Online Gaming is something I’ve done since I first got dial-up many years ago. I started with a Zork derivative back in the early 80’s, and moved on to RP and Social Muds later in the decade. It would be years later when I actually worked in the field myself, that I picked up online gaming again in the form of Asheron’s Call.
For those who play the genre of MMO’s you’re aware of the many benefits and challenges of playing online games. The games today are light years ahead of their ancestors in both content and graphic quality, but the basic issue remains the same – is the game world as responsive as if it were running on my local computer. In gaming, there’s little tolerance for lag.
That’s why I was skeptical that I’d ever be interested in looking at services that purported to stream entire games over the Internet. It’s one thing to stream positional and inventory data, but it’s quite another to stream entire games. It turns out that it’s not only possible, but with products like Nvidia’s Shield, it’s quite a good experience.
But to call the Nvidia Shield a gaming device is to ignore a large part of what else it can do. In addition to serving as a gaming platform, it is also a superior audio and video streamer, working with all of the largest of content providers to provide up to 4K HDR content at full framerate. And, because it runs Android TV, it does all of this in a convenient and easy to use format.
I may have been attracted to the Nvidia Shield because of it’s potential as a living room gaming machine, but I came away learning that it does a lot more than just play games.
What I like about the Nvidia Shield Streaming Media Player
Just entering the world of the Nvidia Shield means you need to become familiar with some terminology. If this is old news to you, go ahead and skip down a couple of paragraphs because I’m going to talk about the technology involved in this device.
One of the first things you should know is that the Nvidia Shield can stream 4K HDR. If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, it’s an expansion of 4K technology to help improve and differentiate it from High Definition Television (1080p). It seems that not enough of you were impressed with just 4K pictures, and so they had to come up with a way to make it even better. You guys sure are hard to please.
Basically, HDR is a way of displaying the wider dynamic range contained in the source content. A film camera or a modern digital camera is capable of capturing a higher level of brightness and noticabely deeper blacks than standard 4K is capable of showing.
But HDR isn’t just about increasing the brightness of an image. The goal was to increase the overall dynamic range by making the dark parts darker and the bright parts brighter, while still maintaining detail. For example, looking out a brightly lit window through a dark room. However, it’s not just about the contrast, because HDR also displays a wider color space than the current standard of Rec.709.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the Nvidia Shield supports this standard now, and can stream content from providers offering HDR content such as Netflix and Amazon. More content providers, such as Google and Hulu are on the way. Having HDR support means your device is future proof for streaming ultimate resolution content.
Another significant difference with the Nvidia Shield is that it incorporates the Nvidia Tegra X1 processor. This is a teraflop chip that has been compared in computing power to a Supercomputer from the year 2000. That’s an incredible amount of processing power in a tiny form factor device.
The Shield is also the only device to allow you to connect with the Nvidia GeForce NOW for streaming games over the Internet. For a small monthly fee, you can connect your Nvidia Shield to an entire library of PC games and stream them over the net directly to your Shield. Both free and paid content are available to Nvidia Shield owners.
As long as you have an Internet connection above 25Mbs, you can stream games from GeForce NOW. I was not convinced that this would work until I saw for myself that both Witcher 3 and Lara Croft played without stuttering or any noticeable degradation. For those who’ve already tried Nvidia’s Gamestream, this probably will be less of a surprise, but the results are very nearly identical.
Another important feature is Plex support. If you’re not familiar with Plex, it’s an application that allows you to set up one device as a server and then connect your other devices wirelessly for remote streaming. The Shield works in either role as a server or as a client.
The Shield includes both a wireless remote and a wireless game pad, both with voice activated response.
The Nvidia Shield may cost a bit more than other home media streamers, but for what’s included, and what it can do, it’s most certainly a consideration for anyone serious about home entertainment.
Nvidia Corporation is an American technology company based in Santa Clara, California. It’s core business is the design of graphics processing units (GPUs) for the gaming market, as well as system on a chip units (SOCs) for the mobile computing and automotive market.
Nvidia’s main GPU product line, known as “GeForce”, has enlarged its presence in the gaming industry with hand-held SHIELD Portable, SHIELD Tablet and SHIELD Android TV. It now provides GPU-accelerated computing to the gamers both on local and cloud-based devices.
In the Summer of 2015 they began shipping the Nvidia Shield Streaming Media Player.
Nvidia Shield Streaming Media Player
- Stream 4K HDR from Netflix, Amazon Video, Plex.
- Stream 4K from Youtube, HBO, Pandora, Spotify, Sling TV, Kodi, and more.
- Stream AAA PC games with GeForce NOW.
- Cast PC games in 4K HDR from your GeForce rig to the living room with GameStream.
- Google search from over 100 apps, including Netflix, YouTube, HULU and more.
- Includes remote and redesigned SHIELD controller with voice search.
The Nvidia Shield incorporates the high-powered X1 Tegra processor for the fastest application times among all competing Android TV boxes.
Some customer reviews
After having a few days getting the device mostly set up for my use, I must say I’ve very pleased with the unit overall. It’s hands down the fastest streaming device I’ve ever used, much faster than my XBOX ONE S and ROKU 3.
So far I love it’s streaming apps. Netflix, Amazon, and Plex support 4K HDR, Youtube, Google Movies, Vudu and Ultraflix and a few others support 4K. The interface is fast. Launching apps, browsing content in them, playing is almost instantaneous.
I love this thing. Incredibly powerful, easy to use but difficult to master, this box lets me do just about anything related to what I want running on my tv.