Nvidia Shield STB Coming In May

Nvidia announced the Shield STB at the recent Gamers Development Conference (GDC, as discussed by Jon Peddie in his Display Daily from March 9th, 2015. On April 9th, I had a chance to see the unit at Pepcom’s Digital Experience in New York and talk to Jordan Dodge, Nvidia’s PR Manager for the product.

While Peddie focused on the Shield as a gaming device, understandably since it was introduced at a gaming conference, Nvidia describes it as a ‘Living-Room Entertainment Device’.

Nvidia Shield with its optional remote control (left) and its included game controller

In addition to gaming, the Shield is designed for streaming content. It has AVC (H.264) and HEVC (H.265) capability along with other video codecs. At Pepcom, it was connected via HDMI to a 50” Vizio 4k set (Model P502ui-B1), which Dodge said it had just bought at Best Buy for $699. The company was running 4k 60P content from the Shield to the TV over a single HDMI cable. As you can imagine, the content was gorgeous. In particular, there were no motion artifacts visible, thanks to the 60P content. I went to a movie just last week shown in 24P on a 4k Sony digital cinema projector and the motion artifacts were positively painful and significantly distracted from the story. I wonder when Hollywood is going to catch up with the reality that 4k does you no good at a low frame rate? Certainly Nvidia, Vizio and other TV manufacturers seem to understand.

Jon Peddie’s Display Daily gave the technical specifications for the Shield, so I don’t need to repeat them here. The unit shown at Pepcom, according to Dodge, was not a standard consumer unit with its 16G of memory. It was a unit for game developers and included an internal 500G hard drive that will not be in the consumer unit. At least it won’t be in the one to be available in mid-May for $199. I can’t imagine that future versions won’t have additional storage. According to Peddie, however, streaming content over Wi-Fi from a server in Seattle didn’t cause any noticeable glitches so perhaps internal mass storage isn’t necessary. Content can be streamed from your home server or over the Internet.

When used as a gaming device, Dodge said the Android-based Shield will be able to run specially developed Shield games. At the launch in May, Nvidia expects 50+ games to be available, some custom for the Shield and some ported from other platforms. The Shield will also run some but not all generic Android games. In particular, since the Shield has no touch screen support since it is intended to be coupled to a TV, it will not run any Android app that requires a touch screen interface. So, no Angry Birds or Candy Crush, in case you were hoping to play them at 4k/60P on a 50” screen. But you can play them on the Nvidia Shield Tablet with its 8”, 1920 x 1200 screen, of course. – Matthew Brennesholtz

Analyst Comment

For $898 you can get a Vizio 4k TV and a 4k Nvidia Shield and stream 4k60 content. If CE manufacturers were expecting 4k to provide premium products at premium prices and premium profit margins, they need to think again. (MB)