NVIDIA’s Shield TV Pro is still the best streaming device in 2024

I’m very particular about what I need in a TV interface. I loathe recommendations in general and just want a minimal interface that offers easy access to the streaming services I use. It’s no surprise, then, that I went all-in on Android TV. In the beginning, I just used the default Android TV implementation that came as standard on most TVs and projectors, and although the UI was lightweight, it was prone to lag.

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I realized a streaming device would solve the issue, and coincidentally, Xiaomi came out with an Android TV streaming box at the time, so I picked that up. While it was definitely a better experience than what most TVs offered, there was still an occasional lag, and the Mi Box would crash when playing high bitrate content.

So when NVIDIA introduced the Shield TV Pro back in 2019, I bought a unit a few weeks after it went on sale. NVIDIA already had a great track record in this segment thanks to the 2015 and 2017 models of the Shield TV, and NVIDIA’s insistence on rolling out timely updates was the deciding factor.

It took just a few days of use to realize that the Shield TV Pro was in a league of its own; the powerful hardware combined with the minimal Android TV interface made for a great pairing. NVIDIA also had a suite of exclusive features on the Shield TV Pro, including GameStream — which allowed local game streaming on the device — and AI upscaling, long before AI was a buzzword.

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro against green background

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The AI-backed feature did a standout job upscaling SDR content, and it was a definite bonus. But where the Shield TV Pro truly came into its own was at Plex; it did a better job playing Plex content than any other device I’d used up to that point. I liked the Shield TV Pro so much that I bought two additional units, and I use it throughout the house to this day. 

Five years later, the Android TV ecosystem has fundamentally changed, but the Shield TV Pro continues to be the best streaming device. As is its wont, Google decided to mess with Android TV, switching out the clean UI and introducing an ad-laden abomination in its stead that is Google TV. Thankfully, none of my Shield TV Pro units have been updated to Google TV, and they’re still running the older Android TV interface.

But where the Shield TV Pro truly stands out is its performance; after nearly five years of use, it is still just as fluid as the day I set it up. A big part of this is NVIDIA’s continual update cadence that brings bug fixes and stability tweaks, and this is a rarity in the industry — I can’t think of any other Android device that has gotten as many updates.

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro against green background

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

That said, there have been a few issues over the years. One of the units is prone to freezing once a week, and Bluetooth pairing is wonky on another unit. NVIDIA moved away from GameStream, and while that’s annoying, Moonlight is an alternative that works just as reliably, so it wasn’t a big issue.

At the end of the day, the underlying Tegra X1 hardware is still decent enough even though it is nine years old at this point, and honestly, there isn’t another streaming device that is as good as the Shield TV Pro. Yes, there are things I would want to see in a 2024 variant of the device — AV1 decode, DLSS tech that’s similar to what’s on the latest NVIDIA video cards, and HDMI 2.1 connectivity.

A newer Shield TV Pro would be a killer device, but it doesn’t look like that’s a priority for NVIDIA at the moment. The chip vendor is making so much money via its AI business that it doesn’t need to focus on any other product line, including the GeForce portfolio. The Shield TV is in the same boat, but if NVIDIA were to provide the hardware for Nintendo’s Switch 2 (as leaks suggest), it isn’t outlandish to assume the brand will introduce a next-gen Shield TV that uses the same platform.

We’ll have to wait and see if that pans out, but if you’re dissatisfied with your current streaming device and want something better, the Shield TV Pro is still the one I’d recommend.

Via: Androidcentral

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