Nvidia just announced a new Shield TV streaming box during CES, but it turns out most of its updates were cosmetic and software changes – the internals are pretty much identical.
So in a welcome software update rolling out today over the air, Nvidia is bringing most of the new Shield’s features to the 2015 model.
Aside from the update from Marshmallow to Nougat, the most notable feature may be Amazon Video support. Amazon is stingy about which Android TV devices get to play it’s video content, and now the Shield is one of the few of them that can play Amazon video in 4K HDR. It also helps Nvidia catch up with one of the Roku Ultra’s biggest advantages.
Second is improved cloud gaming support, allowing game streams powered by Nvidia 1080 cards on the server end for better graphics (you were previously limited to an already powerful 1070). The Shield TV can also now stream games from your computer in 4K and HDR.
Nougat also brings a few useful touches:
- Double tap the home button for recent apps
- Picture-in-picture support
- Play/Pause on the Shield remote by double-tapping the volume slider
If you’re wondering why you’d want to buy the new Shield at this point, truth is, you don’t need to.
The only real differences are the game controller, which now has a more comfortable design with improved buttons, and the remote control which is now included and drops the headphone jack but has much improved battery life. The new Shield unit is also a fair bit smaller, but the old one was hardly large.
If you can live without those changes, you’d be better off getting a used Shield on the cheap. Kudos to Nvidia for keeping its old hardware updated; given the internal specs and connectivity haven’t changed, owners of the older model still have the most powerful streaming device you can buy right now.