Technology

2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro Review

The following article is a detailed, in-depth review of the NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro.

NVIDIA released its new device on October 28th, 2019 after it was initially leaked by online retailers earlier in the month.

It’s important to note that the NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro is a different device than its counterpart – the NVIDIA SHIELD TV.

See our complete review below for more information on that streaming device.

Our NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro review is a complete, unbiased assessment of the device as are all of our product reviews and recommendations on this site.

This is one of many reviews that we have on this site for Android TV Boxes that are available on Amazon. Check out our other review posts by clicking the links below.

I also encourage you to check out the Android TV Box Resource Guide that will list the Best Android TV Boxes, Applications, and much more.

It’s also important to point out that the 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro runs Android TV OS, and not stock Android.

Stock Android OS is seen within generic Android TV boxes like the T95Q, X96 Max, and the Beelink GT-King.

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro

Similar to its predecessor, the 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro is an upgraded version of the Android TV Box that makes it one of the best streaming devices available today.

For users who want faster device performance, more storage, better connectivity options and added smart home features but still want to keep the angular black box design that the previous model is known for, this newer version won’t disappoint new NVIDIA fans.

The 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro is touted as the best Android TV Box on the market today, thanks to its massive power, which is convenient for fast download speeds when IPVanish is activated on this streaming device.

We typically see a decrease in download speed when a VPN is activated but due to the power on the NVIDIA SHIELD, it’s very minimal.

What’s in the Box

  • NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro micro-console
  • SHIELD TV Pro remote control
  • Power cord
  • SHIELD TV Pro Quick Start guide
  • SHIELD TV Pro Support booklet

What’s New with the NVIDIA Shield Pro

nvidia shield tv pro review

I’ve posted before how NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro users were excited about the latest release and how it has been upgraded.

Now that it’s already available in the market after its last release in 2015, we’re finally able to confirm if the rumored enhancements measured up to our expectations.

First, the micro-console now comes smaller and lighter compared to its predecessor.

At only 2.05 lbs (compared to the previous version’s 4.4 lbs), NVIDIA has made sure that its new release would fit rooms with limited spaces for their entertainment gadgets.

Second, while the 2015 NVIDIA SHIELD didn’t have any connectivity options, NVIDIA made sure to include ethernet and Wi-Fi this time to keep with the demands of the market and be at par with its competitors.

Third, internet applications have leveled up already, which now includes Amazon Instant Video, Browser, Vudu, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Spotify, Fandango NOW, YouTube, HBO, and others.

Compare that to the 2015 model, which was limited to YouTube, Hulu and Sling TV only.

Fourth, the device now packs a bunch of features including AI Upscaling, which we used to experience on high-end Smart TVs before.

This allows viewers to set movies to crystal-clear definition with sharper details. So, if you have lower resolution movies, you can upscale it to your smart TV’s native resolution by enabling the device’s “AI-Enhanced” setting.

Fifth, the remote control now comes in a prism shape and with more buttons (including Netflix) for quick and easy navigation.

NVIDIA has also integrated power, volume and rewind/fast-forward buttons. In addition, the remote features a built-in backlit button that can be motion-activated.

Another new RC feature is its built-in remote locator that will help you find it in case you misplace the unit. Users will also be able to purchase this remote separately for $29.99 should you fail to locate it.

Finally, other new features include HDR 10 + Dolby Vision, Decode and passthrough Dolby Atmos and Bluetooth 5.0 technology.

But there are also downgrades, which might put off fans of this device.

For instance, NVIDIA reduced its storage from 500GB to only 16GB. Active gamers sure know how frustrating it is to have limited space.

Plus, NVIDIA has not included a microSD slot anymore on this release whereas the non-Pro version contains it (but lacks a USB port though).

Then there’s the missing game controller that sparked even more frustration on social media.

You can still purchase it separately though (at $69) or opt for other compatible controllers such as those that come for Xbox One, SteelSeries, Sony PlayStation 4 and 8BidDo. These all cost less but offer the same functionality that works just as well.

Comparing the 2015 and 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro Models

What I Like

In a nutshell, the 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro can still be regarded as one of the best streaming devices in the market today although NVIDIA has unfortunately reduced some of its features that we’ve come to enjoy in the previous version.

Here’s my take on the different features of the device.

Microconsole

nvidia shield tv pro review specs

The 2019 microconsole version is now made sleeker than its predecessor although it hasn’t departed so much from its old shape unlike the basic 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV that now comes in a tubular form.

For those wanting to travel with this device, it makes a handy companion when you want to play hundreds of games in your hotel room or simply listen to Amazon Music coming from a business meeting in the evening.

You can position the microconsole horizontally and connect easily to the dual USB, HDMI, Gigabit ethernet and Power slots easily.

If your home entertainment space is limited, however, you can position it vertically to occupy less room with the help of a SHIELD TV stand, which is sold separately for $19.99.

Processor

With the Tegra X1+ processor with 256-core NVIDIA GPU, the device is relatively much faster than its older model.

This allows it to deliver better device performance in terms of amazing enhanced visuals and crystal-clear sound.

This processor is able to run the AI-Enhanced Upscaling feature with no lags and superb precision to accommodate the demands of the system.

While I’ve had no issues with the old model’s processing speed, I consider the move from Tegra X1 to X1+ a huge factor in how the device makes the picture quality a lot sharper.

Remote Control

nvidia shield tv pro review remote

One of the biggest changes NVIDIA made is the design of the remote control.

The motion-activated, backlit buttons make it easier to use in a dark home theater room and is something that the manufacturer should have thought of a long time ago.

I also tried using the built-in microphone voice search feature and found it to be highly responsive to my commands when doing basic searches.

I’ve also tested it playing and pausing streaming content, turning OFF the TV and even searching for actors using this feature.

It’s also compatible with Alexa for those who prefer this tech assistant.

I have a great soundbar in my entertainment system and the remote control’s infrared blaster (also known as IR blaster) makes an impressive feature when sending undisrupted signals directly to the television for volume control and power command.

If you have a receiver in front of the TV that tends to block the signal from the remote control, it’s a good solution to that problem.

Then there are the HDMI-CEC settings, which allow CEC commands to be used as shortcuts to navigate the interface much easier.

Similar to the NVIDIA SHIELD TV, the Pro version’s Bluetooth connectivity also works well when paired to the TV. It was easy and much faster to connect for an RC device.

As I stated above, the lost remote locator is one of the best RC features. I downloaded the SHIELD TV app on my phone and paired it with my SHIELD TV.

Then, I tried using this feature and was impressed right away at how fast it was able to search for the device.

The RC now uses two AAA batteries instead of the previous coin-like CR2032 batteries.

It reportedly provides longer power source at higher continuous drain rates and capacity for the RC although I must say that with constant use (like what I did), it tends to drain easily.

Picture Quality and Screen Features

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro’s AI-Enhanced upscaling feature allows users to set the picture quality ti low, medium or high settings to achieve the desired clarity.

There’s really not much of a difference when switching from basic to enhanced picture clarity between the SHIELD TV and the Pro versions when using the AI-enhanced feature.

This feature is a sure delight to those who prefer watching HD content on a 4K resolution without the disappointing pixelated effect when the video source is at 1080p or lower.

Take note that for those who’ve gotten ahold of the device during the first week of its release, they’ve encountered a minor issue with colors being displayed incorrectly.

NVIDIA immediately responded with a hotfix through a software upgrade that resolved this issue along with bug fixes on the volume control and 4K playback functionality.

In December 2019, there have been three hotfixes so far issued by NVIDIA to improve its features, but older models are not covered by these updates, however.

Gaming Features

NVIDIA offers its gaming technology on both SHIELD TV models with GeForce NOW, a cloud-gaming service where users can choose from more than 400 supported games.

With its new processor, loading is made much faster and games can be played on any device.

The original NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro was undoubtedly designed for gaming enthusiasts.

nvidia shield tv pro review gaming

What separates the 2019 model from the basic and cheaper version is that it provides access to Advanced Android Gaming. This has been a feature for the basic model but is not included in the 2019 release anymore.

NVIDIA also lets most game emulators run on both devices except the Dolphin emulator, which only works on the Pro version.

In terms of gaming performance, the 16GB of internal storage of the Pro version is where it really matters as I was able to play without lags and interruptions although I still feel a lot frustrated that it was downgraded from 500GB.

In addition, I tried using the USB 3.0 ports instead of the Bluetooth technology and there were no issues with the connection at all.

Similar to my NVIDIA SHIELD TV testing, NVIDIA I have plenty of game choices on the GeForce Now’s library.

For those who purchased games from Steam and Google Play, you can download them right to your NVIDIA SHIELD TV to expand your game collection.

Casting games through the NVIDIA GameStream from my GeForce Now on my desktop allowed me to play them on my SHIELD TV Pro.

To stream on 4K, I simply connected my SHIELD TV Pro and PC via wired ethernet directly to the same home network.

By keeping the OPTIMIZE GAMES feature ON, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro did a great job of adjusting each game’s setting based on my TV’s display resolution as well.

I credit the 4K HDR (high dynamic range) for bringing richer images and finer details of the games tested.

Smart Home Compatibility

If you have Samsung SmartThings devices such as cameras, hubs, sensors, bulbs outlets, and buttons, you can control them through the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro using Wifi, Bluetooth, Zigbee or Z-Wave Plus.

By turning your Pro device into a smart hub, you can now set commands when dimming the lights or checking if the doors and windows are closed.

Plex Media Server

The 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro has pre-installed PLEX client and PLEX Media Server.

It can be used to organize and stream all your media if you have a large library including photos and music.

nvidia shield tv pro plex

Your SHIELD device can be used to organize your large library instead of using Plex on your computer or mobile phone.

However, there are certain limitations to this feature. The device will have reduced functionality when transcoding video sources not in H.264, H.265 (HEVC) and MPEG 2 formats.

In addition, if there’s insufficient space on your device or you’ve used up nearly all of the 16GB space available, any content may not be played properly.

Built-in Chromecast

The built-in Chromecast allowed me to cast from my smartphone to my TV. I have yet to test it on my tablet, laptop and other mobile devices to verify if I get the same seamless casting experience.

This is critical since I used to share the same issue with others regarding slow casting using Chromecast or using other devices. So far, there are no issues in this device though.

Download Speed Tests

Download speed is one of the most important features when watching large HD files through streaming devices such as this. I’ve conducted a test with a 200 Mbps internet service and 5 GHz band on my Asus AC3100 router.

The VPN that I am using in this speed test is IPVanish which is the fastest VPN available on the market today.  I used the Speed Test tool within the TROYPOINT App to conduct the testing.

With Ethernet and VPN connection turned ON, download speed is just above 50 Mbps and upload speed at 30 Mbps. When VPN is OFF, download speed is close to double when the VPN is ON while upload speed is near 36 Mbps.

With Wi-Fi connection, there’s not really much a difference in both download and upload speeds, slowing down by only 2 to 3 Mbps at most.

Overall Performance

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro proved its worth in terms of device performance.

It’s great for gaming considering the picture clarity, audio quality and microconsole features that make it a solid streaming player.

Similar to the basic SHIELD TV model, I found no serious lags as long as I maintained a reliable internet connection and enough storage space to stream movies seamlessly.

But with all the new features added and downgraded, I find that the device’s overall impact a bit underwhelming considering how long NVIDIA fans have waited for a major update on the device.

Purchase the 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro

What I Don’t Like

Like the basic SHIELD TV model, there are certain features of the NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro that make it frustrating considering that the update has taken a few years to arrive.

Hardware

To make it worse, they’ve also removed the MicroSD slot for storage expansion.

It’s inevitable to be warned with a “low space” message when the unit is about to be full of downloaded content, especially when you’ve already enjoyed building your gaming library.

Take note that the USB ports may also interfere with Bluetooth signals, which can be lost intermittently or degrade in performance.

For the remote control, it still lacks a headphone jack for viewers who want private listening.

It’s the same issue I’ve had in the previous version and it still is a wonder why the makers haven’t thought of integrating such feature when they’ve already thought of adding.

Storage

For those who have gotten used to the old version, a 500GB storage space being reduced to 16GB is disappointing.

Serious gamers are known not to compromise their experience over affordability and this has lead other NVIDIA fans to suspect that it has redirected its marketing efforts towards movie streamers instead.

It does not also move the data of any downloaded application to an external drive so expect for your storage to be used up pretty fast when you’re getting the hang of downloading your favorite games, using the DVR capability of the Plex Media Server to record on a writable location, or using the Camera Upload feature of the server.

Game Controller

Similar to the basic SHIELD TV model, NVIDIA excluded the game controller in this package (which previously came in as part of a bundle).

I don’t see the point of making its gaming feature more advanced but with the missing game controller in the bundle.

2019 nvidia shield tv pro review gaming

New NVIDIA buyers shouldn’t be deprived of the same components that were available in the previous model, in my opinion.

But then again, there are cheaper but equally competitive compatible game controllers available.

In addition, it still doesn’t have a bundled HDMI cable in the package so users need to purchase a separate HDMI 2.0-compliant cable.

Performance

As stated above, there’s really no big difference between the performance of the 2019 and older versions of the Pro edition.

Save for the AI-Enhanced Upscaling and a cool remote control, I find that while I experienced no system crash since I started using it, I get to have the same experience as what I had with the older model.

Price

For a 4K streamer at $199.99, it’s still a bit expensive for such product in this category even if the older version still retails for $279.99 (as of this writing) at Amazon.

If movie and TV streaming is more of a concern to you instead of gaming, other device players such as the Amazon Firestick at $49.99 is good enough for most of your cord-cutting needs.

NVIDIA SHIELD TV Streaming Services

Below are some of the content streaming services that work best with the NVIDIA SHIELD TV.

Features Content Streaming Services
Voice Assistants Google Assistant
Alexa
Apps NVIDIA Games
Netflix
YouTube
Amazon Prime Video
Google Play Movies & TV
Vudu
Amazon Music
Google Play Store
Google Play Music
PLEX
Google Play Games
more
4K Entertainment Netflix
Amazon Prime Video
YouTube
Google Play Movies & TV
Vudu
FandangoNOW
Disney+
Dolby Vision Atmos Netflix
Amazon Prime Video
Vudu
Movies Anywhere
Disney+
Music Spotify
Pandora
Google Play Music
Amazon Music
Apple iTunes

Who is it For?

I recommend the NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro to gaming and streaming fans who want high-end picture quality, more storage than the basic edition, USB port availability, easy-to-use voice search features, and plenty of gaming choices.

If you want to do more than just stream High Definition Movies & TV Shows, then this is a good option instead of the basic SHIELD TV model.

Who is it Not For?

If you just simply want to upgrade your old NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro model, I recommend sticking to your current device instead unless you prefer to have AI picture enhancements and a better processor.

There’s not really a large difference that I have observed, to be frank about it.

Again, if you are just looking to watch Movies and TV Shows, I strongly suggest a cheaper device such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4k.

This provides plenty of power and speed to stream content in the highest definition possible.

Bottom Line

The 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro has long been awaited by streaming fans and cord-cutters since its previous version.

In my opinion, the Tegra X1+ processor does a superb job of supporting the lag-free performance of the device.

The AI-Enhanced Upscaling feature is something that the most discerning streaming fans will surely enjoy.

However, there’s nothing exciting in store for those who want to just upgrade their older model.

Sure it’s much cheaper, but that’s because NVIDIA has taken down some features so we’ll still get what we pay for in the end.

However, for those new to cord-cutting, the Amazon Firestick is still our top recommendation!

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