On the eve of the Apple TV 4K launch, NVIDIA has responded with a more affordable version of its Android TV-based Shield TV set-top box. The Shield TV now starts at $179, the same price as Apple TV 4K.
There’s no announcement that I can find—I found out about this from Android Police—but looking at the NVIDIA Shield TV website, it appears that what NVIDIA has done is create a version of its set-top box/gaming console that no longer includes the game controller. And it has lowered the price of this version to match the new Apple TV 4K.
Android TV is one of those weird things that, like Android Wear, has never taken off despite the popularity of Android and its surrounding ecosystem. I’ve been using an Android TV-based Mi Box on and off all year, but mostly just as a 4K-capable Chromecast because the built-in UI is so lousy and non-configurable. (Its biggest asset is the clean and simple hardware remote, which is not available on actual Chromecasts.)
But the NVIDIA Shield has always been of interest. To date, the firm has sold two versions, a 16 GB version with remote control and game controller for $199, and a 500 GB Pro version for $299.
The “new” NVIDIA is basically the 16 GB version sans game controller (a $60 extra). So it delivers what most people would expect from a living room streamer: Minimal onboard storage and a simple hardware remote control. Like the Apple TV 4K, it supports 4K and HDR video at 60 fps and Dolby Atmos and DTS-X surround sound. But it runs on Android TV, of course, making it better suited for the Google ecosystem. You can also expand its storage over USB, something Apple would never allow.
So this is very interesting. My Apple TV 4K is arriving tomorrow, and I hope to get some time with it before I head off to Orlando for Ignite. But I’ve been thinking about replacing the Mi Box. And maybe this is the right choice.