nVidia Shield TV First Impressions

A few days ago, I wrote about setting up an nVidia Sheild TV set top box and configuring Plex Media Server on it. Now that I’ve had a chance to live with it for a few days, I thought it would be appropriate to share my first impressions of this piece of kit.

Left to right: game controller, media player remote control, pedestal and computer.
nVidia Sheild Android TV Components

Why nVidia Shield?

  • It runs Plex Server! It’s that simple.
  • And it is the most expansive walled garden.
  • And it is hackable with nVidia folk spilling the beans on the nVidia Shield developer forums
  • It is cheap enough to buy one to experiment on.
  • It is capable enough to use for other appliance tasks about the Moocher’s cave.

The Moocher likes it!

This is the set top box I’ve been looking for. This is the AppleTV I’ve been wanting. It is capable, with sufficient memory and I/O ports, to allow it to do other things than be a set top box. This allows it to run PLEX server allowing me to move this role off of my aging Mac Mini. And, as a user, I can’t tell the difference. YouTube, Netflix, and other services work as well as their AppleTV counterparts and better than on my new Roku box.

It is a strong little Acorn RISC Machine box with robust CUDA/OpenCL capabilities in a 256 core graphics environment. It has enough grunt and is eminently hackable allowing one to fulfill many roles for which a costly PC build would otherwise be required. And the cost is low enough to take a flyer on one for experimentation using the developer tools.

Services I have on my Shield

The stock services remain on the box. These are the services I use regularly. Only the Comedy Central and Tablo TV apps are additions to the stock kit.

  • Comedy Central for The Daily Show
  • Google Play Video
  • Google Play Store
  • Netflix
  • PLEX player
  • PLEX server
  • Tablo TV app for live TV viewing and DVRing
  • YouTube

All these work as well as on AppleTV. The Android TV YouTube app has the option of being able to thumb up/down a video in the app. I’ve not been able to do this from AppleTV 3. Maybe in the holiday update.

I’ve used the Chromecast out to play music with the TV off. I’ve not used the Shield as a Chromecast receiver.

Video quality is comparable with that from AppleTV. I’ve not experienced much in the way of buffering delays or stalling during playback. This with an Acronis True Image initial backup going to make my ISP (Cox) unhappy with me for upload volume.

Services I wish I had

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • AppleTV  media player
  • AirPlay receiver

Amazon and Apple don’t play well with others. Each restricts their material to their hardware although both allow AirPlay/Chromecast from tablet apps. I’ve done this in the past but it is a pain to have an iPad tied up to play media.


Added Hardware on Mine

  • WD Passport 1TB USB disk for the media library. This is set up as an external HFS+ disk.
  • nVidia Shield remote control.

The Passport is chugging along after setup as described in the original article. The nVidia Shield remote is the one that should come with the AppleTV. It has similar capabilities but without the twitchy touchpad. AppleTV remote has difficulties moving just 1 row or column in the UI. Shield has no way to move through vast amounts of stuff by flicking but it is this capability that makes the AppleTV remote twitchy. For day to day use, it is a fair trade off.