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The proposition is simple: pack some of today’s best performing mobile hardware into a sandwich shaped box – for streaming video and media, and playing mobile games. For that you need to pay $200-300.

No need to buy one though (seriously, don’t buy one): we’ve giving ours away to one lucky reader!

NVIDIA Shield TV Giveaway

Aesthetics, Peripherals, and Hardware

The Shield TV is over-designed. It takes two mundane hardware concepts – in this case, the HTPC (what’s an HTPC? Media Streamer, Media Player or HTPC: Which One Is For You? Media Streamer, Media Player or HTPC: Which One Is For You? Read More ) and mini-PC – and crams as much firepower as possible into a 130 x 210mm box. The end result is a sandwich-sized computer capable of Wi-Fi Direct WiFi Direct: Windows Wireless File Transfer That's Faster Than Bluetooth WiFi Direct: Windows Wireless File Transfer That's Faster Than Bluetooth Wireless data sharing from a Windows 8 computer to another device comes with its challenges. With Bluetooth and WiFi Direct we tested two popular and widely available solutions. This is what we found... Read More , gaming, media streaming, and 4K video. You can’t play all of the latest PC games – it only plays mobile games and a handful of PC ports. However, using GeForce Now, gamers can stream games onto their gaming machine.

Specifications

  • NVIDIA Tegra X1 octacore CPU + 256-core Maxwell GPU.
  • 16GB flash memory storage ($200) or a 500GB SSHD ($300).
  • Unknown amount of RAM, possibly 3GB of LPDDR3.
  • microSD card slot.
  • Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11ac, and dual band wireless.
  • 4K playback at 60 FPS; 1080p playback at 120 FPS.
  • Remote control.
  • Wireless gamepad.
  • Buyer’s remorse.
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The octa-core (what’s an octa-core CPU? Is an Octa-Core Better than a Quad-Core? Not Always! Android Processors Explained Is an Octa-Core Better than a Quad-Core? Not Always! Android Processors Explained More cores don't necessarily mean a faster processor. Read More ) configuration used inside of the Shield TV isn’t designed for set-top-boxes. It uses what’s called a big.LITTLE configuration, meaning it pairs four high-performance processing cores alongside four high-efficiency cores. In theory, the combination of high and low-performance cores should allow for improved battery performance and reduced heat production – perfect for a tablet or smartphone. It’s a complete mismatch for a continuously plugged-in computer. NVIDIA’s decision to use a mobile processor on a sedentary device is more than puzzling.

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nvidia-shield-tv-profile

In terms of included peripherals, the NVIDIA Shield TV offers a single gamepad. The gamepad functions as a remote control for the user interface, as well as a control for games. For lack of a better description, the controller feels like a clone of the Xbox Controller – it’s built like a tank and offers a few gimmicks, including a volume slider, and touch sensitive system buttons. But make no mistake – NVIDIA for some reason failed to include an accelerometer inside of the Shield Controller, which makes playing a lot of mobile games a great deal more difficult.

nvidia-shield-controller

Two optional peripherals include a vertical stand ($30) and a media center remote control ($50). Both options come at an uncomfortable price-point. The HTPC remote – in particular – seems to fall short in functionality. It includes just a few simple buttons, the most interesting being its ability to trigger Google Now’s voice recognition with just the touch of a button. Its worst feature is its lack of an accelerometer, which would have allowed it to function as an Air Mouse. (Seven kinds of HTPC remotes. 7 Amazing Kinds of HTPC & Media Center Remote Controls 7 Amazing Kinds of HTPC & Media Center Remote Controls Got a media center? Ever get tired of fumbling around with a full sized keyboard and mouse while trying to watch Hulu or Netflix? Not only can some controls dispense with the nasty tangle of... Read More ) Overall, the Shield TV’s users shouldn’t even bother buying one, as a fair number of Android Compatible devices exist that do offer motion controls, at a much cheaper-price point.

Software and Configuration

The high point of the Shield TV is that it offers a highly polished, slick-as-ice, user interface and software design. The operating system underneath all the shine is Android Marshmallow. But NVIDIA chose to apply a beautiful and highly functional skin. It feels like a combination between a tablet interface and a media center. Content divides between media, apps, and games.

Like any Android device, users just enter their account information (if any), install their favorite apps via the Google Play Store, and get started consuming media. The majority of the Shield TV revolves around Google’s ecosystem of applications, which now includes a library of video, games, music, and podcasts. In my experience, Google’s flurry of updates to its media apps puts it on-par with that of Amazon or Apple. Combined with the microphone inside of the Shield TV, accessing your files through voice recognition feels simple, intuitive and — quite frankly — amazing. But anyone with an Android device can get the exact same feature suite, without paying for a separate set-top-box. In fact, any mainstream tablet can wirelessly output its audio and video to a television.

Making Use of the NVIDIA Shield TV

First and foremost, the Shield TV’s design should appeal to those looking to stream media at 4K resolutions. I don’t own any 4K content and my television is 720P. In short, NVIDIA did not design the Shield TV for users like me. But even so, there’s a lot users can do with the Shield. NVIDIA packages its own games application inside of the Shield. It includes a lot of titles that have been optimized for performance with NVIDIA’s hardware. So, unlike a lot of third party tablets, the graphics and performance of content played on the Shield are high-end and without bugs. I played a few titles, including Asphalt 8 and War Thunder — both ran without problems, although the lack of accelerometer support for the Shield Controller takes a lot away from the gaming experience. Unlike on a tablet, users can’t steer by twisting the controller.

Overall, I much prefer gaming on a tablet, console, or PC. The Shield feels like a relatively poor option as a gaming platform.

The most interesting ability of the Shield TV is its ability to stream content from any newer Android device, without configurating. Users simply turn the Shield TV on and they can immediately begin streaming media content, if their smartphone or tablet app includes Wi-Fi Direct compatibility (compatibility is indicated by the Wi-Fi Direct icon, as pictured below).

pocketcasts-nvidia-shield-tv

The NVDIA Shield TV’s Tragic, Deal-Breaking Problems

One irritating feature you might notice after configuring the Shield TV is that all your network devices, including computers and smartphones, will perform slightly slower than before. My download and upload speeds dropped off by around 20% – for every single device in my apartment. Here’s a screenshot of my network performance before plugging in the Shield:

nvidia-shield-tv-murders-wifi

My home network download speeds, prior to turning on the NVIDIA Shield, are around 7.5 Mbps downstream and 1.5 upstream. After plugging in the Shield, my download speeds fall to under 6 Mbps.

nvidia-shield-tv-after-murder

A sudden drop off in Wi-Fi performance usually means Wi-Fi congestion. (Why Wi-Fi performance drops off. When Defaults Are Bad: How To Pick a Unique Wireless Channel For Your Router When Defaults Are Bad: How To Pick a Unique Wireless Channel For Your Router Wired ethernet will always be better than wireless connections, but sometimes you don’t have a choice - all manner of mobile devices need wifi. There is however one very basic step you can take which... Read More ) When two or more devices broadcast over the exact same frequency (or frequency channel), the transmission becomes garbled, reducing network performance. It’s like trying to understand a conversation in a crowded room – you might hear a few words, but noise pollution greatly slows down the conservation.

After checking around with Wi-Fi Analyzer app (how to fix Wi-Fi slowdown How to Fix a Slow or Unstable Wi-Fi Connection How to Fix a Slow or Unstable Wi-Fi Connection One simple trick could speed up your Wi-Fi connection. We explain the issue, how to analyze Wi-Fi networks around you, and how to use the information to speed up your Wi-Fi connection. Read More ), it appears that the Shield TV automatically begins broadcasting its own Wi-Fi Direct signal on my home network, adjusting its channel to whatever my router is broadcasting on. Wi-Fi Direct allows the direct transmission between an Android or Intel device of media. But normally Wi-Fi Direct must be enabled and switched on by the user. NVIDIA seems to believe that users prefer the feature being turned on by default. Perhaps they do, but there is no obvious means of switching off Wi-Fi Direct, without also turning off Wi-Fi. And without Wi-Fi turned on, the Shield cannot stream media.

WiFi Analyzer shows overlapping networks

One might reason that they could just turn the Shield TV off to eliminate Wi-Fi Direct. But pressing the Shield TV’s power button does not turn off or suspend the device. In fact, the fan often keeps spinning and the device feels warm to the touch even while its power light is switched off. That means it’s not really suspended and it’s still fully functional. Turning the Shield off requires navigating a maze of menus and sub-menus. Ultimately, the Shield TV is one of those devices that will drive up your power bill while at the same time slowing your entire network down.

Should You Buy an NVIDIA Shield TV?

The NVIDIA Shield TV remains one of the most curious oddities ever made. It packs in the state-of-the-art in hardware in order to fulfill the modest needs of a media center. It features an elegant and rich user interface which is squandered on a device that you’ll rarely want to use because of its impact on network performance. Overall, it’s an unwieldy equilibrium between over-design and simply poor design.

Our verdict of the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro:
Absolutely do not buy. It’s a great device for sucker-punching your Wi-Fi performance in the face, running up your power bill, and generally failing as a gaming platform.
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  1. chatterbox
    August 18, 2016 at 8:58 am

    I'm having very similar problems with my Shield TV. In my case it seems to affect my internal wifi throughput more than internet traffic. First noticed something was wrong when I did the initial Shield update that was just over 900mb, the first 150mb was quick, then my entire wifi network started crawling, for all devices connected. The update dropped to dial-up speeds, literally.
    This was quickly resolved when I moved my modem and hardwired the Shield to it - the update finished in under a minute.

    I stream full quality bluray movies wirelessly over Kodi from my NAS, so this is the ultimate test for the Shield. Sadly, it couldn't manage to get enough bandwidth to play these files, started buffering within seconds.
    Then I noticed I had the same issue using Kodi on my Mac (which normally streams without a glitch) Powered off the Shield and bam, Kodi on Mac streams 100% again.

    So I decided to run some numbers, using LAN Speed Test on my Mac I got the following results, consistently doing 5+ tests each:
    With the Shield on the network: 28Mb/s dl
    With Shield powered off: 48Mb/s dl

    To stream full quality blueray you need at least 35Mb so that explains the poor performance.

    We could blame my router, but I get the same issue when disabling it's wifi and only using a wifi extender/powerline, hardwired directly to the router.
    Technically, having the controller broadcast it's own network on the exact same channel as my wifi shouldn't cause such big performance hit, but it does. Maybe that's not the main cause but it's definately not helping.
    Just to add my router is broadcasting at 2.4ghz but it's not crowded in the least. The channel I use is clean with only a slight overlap.

    I'm stuck, I really wanted to like the Shield but it's useless to me in it's current form. I'll play around for a few more days but it's most likely going back for a refund.

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 22, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      If it is trampling on other WiFi signals, then it should impact internal network transfer speeds more than Internet speeds, since there's more room for loss on a fast network.

      Have you tried changing the router's channel? I tried changing the channel, but the "hotspot" generated by the Shield also changed channel to match -- which again resulted in a drop-off in network speeds. Using the WiFi analyzer app indicated that it did not initially change its channel, but it may have later switched over.

      The 5GHz spectrum includes over 20 distinct channels, which means plenty of room for wireless devices. The Shield shouldn't impact network performance if it created a WiFi Direct hotspot on an unimpacted channel. The problem seems to be that it's somehow not changing its channel to an unimpacted channel.

      • chatterbox
        August 22, 2016 at 6:19 pm

        I've tried pretty much every channel on the 2.4ghz band. It's not consistently bad though, there are times when it doesn't impact the network too badly but those moments are short lived.

        Another issue I'm having, with the Shield on wifi and using my headphones connected to the Shield controller, I get intermittent crackling noises. When I connect the Shield to LAN cable, the headphones sound perfectly clean.
        Again, this would indicate wireless interference.

        I have an open support case with Nvidia on this, will see what they come up with.
        Maybe a firmware update could get the Shield to use another channel.

        • Kannon Yamada
          August 22, 2016 at 7:09 pm

          That makes sense. Unfortunately, I failed to test out the headphone-controller interface and can't offer much of an explanation as to why it's doing it. You are probably correct about this issue, though.

          What's crazy is that EVERYTHING I've read about Wi-Fi Direct suggests it should reduce WiFi congestion, not increase it. But for some reason it seems to not properly adjust its channel. You and I are not the only people to report problems with Wi-Fi Direct causing slower network speeds. Apparently, the Roku now uses the technology and reports abound on it slowing networks down:

          https://forums.roku.com/viewtopic.php?t=74898&start=210

          Read Alamei's response, which is really well written and fully explains what we're going through.

          In the link above, it appears that WiFi Direct is designed to automatically switch channels to the most optimum. That's almost always going to be the same channel as the router. Unfortunately, on a network with a lot of traffic, that might mean the device is switching to an impacted channel. That shouldn't be an issue as (in theory) you can have overlapping devices on the same channel. But even so, it's always better to have fewer signals on a channel.

    • Kannon Yamada
      September 20, 2016 at 9:39 pm

      Were you ever able to fix the issue? It would seem that a triband router might do the trick, since it can generate a separate SSID with its own channel for the Shield to run on.

    • chatterbox
      September 22, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Nvidia support offered to RMA the Shield but I've since connected it VIA ethernet. I'm not sure it's worth the effort and risk of receiving a refurbished unit with other possible issues.
      It functions very well over ethernet.

  2. Dan
    August 16, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Device gives one reviewer 20% slower network speeds, and of course, it must be a problem with all of the devices...0.0001% of users have problems, so rate it 2/10. If it was me writing the review, I would have done a bit more research/testing before writing such a review. But hey, if you had given it an 8/10, you would have only gotten 1/10th the comments and 1/3rd the views...so yeah, good job? Too bad I won't be trusting much/any other reviews on this site at this point.

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 22, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      The low score generally means fewer views, since this is a giveaway. Also, I didn't choose that review score, by the way.

      For streaming 4K, this is easily the best device on the market. My review should reflect some fairly poor security practices. WiFi Direct apparently has some problems.

  3. Player911
    July 30, 2016 at 2:05 am

    I am experiementing in building an arcade box. I have been playing with the Ouya (my fav), Rasberry Pi 3, and my Asus Google TV. All have strengths and weaknesses but none are good enough to pass the test. The Ouya is close but mine is dying. I am tempted to buy another Ouya but I can't settle on spending $60 on a 3 year old box when the money would be better suited to invest in newer gen. My GPD Handheld is a fantastic device.

    I would love to win the Shield for a comparison and whether it stacks up for an arcade build or not.

  4. bob
    July 28, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    This is the fastest android console out there and for that reason alone it should not be rated low.

    There are roms for this that make it behave like a normal android for those that feel boxed in by the simple TV setup they use. With it I can load most google play software and it runs them faster than any thing else other than an android emulator on a fast PC. Updating the rom to non-nvidia is recommended by this user.

    Though I am not a fan boy (someone that defends a product beyond reason) I have gotten many android consoles and this one stands head and body above the rest as far as processor speed. Extremely high benchmarks for this thing.

  5. spamserv
    July 17, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Who won the giveaway?

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 17, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      We won't know until sometime during the week. Whoever is handling the drawing probably is taking the weekend off.

  6. Howard Blair
    July 7, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    "NVIDIA’s decision to use a mobile processor on a sedentary device is more than puzzling."

    Not really...using an existing CPU configuration saves development time and dollars, and the low-power CPU(s) are perfect for video playback, which will probably be handled entirely by the GPU.

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 11, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      I believe that was in reference to the big.LITTLE configuration, which pairs four big cores with four little cores. Certainly using an existing design makes sense, but why use one of the more expensive processors out there when they could have leveraged another IP, like Denver 2, which wasn't very power efficient. The original Denver CPU architecture included features like wake on voice, which would have allowed the device to exit a sleep state using just your voice. There's a lot of smart home features that could have been packed into the Shield TV that weren't.

  7. ShaunDoo
    July 4, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Need a newer development device, Unity3d stopped supporting the one I currently use. :/ No Unity 5 for me! (And it's a quad core, what?.

  8. Candan
    July 4, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Looks like crazy faster!

  9. hunterwesson
    July 3, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    I appreciate your criticisms Kannon. All the Nvidia fanboys gush over this machine, so much it is difficult to sort out the hype from the reality at times. Broadcasting a Wi-Fi Direct signal without asking for permission from the user is insecure and paramount to malware, according to Richard Stallman's definition.

    Can you suggest any decent alternatives to the shield? I would really like to see it pitted head-to-head against the Mad Cats M.O.J.O or cheap Chinese Amlogic s905-based TV box to see if it is really worth the 600% price difference.

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 11, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      sorry for the late response! Thank you for the kind words. I really got smashed on this review and perhaps deservedly so. I'm not going to change my score, though, as no one has pointed out why it's OK to broadcast a Wi-Fi direct signal, without allowing users to turn it off or configure it.

      To my knowledge, the Shield TV remains the best device for streaming 4k media, despite its issues with Wi-Fi. Given some of the comments here, the fault my be on my end -- but even if it is, the Shield doesn't appear to do any channel hopping or self-optimization. I can't test this until at least a week from now, though.

      Over at MakeUseOf, Dave LeClair prefers the Kangaroo Mobile Desktop for Windows and the G-Box Q2 for Android. Neither box offers the same raw performance as the Shield TV, but they're half the price and do similar things, except they aren't 4K devices. I, too, really want to see the devices you've mentioned reviewed. I suspect that these devices aren't really so different from one another to justify the bloated price differential.

  10. Mike
    July 3, 2016 at 3:09 am

    I own a nvidia shield tv and this guy's review is very misleading. Never experienced the drop in my WiFi performance like he describes. Now I do have a netgear ac1900 dual band router(2 or 3 yes old now) and my own cable modem. I also have a 75mb connection with 10mb upload speed and I only pay $49 a month for that. Who gets 8mb in 2016 and I bet he's using a bs DSL gateway(modem+router) from his ISP and those all are going to suck. I ditched my TV service and just use this and have Netflix,Hulu, amazon prime(use built in Chromecast to play from tablet), pluto, crackle, hbogo(my dads subscription+use Chromecast), Plex, and I could and I could go on with just the TV services alone. Then I have my Nvidia based PC that I can play or should I say my friends can play on the TV with a controller because they're not liking to use a keyboard on any of my games that I own and I can play mobile games and there's some decent Nvidia exclusive games that are not exactly mobile platform and only exist on Nvidia that are really good an optimized and run well. If you live in 2016 and you have decent equipment and you want an awesome TV set-top box this is the one I would pick hands down. My roommate who lives in the basement has an Apple TV and he always comes up here to use this because his s*** can do barely anything compared to what this can do. The guy who wrote this review just doesn't know what he's talking about he can't even cover all the features on the controller and leaves off totally that there's a Bluetooth remote that you can buy or you can find bundled on sales but at most it's $49. There's no other set-top box that holds 500 gigabytes either and I use that to my advantage and store all my movies on here and broadcast them to my cell phone and my tablet from Plex now with the new update that just hit the other day. It also has the GeForce now, which is something that nothing else compares to. Do yourself a favor and when this guy's Nvidia Shield that he doesn't care for or go buy you one and you won't be disappointed.

  11. king kunta
    July 2, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    I thought this was a Chris Chase article

  12. Kannon Yamada
    July 2, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    My reviews suck!

  13. JV
    July 2, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    I'll gladly take it off your hands :-)

  14. FriedPenguin
    July 2, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Such troll, much wowe. Commentors have written a better review than the author! And I'm with the commentors. 8Mb internet and 720P display? Sorry, this is 2016 not 2006. At least hook it up to a 1080P display. Compare some streaming across the LAN if your internet sucks as bad as your review. And what the fudge with the Twitter login thing wanting permission to change things? Your trolling for more traffic was successful but only to show you as a failure.

  15. Prabhath K
    July 2, 2016 at 5:25 am

    I really wanna win this.

  16. Dude
    July 2, 2016 at 4:53 am

    Where did these screenshots of your connection speed come from? Those are definitely not from an Android based shield, and look more like a screenshot from the actual website aka computer browser. I know because I'm looking right at my TV while running a speedtest on my shield pro. Seeing as I had to side load the apk since it's not official supported by Android TVs play store, and you don't even know how to turn your shield off so I don't think you went that route. I'm questioning your the authenticity of your results. Honestly, did you even test this unit before you wrote this review?

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 2, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      Those are my network speeds after plugging in the NVIDIA Shield. The issue is that the Shield automatically changes its Wi-Fi Direct channel to whatever channel the router is on, which causes a reduction in network performance.

  17. Jwn2
    July 2, 2016 at 2:47 am

    There's any number of reasons to see a drop in network performance... Or Download speeds rather. Time of day affects download speeds, as you said, network congestion, router issues, location. A better test to see if it is actually the shield causing the issues would be to transfer a file, locally, amongst your network. Internet download speeds can be inconsistent; I just did 3 tests with speedtest.net and got significantly different speeds each time (29, 40, and 89). As you describe it, I would guess adding any item to your network would cause a 20% loss.

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 2, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      I ran it several times and got the same results each time. Just unplugging the Shield causes network performance to improve.

  18. Dude
    July 2, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Wifi direct issues bringing you down? Do you have the same issues with any Roku device? Or how about any tablet running Android 5.0 and above? Same applies to android smartphones. I ask because these products constantly broadcast their wifi direct signals as well, and have yet to ever have the problem you're suggesting the shield does. Also the drop from 7.6 to 5.9mbs is a poor excuse to give this product a 2/10 rating because a drop that miniscule can happen by walking in between your access point and the shield. That speedtest alone suggests you have bigger issues with your internet, or you're using your phone as a mobile hotspot in a third world country.

    Btw I give your editor a 2/10 for agreeing to post this

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 2, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      The issue is that the Shield automatically engages Wi-Fi Direct and has no obvious means of shutting it down. Wi-Fi Direct creates a link between another device and the Shield, so it's almost like a Wi-Fi hotspot. The Shield automatically changes its channel to whatever your network is on, so it causes a universal decrease in network performance, so matter what channel you've switched over to.

  19. Zach
    July 2, 2016 at 2:29 am

    I own two Shield TVs. They certainly aren't for everyone, and you don't seem to be a target market for the device. The Shield TV excels at doing 4 things: 4k HDR video decoding, local gaming with Android games and with games made specifically for the Shield TV, game streaming from your PC or through the cloud, and for its media center chops in decoding diverse audio and video formats without getting bogged down.

    I'm confused why MakeUseOf decided to have someone review a device who clearly isn't a member of the target audience for the Shield TV. You tick off, at best, only one, single box in the target audience category for this device. Since you don't have a 4k TV, that's not going to be a selling point for you. You didn't use the Shield TV for steaming games from your PC (or at least didn't mention it in your article), and streaming games from Nvidia's cloud streaming service for games didn't seem to resonate with you. You also don't seem to have a local media server that can serve diverse audio and video formats to the Shield TV, which the Shield excels at decoding.

    I do agree that the big.LITTLE configuration is a mismatch. There's a reason for that, though. The Tegra SoC, which is the heart of the Shield TV, is made for general purpose use in a wide array of low-power scenarios, including mobile devices. It would introduce a large cost increase if Nvidia started creating custom chips for specific use cases. It's not like having the processors in that configuration is hurting anything. The current setup has power to spare for running just about anything you can throw at it other than native PC gaming.

    I also agree that the peripherals are unneeded and overpriced, but it's not like they add anything that you don't already get with the basic package, so they're far from required if you don't see the value in them. The $50 remote is very pretty, clad in brushed aluminum on the back and glossy, black plastic on the front. It also comes with a touch sensitive area for volume control and a microphone for voice control. However, you can get a refurbished Logitech Harmony Hub with the basic remote for about the same price and control your entire media center rather than just your Shield TV. The stand, at $30, is comically expensive, considering it's just a hunk of plastic.

    So, a number of things about your wireless issues:
    1. The controller that comes with the Shield TV runs via WiFi Direct. It doesn't have a BT or RF fallback. For this reason, the Shield TV broadcasts its WiFi Direct SSID so the controller can connect. I'd really like to see an option for hiding the SSID so it doesn't confuse people when they see an additional WiFi network all the time.

    2. This is anecdotal, but I've never heard anyone make similar claims to yours about significant wireless attenuation from the Shield's implementation of Wifi Direct. I'm active on a number of user forums for set top boxes and related software development (yes, I'm a huge nerd). Maybe it's an issue for some and no one has noticed it, but I'm skeptical of your results without further network analysis. A simple spectrum analysis isn't conclusive proof for the issues you're seeing. You might consider doing some network monitoring like packet sniffing and logging on your router to see if WiFi direct is truly the issue. It could simply be that the Shield TV was downloading firmware or app updates and that ate into your internet bandwidth.

    3. The amount of extra traffic you see on your network shouldn't be anymore than if a neighbor happens to be using the same wireless channel as you are (and likely less since there's next to no traffic coming from the network other than when it advertises its SSID). The 802.11 standard has a number of built-in protections that should Shield you (no pun intended) from seeing anything close to the attenuation you're seeing from the Shield TV. Unless, maybe, you have the Shield TV sitting on top of your wireless access point.

    4. Even an older 802.11n WAP far outpaces your internet connection as far as throughput is concerned. With a poor wireless connection, you should be seeing at least 10-20 Mbps of througput. You're not getting close to that if the Shield TV is attenuating your connection to the extent that you can't maintain 10 Mbps down. Considering this, my concern would be more in the realm of upgrading your router/WAP or investing in a WiFi extender or bridge. Alternatively, the Shield TV could have been downloading app or firmware updates, which can certainly eat into your overall throughput.

    5. I experience no such reduction in throughput on my network. I pay for 105 Mbps down/20 Mpbs up, and I have no issues reaching those speeds on my network. Even with local content, I see speeds of over 300 Mbps over my 802.11ac network. For the average person who streams content over the internet or locally, there shouldn't be any noticeable change in their wireless connection.

    I would like to make two corrections to your article:
    1. There's no internal microphone in the Shield TV. The voice input comes from your remote/controller or from the Android TV remote app that you can install on your phone or tablet.

    2. You can turn off the Shield TV while it's not in use by holding the power button the device itself or by selecting the power options icon on the last row of icons on the Shield's home screen and then selecting "Power off", which powers off the device rather than just simply disabling AV output.

  20. Harvey Danger
    July 2, 2016 at 1:36 am

    The Shield TV is a device for power users; if you've got 8mbps internet and a 720p TV, that's not you!

    The reason WiFi direct runs constantly is because it's how the controller connects to the console. WiFi direct is used as opposed to say, Bluetooth because it reduces latency; important when you're trying to stream a game at 1080p and 60fps (something current gen consoles struggle to do and they're rendering locally!).

    If you never wanted to connect your powerful gaming PC to your HDTV then a large part of the Shield is going to be lost on you.

    One part of your review that I can agree with is that the controller/remote should have an accelerometer. Hopefully they'll integrate that in future revisions.

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 2, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      I should have made that point clear -- the Shield is for those who want to stream high quality media to their 4K. It's great for that purpose. But even those people probably don't want to see a loss in network performance.

  21. Dude
    July 2, 2016 at 12:46 am

    OK OK I'm made for even reading this. First, it's got an Ethernet cable so try it. Second, hold the power button for ten seconds and it shuts down. Third, stop writing tech reviews for products you clearly don't understand. It's obvious because you don't have anything to compare this to. As the previous commenter mentioned this is a multimedia consumption beast with consistent updates to its OS, Kodi, and baked in Plex transcoding capabilities. Your writing makes you sound like a spoiled brat.

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 2, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      An ethernet cable shouldn't solve its issues with Wi-Fi Direct. It would still continue to broadcast on the same channel as the rest of the network, which would cause network speeds to drop off.

  22. Unsubscribe
    July 1, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    This is quite possibly the worst review of a product I have ever seen.

    First of all, the product was released over a year ago so the review is quite late to even be relevant.

    Second, it's not Nvidia or anyone else's fault you have a 720p TV, and a terrible internet connection. Maybe you should stick to VHS tapes so you don't bog down your connection.

    Third, you list the amount of RAM as "Unknown amount of RAM, possibly 3GB of LPDDR3" but Nvidia's own website lists it as 3GB of RAM. Was that so hard to find? You also list buyer's remorse as a spec, which would be funny if this wasn't a semi-reputable tech website. It really just makes you look unprofessional.

    Finally, 2/10. Really? A 2/10. Did the device crash while you were using it? Did it catch on fire? Did it make you cry? I owned an Ouya once and even that I would say is a 4 or 5/10. I get that you are unable to utilize it's key features but that doesn't make it a terrible device. And why would you be giving it to your readers if it's so terrible? I really hope the person who wins this Shield TV uses it and loves it because it's definitely not a 2/10 device.

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 2, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Well, 8Mbps is a standard aDSL speed and common for those who live outside of a city center or in an area with bad Internet performance. I didn't choose 2/10, someone else did. Everything else in the review is my fault, though.

  23. Kannon Yamada
    July 1, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    I should have mentioned its ability to function in a similar capacity as a Steam Link. That's a big selling point. The Shield is great for the purposes you've mentioned. But it's definitely not the device for me. It's not the right device for people who download or stream a lot of content either, since a 20% hit on network performance might prevent someone with a shaky or weak Internet connection from streaming media.

    My signal strength is pretty good last I checked. It was around -60 dBm. Should it be higher? (or lower, depending on your perspective.) I'm curious as to whether or not it has a similar impact on your network speeds.

    As someone with technical experience, I've got to ask you this: why does the Shield spin its fans up while suspended? Why does it switch on Wi-Fi Direct by default? There's a lot about its design that escapes me.

    • Zach
      July 2, 2016 at 3:36 am

      -60 dB is acceptable if not a little high. I prefer to see in the mid 50's, but you shouldn't be seeing any significant issues at that signal strength. Once you get into the mid 60's, you'll start to see reliability issues with your connection.

      I've tried to reproduce your WiFi Direct issues on my network, but I can't seem to do so. I unplugged both my Shield TVs and it had no significant effect on either my latency or my throughput. To add to that, I've never heard of anyone having the issues you've had, and I'm active on a few set top box user forums, so that's something that almost certainly would have popped up if it were an issue. A spectrum analysis is far from conclusive proof that WiFi direct is the culprit of your internet woes. The problems you describe are more likely to do with the Shield TV downloading firmware or app updates. Do you do any type of network monitoring or logging that would let you check to see how much bandwidth the Shield TV was using during those network tests? With a 10 Mbps download speed, it could takes a few hours or more to download the newest firmware update for the Shield TV and nearly as long to download apps depending on how many apps you're putting on the device.

      • Kannon Yamada
        July 2, 2016 at 7:40 pm

        I didn't notice any latency issue (which is odd). I'm wondering whether or not I may have fundamentally misunderstood the underlying technology of Wi-Fi Direct. Bluetooth does a really neat trick where it automatically optimizes its channel to better fit onto a crowded network. I assumed Wi-Fi Direct did the same thing, but it may be that it's just on a set channel or that it does not self-optimize.

        It may be possible that I moved my network over to the same channel that the Shield was on (which would have been stupidity on my part). It was lazy of me to not test file transfer speeds on the same network.

        I'm on an extended vacation at the moment, but will test this out after returning.

    • Zach
      July 2, 2016 at 3:49 am

      The Shield TV doesn't actually suspend like you'd expect a PC to do when you put the device to sleep. It just disables AV output. It's still pumping on all cylinders. By holding the capacitive power button for 10 seconds or by selecting "Power off" from the power settings that can be found on the last row of icons on your home screen, you can suspend the system. At the same time, I've never heard the fan on either of my Shield TVs unless I'm running benchmark suites. If you have a Pro model, what you're probably hearing is the hard disk.

      WiFi Direct is on by default because the bundled controller can only communicate via WiFi Direct. If it became disabled or were ever disabled without some other user input device connected, you'd be SOL

      • Kannon Yamada
        July 2, 2016 at 7:41 pm

        It's the fan that's running, but it may have had to do with the slew of firmware updates that the device went through.

  24. Michael Rivers
    July 1, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    I've had one since last year while also owning a Nexus player, both fire tvs, and two htpcs... This is objectively the most useful and I've seen no wifi performance hit. It's not a gaming machine for me and only rating it based on your network performance and it's gaming prowess is a bit disingenuous IMO.

    • Kannon Yamada
      July 1, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      The network performance hit is not something you would notice since it does not impact latency very much. It impacts overall download speeds. I tested multiple times with the Shield TV turned off and turned on. The impact was a consistent -20% on network speeds.

      There are specific use cases in which there will be no noticeable hit on performance, but for the majority of homes, it should have a similar impact. This is bad. Like really, really bad. It's rare that a device actually causes these sorts of problems. If I am in error on this, please let me know so I can update the review.

      The impact would not be nearly as negative did it not do this automatically and without an option to switch it off. If it could be fixed without shutting off Wi-Fi, I would definitely give it a much higher score.

      • Zach
        July 2, 2016 at 3:59 am

        I mentioned in a reply to another one of your comments, but you're the only person I've ever heard of that has had an adverse impact on network performance just by connecting a Shield TV to your WiFi network. I have half a dozen friends nearby that have never had this issue, and I'm part of a few set top box user forums where an issue like this would be reported immediately if anyone had encountered it. Based on the fact that it's been on the market for over a year now, if your issue had been experienced by anyone else, it likely would have been reported by now. I'm guessing that because the firmware update that was released a few days ago is about 1GB and your WAN throughput is 10 Mbps down, the Shield was probably downloading firmware or app updates throughout your time reviewing the device. The only way I can determine that your issue would be from WiFi Direct is if you put the Shield TV on top of your wireless access point of if it were very near the access point and was blocking the signal between the AP and your computer.

        • Zach
          July 2, 2016 at 4:19 am

          You should also consider running persistent LAN and WAN throughput and latency tests to determine a baseline for both. Then run those same tests with the Shield connected to your WiFi. When I say persistent, I mean run a suite of tests for a day or two and log min, max, and mean throughput and latency. Doing a simple 30 second speed test isn't really indicative of anything but how fast your throughput was for those 30 seconds. The difference between 8 Mbps and 6 Mbps might seem large when compared relatively, but plenty of downstream network issues or even environmental issues could account for those issues. Did you try connecting your computer to your router with an Ethernet cable to see if the issue was from RFI and not from your Shield TV just downloading things. My big issue is that you're giving the Shield TV a low score based on the fact that it reduced your download speed by 2Mbps, but you gave essentially 0 evidence other than a spectrum analysis that the Shield TV was the culprit. A spectrum analysis without network logs is proof of very little.

  25. likefun butnot
    July 1, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Counterpoint: The Shield is a fantastic set top platform for Kodi and in fact is the target device for SPMC, an Android-focused fork from the guy who had been porting Kodi to Android in the first place. As of earlier this week, it's also the single Android device certified to act as a transcoding Plex Media Server.
    The Shield can act as a streaming game link from a sufficiently powerful PC with nVidia graphics, something that works really well on a home LAN. You'll get about 2/3 the frame rate on your TV that you do on your host computer, which I believe is comparable to what you'd get from Steam Link.

    Speaking to the idea that Wifi direct creates interference, this is much less an issue if your 802.11 source (AP/router/extenders) have powerful enough transceivers and antennas in the first place. Anyone with neighbors within 30m probably has competing WLANs on the same radio frequencies anyway. Even if you're losing 15% of your wireless bandwidth to this new source of contention, because of how 802.11 works (sharing bandwidth among connected clients etc), this is something users really aren't going to to subjectively notice from moment to moment.

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