The NVIDIA SHIELD platform promises a new twist on 4K streaming
Stephan Jukic – April 28, 2015
Nvidia has built a name for itself as one of the pioneers when it comes to developing technologies that make 4K graphics work properly and smoothly on our display machines.
This applies particularly to their collection of video cards for PCs, which are not only some of the best on the market at rendering 4K graphics but are also designed to be as friendly to ultra HD-ready connectivity as possible. For example, Nvidia’s GTX 980 GPU cards are possibly the only ones on the market right now that can connect to your 4K PC via HDMI 2.0 cable and this is a deliberate design feature aimed directly at facilitating 4K graphics.
Furthermore, Nvidia has made itself into a major player when it comes to the technologies and key graphics products that go into many handheld gaming devices, PCs, cloud gaming platforms and even tablets.
In other words, Nvidia has put some serious sweat and elbow grease into making as sure as possible that gamers can game at the best possible graphics settings whenever and wherever they want to do it
Thus, with these tendencies of the chip maker in mind, we can be fairly sure that the new Nvidia 4K streaming SHIELD device for the living room is something that both gamers and content lovers are going to like.
The company announced the SHIELD as a device for the living room gaming environment that’s based on Google’s new Android TV platform. Thus, at least in part, the device could be viewed as a Google/Nvidia version of Microsoft’s Xbox One or Sony’s Playstation 4 systems.
However, this also isn’t a completely apt comparison, because Nvidia SHIELD is more than just a gaming delivery platform. And this is also what makes it so interesting.
The thing is that while Xbox One and Playstation 4 are all about the gaming experience, the digital community connections around these games and the game consoles themselves, SHIELD is about delivering something rather different in certain crucial ways.
In the case of the Nvidia SHIELD, the manufacturer wants to deliver to its users a broader spectrum of entertainment that goes beyond the simple process of gaming over the web from your home TV. SHIELD not only wants to offer gaming in smooth, glitch-free 4K, it also wants to give users a wide, rich, ultra HD media experience that also happens to include awesome games in HD and 4K resolution.
For starters, SHIELD is designed with the streaming of beautiful 4K ultra HD videos with Dolby 7.1 audio through Google’s Android TV ecosystem. In addition to this, the system’s Tegra X1 processor lets SHIELD users play back their 4K content at a smooth and latency free 60 frames per second. This excellent feature is further augmented by full hardware support for the VP9 and HEVC/H.265 codecs user by Google and pretty much every other 4K media provider in the world to compress their UHD videos.
These are features you won’t find with even the best of Nvidia’s or anybody else’s graphics cards.
SHIELD and the Tegra X1 will also be some of the first devices of their kind in the world to support the dual connectivity essentials of HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. While many 4K TVs support both of these, both features are not normally found in any other type of media device anywhere, even if you include 4K devices. This means some serious future-proofing for upcoming ultra HD video formats and content sources.
In a certain sense, the Nvidia SHIELD is more like a mix between the gaming platforms mentioned above and Roku or Apple TV. However, while Roku is definitely now heading for a major 4K media upgrade, Apple TV hasn’t quite gotten around to this, so SHIELD is definitely in something of a class of its own.
Finally, we should also note that because Google has now connected its Android TV with the Google Play Store, the Android powered SHIELD will be bringing the largest ecosystem of media and other apps to the living rooms of Nvidia fans. This means easy access to YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Instand Video, Hulu, Vimeo, Ultraflix (with certain 4K TVs) and so on and so forth, with the selection growing constantly as Google Play, 4K media and SHIELD expand in scope.
Story by 4k.com