Since Nvidia released the Shield Android TV box, I’ve heard several people saying Nvidia raised the bar and even disrupted the TV box market by bringing a powerful HTPC and gaming console to the market for just $199.
The company has now released OTA 2.0 firmware that improves HTPC capabilities, including under Kodi and Plex, and the box supports for 10-bit HEVC, H.264, and VP9 @ 4K, and audio pass-through for HD audio codecs such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master.
As part of the release announcement, Nvidia also compared the Shield TV media capabilities to the ones of other US centric media players, namely Apple TV (2015), Roku 3, Amazon Fire TV (2015), and Nexus Player.
Since it comes from Nvidia, it was also going to show the Shield TV in a good light, but I’m very surprised to see that Apple, Amazon, Google, and Roku would ship a device without MPEG-2 support… Maybe most people just stream videos online, instead of watching ripped DVDs… or in the case of Fire TV 2015 and Apple TV 2015, the products are not shipping yet, and the specifications were not completed. Nvidia Shield TV is also the one to support pass-through, but DTS-HD HR (High Resolution) is not listed and most likely not supported.
Nvidia also provided another comparison table comparing features and performance of Apple TV, Roku 3, and Fire TV (2015), against Shield, and somehow dropped Nexus Player from the comparison.
This confirms Shield TV supports HDMI 2.0a, and 2160p @ 60 Hz video output, and is much more powerful than its competitors, being the only machine providing decent gaming performance. Fire TV is listed as not having a micro SD slot, but that’s a mistake, as Fire TV supports micro SD cards up to 128GB.
I’ve also checked the price of the competitors:
- Apple TV 2015 – $149 with 32GB storage, $199 with 64 GB storage (conveniently forgotten in in the table above). Source: PC Advisor.
- Roku 3 – $97.95 on Amazon US
- Fire TV 2015 – $99.99 on Amazon US, or $139.99 for the Gaming Edition with an extra Gamepad and two games.
- Nexus Player – $73.97 on Amazon US
So only the Apple TV device is in the same price range as Nvidia Shield Android TV, and while it’s true the Nvidia device is well above the rest of the field in terms of performance and video capabilities, it’s also twice as expensive, but if that you need is a 4K HTPC with audio pass-through, it is the only viable solution among the other devices listed above, and the price to performance ratio is very good… as long as you happen to have an address in the US, or beginning today, in France, Germany, the UK, or Scandinavia, where it is now selling for 149.99 GBP, or 199.99 Euros. But if you live outside Europe or US, or other markets where the Shield TV is officially sold, you’ll have to go through parallel channels, and it will probably cost you between $300 to $400 to get the 16GB version of the device.
Thanks to Harley for the tip!
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.