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Nvidia Shield TV Pro 2019
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- Batteries : 2 AAA batteries required.
- Product Dimensions : 2.59 x 15.9 x 9.8 cm; 907 Grams
- Date First Available : 2 June 2020
- Manufacturer : NVIDIA
- ASIN : B07YP9FBMM
- Item model number : 945-12897-2500-101
- Best Sellers Rank: #8,718 in Electronics (See Top 100 in Electronics)
- Customer reviews:
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The NVidia shield TV is the best in class when comes to media streaming devices that is the most important point that needs to be made at the start of this review. I base that statement not on opinion but fact. I could write five pages of features and abilities this device is capable of that the nearest competitor can't touch. I would make the comparison the Nvidia Shield TV reminds me of time when you saw people with large satellite dishes in their back yard bragging about how they could watch TV stations from all over the world for free compared to their neighbors who were force fed whatever their cable provider would sell them. Even though I have mixed feelings about this release I need to make that clear.
Now with that in mind I'll list the most important issues in this review you should know before buying.
First - This is an important long term issue that can't be fixed with any software update the Shield TV Pro 2019 is HDMI 2.0B not the new HDMI 2.1 standard rolling out. HDMI 2.0B is at the end of its life cycle and when I saw this it did make me cringe because I know this device is not future proof. Recently Vizio has announced their entire lineup of TVs for 2020 will have HDMI 2.1 and many in the industry consider Vizio a budget brand. I'm a home theater enthusiast and I understand the importance of having HDMI 2.1 and at $199 this is a mind numbing let down. I'm expecting NVidia to release a hardware refresh of this device within 18-24 months at the latest with HDMI 2.1 and most likely add back the extras now missing (more on that below.)
Second - This might be a deal breaker for some is the lack of YouTube HDR 60 FPS VP9 codec support per NVIDIA'S own website. NVidia has come out refusing to support VP9 for some unknown reason and shield owners have been waiting over a year for an update supporting YouTube HDR but to no avail have users received it. It's confusing that Andriod's TV flagship device is lacking such an important feature.
Third - Missing items, in the box there no longer a gaming controller, the shield TV remote is now missing a head phone jack (sigh) but this does seem to be trend so not much of a surprise and in box there is no 4k HDR HDMI cable. Yes you read that right, for a $199 how much more skimpy can you get, seriously NVidia? Make sure you order a 4K HDR HDMI cable. Not all cables are equal and that has been the cause of many of the complaints in other reviews I've read here. I recommend an HDMI cable that can support 22.28 Gbps of bandwidth to avoid any issues and Zeskit makes an excellent cable sold on Amazon.
NVidias website currently lists the gaming controller for $59.99 which I don't recommend you buy (its not that great) but on the plus side Playstation 4 and XBOX controllers will work via Bluetooth and if you own the older NVidia shield gaming controller or TV remote those are compatible too. I tested the headphone jack from the original Nvidia shield TV remote on the new shield and luckily it worked but it doesn't currently work for the PlayStation 4 controller. There are after market shield remotes if you do need a headphone jack.
Since owning my first shield since 2015 there have been some ups and downs. Even though NVidia has been good with constant updates for the device over the years NVidia has not been good at listening to the community when it comes to features that are actually need like YouTube HDR. Nvida can be extremely hard nosed and that last reason is why I left my king of streaming boxes years ago on my older TV when I upgraded. NVidia refused to support Dolby Vision at the time. Now you can have it.
Why did I buy this device?
I ordered the 2019 Shield TV Pro because the AI-enhanced upscaling that experts are calling the "best they've ever seen." Upscaling is usually a gimmick and current TVs and receivers do a poor job at it nearly all of the time. The norm when reading expert TV reviews is a recommendation to disable the onboard video upscaling for the best picture quality. I can attest the Shields A.I upscaling does make a big difference and newer TV's will see the biggest difference especially in animations. Some examples I'll note when looking at a video frame paused with upscaling turned off all the roof shingles on top of a home blurred together/turned on I could make out each shingle with lines between them. On Neflix HD source material the natural light reflection off an actors eyes was missing but once the A.I was enabled the video looked like true 4k there was natural light reflection off the actor's pupils. One of the most dramatic changes was an HD video scene of the ocean the source material was Netflix HD with the option off the waves all blurred together but turned on you could see each ripple between the waves and sun light shimmered off each individual wave as they moved. HBO's streaming service while watching Game of Thrones I can now see the wrinkles on the actors faces and snow never looked so white and detailed! The amount of blur this device removes from standard HD is impressive and the detail it adds is just as good! I have no doubt Nvidia will keep improving this feature over time. To take advantages added to the 2019 shield you need a newer TV otherwise I find no reasons to upgrade from even the 2015 model.
The Price: - Thumbs Down - Minus 1 star
This device is not priced fairly, nearly 3 years ago the same device released lacking Dolby Vision and A.I upscaling which can now be had for feels like a $199 upgrade fee! I have no doubt at least one of the previous mentioned features could be enabled for the 2017 shield if not both. I'm disappointed in Nvidia because this is not a next gen device but only a minor refresh before what will most likely be another release. I've read multiple benchmark comparisons that all came to the same conclusion, if you take a 2017 shield and 2019 shield there is no processing power increase worth mentioning not even the slight 25% NVidia is claiming. Think about that for a second, if you bought a computer 3 years ago wouldn't you expect at least a 50% speed increase for the same money?
All in all this is the King of streaming devices and I found it nice to be able to switch from a small streaming stick with little freedom back to the shield that has once again taken the top spot as the King.
One last note.
I see something concerning the claims the older Shield models are somehow better than the 2019 Shield TV Pro. I own the oldest and the newest Shields and side by side you can't compare the picture quality or the sound. I put away my older Shield because of the lack Dolby Vision and better audio formats Amazon Prime and Netflix both support the previous Shield models lack. Another issue with older Shields is the poor quality remote prone to random disconnects or flat out dying and I replaced 3 last generation remotes myself. The 2019 Shield has a far superior remote that lights up when touched and if misplaced can be found by basically calling out for it to beep.
+ Still solid performance for a streaming device
+ Proper audio-passthrough
+ Great image quality*
+ New and improved Bluetooth Remote
+ AI Upscaling of lower resolution content
+ Can work as a Plex Server (Pro Model)
+ Excellent support and upgrades from Nvidia
+ HDR10 and now Dolby Vision support
- Color profile for video output currently broken (again)
- Limited TV model support for new remote
- Remote design not very ergonomic
- AI Upscaling delivers mixed results
- No built-in IR receiver
- No improvement in performance
- IR commands with 3rd party receiver don't work as well
- Too Expensive
- Older models are a better buy
I've got two Nvidia Shield TV 2015's since they were released years ago and I love them. I highly recommend them to any AV enthusiast who wants or needs the best streaming box. It's able to pass proper uncompressed audio and video to high-end receivers that no other streamer device can do. At least not correctly.
After the minor downgrade with the 2017 model, I was looking forward to an "upgrade" with the 2019 version. However, after a weekend of playing with this device, it's getting returned. Here's why:
DESIGN & REMOTE
First, this is the Pro version, which is physically the same as the 2017 model. It's still lacking an IR receiver, despite an upgraded remote. Which I will start by saying is probably the best feature of the new model. It uses Bluetooth to communicate with the Shield and will send IR signals to compatible devices. It works with my Onkyo receiver so I can power on/off with a single button and adjust the volume. However, it is not compatible with my Optoma projector.
The remote is nicely backlit and has much more useful buttons than in the past. The "V" shape is quite awkward as it doesn't lay flat on a surface. What's wrong with a normal remote form factor?
IR RECEIVER (3rd party)
Since Nvidia refuses to include a basic IR receiver, I did purchase a generic USB IR receiver which other users reported worked fine with the previous generation Shield TVs. However, there seem to be some changes with the 2019 version. The "back" button command won't exit out of some apps. You have to use the remote to do that or hit the home button.
And it doesn't accept dedicated power off/on commands. You'll have to change your Harmony remote to use the power toggle command instead. It works, but it's less ideal.
NVidia seriously needs to consider bringing back the built-in IR receiver. At least for the "high-end" PRO model. Especially when the included remote only works with a handful of TVs.
This is an area where the Nvidia Shield TV generally excels. But right out of the gate, it failed with color profiles. As with the previous generation devices, there is an option to enable color matching. Basically, this ensures the Shield is sending the correct color profile used by the content you are viewing. Without this, you'll have dull or very inaccurate color representation for the content your watching. You can Google 'colorimetry' for more details if you'd like.
This appears to "broken" with the 2019 Shield TV. They've broken it before with past Shield OS upgrades and have eventually fixed it. But I'm not sure why these features continue to be repeatedly messed up considering how important it is for the enthusiast customer they are targetting.
It appears to try to apply the color profile when it changes, but it's not sending the proper signal to the source for switching between BT.2020 and 709. Which confuses the heck out of my projector as it's not sure what's going on.
My projector doesn't support Dolby Vision, so I'm not able to test that feature. But it is a nice addition for those who can use it.
EDIT: Nvidia released a hotfix that resolved this. You'll need to contact them to push it to your device if it hasn't already been applied.
So far I haven't seen any issues with audio passthrough. It's another one of the key highlights of the Nvidia Shield TV devices in that they can pass through just about any high-quality audio format to your receiver for processing. Most other streaming boxes will compress or transcode the signal into a lesser quality. Instead of crisp and distinct sounds, you would get muffled audio.
Once again, this is going to be something you'll absolutely appreciate with a good high-end audio system. Although with that said, I'm not seeing the 2019 model bring anything new to the table. At least not that the previous shields TV's could do. Any format I can throw at it works great with all Shield TV's, including Atmos.
I didn't notice any change in performance as I switched back and forth between my 2015 and 2019 Shield TV. It's still one of the fastest streaming boxes you can buy. But I was hoping for a boost in performance to smooth out transitions, animations, and perhaps make it a bit more snappy. It's not even close to being slow and works just fine for me. But since this was advertised as being "25%" faster" I was quite disappointed.
Then as I'm wrapping up this review, it has also been confirmed by other reviewers that the 2019 model is indeed no faster than previous models. As verified with 3rd party benchmarking apps.
This was an interesting feature I was looking forward to testing. Even though the majority of my content is now at least 1080p or 4k, I do still have older videos that could benefit from further clarity. It's also worth noting that the AI upscaling disables itself with higher quality content. But there is a nice comparison feature so you can see the upscaling work in real-time.
Basically, it works, it enhances the image, but you may or may not like it. I found in some cases it looked better. And in other cases, the improved sharpening and enhancement gave the image an artificial look. Perhaps further software updates can improve this.
As I stated at the beginning, the Nvidia Shield TV is still the absolutely best streaming device you can buy. But the 2019 model takes a few steps back. As compared to the past models, it's too expensive for how little you get in the "upgrade" department. If they can fix the software issues (which I'm sure they will) and drop the price by at least 25% for both models, I'd give the Shield TV 2019 a solid recommend and 4+ star rating.
With the caveat that expected discounts on older models are probably still going to be a better buy. At present time, you're certainly better off with the 2017 model. Unless you can find the original 2015 model, which I still believe is the best version.
The remote here is finally good. It feels nice in the hand and button action is pretty good. The layout isn't perfect but it's simple enough. I could skip the Netflix button as well but it isn't too obnoxious. Hopefully the battery lasts as long as it says (~6 months on two standard AAA batteries).
Sadly one limitation of the 2015 and 2017 shield models was not fixed here. You still cannot play YouTube HDR content due to no hardware acceleration for the VP9 profile 2 codec. This is the biggest disappointment in the new model for me. If YouTube HDR is really important, you may want to just get the Chromecast Ultra but for all other uses the Shield is a nicer device.
Otherwise it's the same Shield TV for the most part. Nvidia has done a really good job supporting the existing model and there's little reason to upgrade if you have one. Definitely pick up the new remote though, it's backwards compatible and will be available separately.
One more thing to note is that there does not seem to be a way to use software volume control on this model. You do have IR volume if your receiver or TV is in the supported list, but if you have a rare audio receiver or TV, and CEC volume doesn't work for you, the volume buttons won't do anything. There's quite a few IR setups available under settings but no way to manually configure IR codes if you have a device that isn't listed.