NVIDIA’s Shield beefed up: HDR gaming, 4K apps and Android N updates all coming to the set-top box

by on May 20, 2016

Stephan Jukic – May 20, 2016

As 4K technology becomes mainstream and far more affordable than it’s ever been, high dynamic range, or HDR, is the next big development on the display and content markets for 4K TVs, PC monitors and gaming platforms as well, as new updates to the NVIDIA Shield 4K Gaming/content platform show.

Unlike 8-bit, limited brightness SDR content and display, HDR relies on a far larger 10-bit color range (over one billion colors vs. the 16.8 million of 8-bit) and also a much wider range of dynamic range due to considerably higher peak brightness capacity in both content and HDR display technologies. The overall result is a level of visual quality that’s simply stunning and has to be seen with the naked eye to be appreciated.

This is why there’s plenty of motive for an HDR update in the already excellent NVIDIA Shield 4K Android TV (soon to be Android N) gaming and content platform.


With HDR 4K TV sales estimated to hit the millions in 2016 and only grow almost exponentially from there and content sources to increasingly include HDR encoding in their entertainment offerings for the sake of display in these new high dynamic range 4K televisions, NVIDIA definitely feels the pressure for HDR support. Thus, the Shield will soon be offering support for HDR content from sources like Netflix and other updates for the expanded dynamic range are also in the pipeline.

The Pascal graphics card architecture used in new NVIDIA GPUs like the GTX 1080 is already prepared with HDR support and the Shield itself is going to soon have HDR Gamestream capabilities in a soon-to-arrive software update. With these new tech developments in the powerful but compact gaming and content streaming platform, Shield owners with an HDR 4K TV, one of NVIDIA’s GTX 1080 GPUs and the Shield itself will soon be able to finally also see what gaming content looks like in high dynamic range. 4K HDR movie and TV content is already widely available to anyone with one of the numerous excellent 4K HDR TVs of 2015 or 2016 but games have so far had a much smaller incursion into the territory of high dynamic range.

Aside from HDR updates, the NVIDIA Shield will also be updated with a whole host of new apps which include a 4K @ 60fps update for viewing ultra HD content from YouTube, VUDU and other sources. Additionally, app updates for Spotify, ABC News, Comedy Central and others like WatchESPN are also on the way.


The VUDU content app updates to the Shield’s Android TV smart platform are particularly notable in that they now allow this application to offer streaming of 4K UHD movies. And because VUDU is promising to support Dolby Atmos surround audio, the inclusion of Dolby Atmos in the Shield’s audio support means superior sound quality for owners with the right audio hardware in their TVs or speakers.

In summary, now that the Shield will offer these new 4K content options through the upcoming updates, users of the set-top platform will be able to view content from more than six different providers through the Shield: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, VUDU, Plex, UltraFlix and Curiosity Stream, with the Netflix offerings also including HDR 4K entertainment options.

On top of these core content and display rendering updates, Android N, the next generation replacement to Android TV is also coming to the Shield in the coming months. This upgrade to Android N means other new features like in-app DVT functionality, live TV content recording and picture-in-picture support.

In basic terms, the Shield is going to be a better, more powerful machine that offers some superb new dimensions to console and PC gaming.

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  • Bryan
    May 21, 2016 at 8:13 am

    So, Netflix HDR compatibility… does that mean Dolby Vision? If so, does that mean Vudu HDR compatibility as well?


    • Stephen
      May 21, 2016 at 10:00 am

      Hello Bryan, Netflix offers HDR compatibility in both Dolby Vision and HDR10 from what I recall. But yes, I believe we mention VUDU in the article and if it’s included, the Dolby HDR should come as part of the package, assuming your TV is also compatible with Dolby HDR (Vizio, LG for now)


      • Bryan
        May 21, 2016 at 10:10 am

        Thanks for the reply. I have a Vizio P-65 and although I have no issues casting Netflix and Vudu with Dolby Vision from my phone or the Vizio tablet, I much prefer a set-top-box solution. I currently have a Roku4 that lacks DV and HDR10 compatibility, so I am considering switching to the Shield if it can support both HDR10 and DV.


      • mhdaniels31
        May 27, 2016 at 1:04 pm

        no dolby HDR(dolby vision) is only available if a hardware chip has been manufactured in and if that was the case there would have been some kind of documentation of such due to the lisencing rights nvidia would of had to pay dolby if there is any hdr support for netflix it will be the open source HDR-10 version unless they do a new hardware release which would mean it would be a whole new nvidia shield entirely


  • Eddie
    June 2, 2016 at 7:47 am

    What I’m not getting is how this is going to do HDR with no HDMI 2.0a. Going by your previous review of the Nvidia Shield, it was said that HDR could not be supported because it does not have 2.0a.


    • Stephen
      June 2, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      Hello Eddie, the Nvidia Shield will be getting a firmware update which can indeed change the HDMI 2.0 in the device to HDMI 2.0a. Samsung and Sony have already done this with a number of their 2015 4K TVs, as long as the HDMI in the device already had the right hardware for the firmware-based 2.0 support, which presumably the Shiled does have. That said, initially, the Shield will only support Dolby Vision HDR for Netflix specifically and this doesn’t require HDMI 2.0a anyhow.


      • Joe
        June 11, 2016 at 9:41 pm

        Ive been trying to find an answer to dolby vision on the shield specifically. What i have found in general is dolby vision doesnt need hdmi 2.0a but it does require dolby hardware in the device, its not possible wwitg a firmware update so the shield will only be avle to use hdr10.


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