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Nvidia Forgot to Enable VP9 for 4K Content From Google Play in the Shield Console

by on December 13, 2016

Stephan Jukic – December 13, 2016

Now that Google has announced the availability of 4K video content and movies through its Ply Movies & TV service, some UHD display owners may have been disappointed by the fact that only a small group of devices are immediately compatible with this decent new selection of ultra HD content. Google itself cited only their own Chromecast Ultra, Sony’s Bravia 4K TVs and the Xiaomi Mi Box 3 as compatible toys for direct access to Google Play 4K entertainment.


Well, owners of one more device can soon also enjoy the same direct access to Google Play 4K. This is of course the Nvidia Shield and as you may have noticed, what it has in common with these other devices is the presence of the Google Android TV smart platform.

Nvidia is moving quickly to make sure that the Shield gaming/streaming console with 4K support soon gets a firmware update which will include the device in Google’s list of compatible devices for Play Movies & TV playback in 4K. The Shield was originally supposed to be included by Google as one of the devices immediately capable of playing back Ultra HD entertainment from the Play service but it turned out that Nvidia had never given the Shield a crucial codec for support of Google’s VP9 4K video compression codec in which all Google YouTube and Play content is compressed.


Now, the Shield does already come with VP9 support as part of its listed specs for playback of ultra HD video at 60 frames per second, along with support for 4K in the H.265 rival codec and support for Full HD video in H.264. However, it seems that in actual practice, Nvidia simply included VP9 support in its specs but failed to actually enable the codec in the actual Shield units it has sold to consumers so far. Instead, only H.264 and H.265 for 4K video are functional. Only now with the unveiling of Google Play streaming of feature films in 4K has this little oversight been brought to the attention of both Google and consumers.

This is what prompted Google to not include the Shield in its list of approve devices despite the fact that the console is one of the primary 4K-supporting Android TV powered streaming devices on sale today and Nvidia is now scrambling to fix their mistake. Nvidia has not yet given a firm date for the release of their VP9 enabling patch.

Google is for its part landing a strong blow against the HEVC H.265 codec in the rivalry between 4K video compression technologies. The company’s VP9 codec is the chief rival to HEVC but does not yet enjoy the same broad use by other players in the 4K video technology market as H.265. With the release of a large and soon to grow selection of streamed premium 4K entertainment via Google Play, Google’s codec will likely carry more weight among hardware manufacturers.


Currently, most 4K TVs from the major brands do offer VP9 support but creators of 4K video and makers of set-top boxes don’t use the codec as much.

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  • Jordon Currey
    December 20, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    This does not make a lot of sense, the NVidia Shield clearly displays that it is using vp9 whenever you watch any 4k video on Utube. This doesn’t seem to add up.
    There must be more to the story , as to why it does not work with 4k Google Play Movies.


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