers to lean one way or the other. With the NVIDIA SHIELD, newer titles that have come out in the last 6 months will likely not be available through GRID immediately, which is one reasons consoles have an edge. Both PS4 and Xbox One also have quite the robust online gaming community and experiences for things like multiplayer matchups, PS4’s share play and remote play features, and Xbox One’s capability to stream to upcoming Windows 10 PC’s. GRID is brand new, so even if it does come up with some sort of online gaming community, it will be small for quite some time. As cool as Android gaming is, their multiplayer and online gaming features are in the same boat. When the NVIDIA SHIELD launches, it will be fantastic simply for the capability to bring PC game titles to the couch and played with a unit powered by the next generation Tegra X1 mobile super chip. While the SHIELD may not rip the ground out from under gaming heavyweights like the Sony and Microsoft consoles, what it can do is pave the way for gaming in a new direction. A fusion of Android game titles and AAA games you can play on PC all in one unit, with game streaming services like GRID at their core. If Android gaming were ever going to be revolutionary, it’s the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV console that has the capability to make it so.