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Nvidia’s new Shield TV brings 4K HDR, Google Assistant, and smart home features

The new Shield TV brings better image quality, Google Assistant integration, and a bid to become the center of your smart home.

Published onJanuary 5, 2017

Nvidia is refreshing its line of Android TV set-top boxes with the new Shield TV, bringing better image quality, Google Assistant integration, and a bid to become the center of your smart home.

The new Shield TV comes with 4K HDR video support, so you’ll be able to enjoy movies at the best picture quality available, with the caveat that you will need 4K HDR media from a service like Amazon Video. If plain old 4K is good enough, Netflix, YouTube, Google Play or Vudu will do the trick.

While NVIDIA did not talk about the hardware changes in the new Shield TV, it did mention that the streamer offers 3x the performance of competing, unnamed devices on the market. The design of the box has been refreshed, and the device is now bundled with a remote control and a game controller. A Pro version, featuring 500GB of storage and a remote with headset jack, will be also made available.

One of the trends at this year’s CES is the integration of virtual assistants into a variety of products. Amazon’s Alexa, in particular, is seemingly everywhere, but Google is not sitting idle either – the new NVIDIA Shield TV is the first Android TV set-top box that integrates Google Assistant. Previously, the virtual assistant was only available through Google’s Pixels and Home devices.

Shield TV users will be able to talk to their TVs to do things like find movies to watch, open apps or TV episodes, or control playback, in addition to all the normal capabilities of Assistant, like web search and various queries. NVIDIA says Google optimized the Assistant experience to offer visual answers in addition to audio replies.

To facilitate interaction with Assistant on Shield, NVIDIA launched Spot, an “AI mic accessory.” The device lets users interact with Assistant from anywhere in the house, instead of being confined to the listening range of Shield.

Finally, Shield can now act as a SmartThings Hub, allowing you to control SmartThings-compatible devices like lighting fixtures, security cameras, thermostats, and a wide range of appliances.

The new Shield TV is available for pre-order today, for $199.99, including the game controller and remote. The device will ship in US, Canada and select European regions, with in-store availability set for later this month. The 500 GB Shield Pro version, which NVIDIA bills as a “media server,” will become available later this month for $299.99. The Spot microphone will set you back $50 a pop, which is a bit more expensive than we were hoping, but still cheaper than buying multiple Google Homes to place around your house.

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