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Nvidia Shield TV 2017 vs original Shield TV: Specs, what's new and all you need to know

The Nvidia Shield TV streamer has been updated for 2017 and we've been hands-on for this first look review. Here’s everything you need to know about the new Nvidia Shield TV 2017, including what specs and features have changed in comparison with the original Shield streaming box, plus the UK price and release date.

We still love the original Nvidia Shield TV, which is an ideal home streamer for games fans. Gamers can not only stream games from their personal rig to their TV, but can even play the latest titles via Nvidia’s servers using the GeForce Now service. That’s all on top of the usual streaming box features such as Netflix and YouTube, with full 4K support of course.

Nvidia has just updated the Shield TV for 2017, with a refreshed design, new features and overhauled controllers. However, some of the new features will be coming to the original Shield TV from 2015/2016 in the form of a system update.

In this Nvidia Shield TV 2017 vs original Shield TV comparison and hands-on review, we'll tell you everything you need to know about Nvidia's new streaming box, including full specs, what's changed and the UK release info.

Update: We've had some time to get to know the new Shield, so go check out our in-depth Nvidia Shield TV 2017 review for our full thoughts.

New Nvidia Shield TV 2017: Design and specs

First up, design. The Shield TV 2017 is a lot more compact than the original Shield TV, while retaining the same funky aesthetics. This new box is roughly half the size, and dare we say it looks rather cute in comparison to the bulky first model.

Despite that reduction in size, you still get an HDMI port (specifically HDMI 2.0b with HDCP 2.2 + HDR), Ethernet port and two USB 3.0 connections for adding storage and other peripherals. However, there’s no microSD port now.

Inside you get the same Tegra X1 processor as the original Shield TV, backed by 3GB of RAM. Nvidia chose not to upgrade this chipset as the Shield TV 2017 is still faster than any other streaming box right now, which is hard to argue with. In our hands-on session the new Shield TV performed beautifully, with nary a stutter as we zipped through menus, streamed 4K video and blasted through the latest games.

You have 16GB of built-in storage space for your apps and games, as before. However there’s also a Pro version of the new Shield TV which comes with 256GB of storage, for a bit of extra cash - with no increase in dimensions. Plus as mentioned before, this can be expanded simply by plugging in some USB storage.

The Shield TV 2017’s stand will still be an extra accessory, which will cost £20 when released in the UK.

Check out our full Nvidia Shield TV 2017 unboxing video below for a closer look at the new Shield TV and its specs.

New Nvidia Shield TV 2017: Media streaming

Nvidia is bigging up how the new Shield TV supports 4K HDR video streaming, but this feature was actually already brought to the original Shield TV by an over-the-air update. Nvidia is choosing to highlight this functionality now as the library of HDR content available to stream has grown, from the handful of episodes originally there.

And when it comes to media streaming, the Nvidia Shield TV 2017 can’t be beat. This box supports Dolby Atmos and the other major standards and codecs, so you get a really immersive experience - with the right home entertainment setup, of course.

Amazon Prime Instant Video support is also being added to the Shield TV at long last! Amazon shows and movies will stream in up to 4K resolution, where available. YouTube 360 support is also included, so you can watch 360-degree videos and use the Shield TV controller’s thumbstick to look around. It’s not as immersive as using a VR headset of course, but it’s a great way to enjoy VR videos with others, on a big screen.

Read next: Best 4K TV streamer, Shield TV vs Roku vs Fire TV

New Nvidia Shield TV 2017: Controller and remote

We’re big fans of the original Shield TV game controller, but this 2017 model improves on it in several ways. For a start it’s now 20 per cent smaller, making it even more comfortable to wield for extended periods. You get dual haptic feedback, plus those touch buttons have been replaced with physical buttons that are more responsive. You can now directly control your TV using the built-in IR blaster, while that plastic casing also holds a mic, headphone jack and volume controls.

In other Shield TV accessory news, the dinky remote control is now included in the box as well as the game controller. With the original Shield TV you had to splash out an extra $50 US for the remote. The new remote is slightly thicker than the first model, because the rechargeable batteries have been replaced with removable cells which should last a full year with regular use.

As an added bonus, the old controllers from the original Shield TV are still supported by the new box, so you don’t need to throw away those old accessories if you have the first Shield streamer.

And if you just want the new controllers, you can buy those separately from the new 2017 Shield TV. The new controllers cost £60 each by themselves.

New Nvidia Shield TV 2017: Google Assistant AI integration

Google Assistant has been integrated into the new Shield TV, so you can control the box using just your voice as well as the bundled controllers. Google Assistant is a smart AI which enjoys integration with the likes of Netflix, Google Photos and other major apps. Just say ‘Okay, Google’ and then issue any commands you like, be it playing your favourite movie or searching the web for info.

You can even interact with your other smart home appliances via your Shield TV, over your WiFi network. And if you have Bluetooth smart home appliances scattered around your living quarters, you can also control those by attaching a £20 dongle to your Shield box. That saves you splashing out a hundred quid on a smart home hub, which is nice.

The Shield TV 2017’s AI functionality is set to expand later in the year with the release of the Nvidia Spot. The Spot is basically like Amazon’s Echo Dot, for spreading voice control to other parts of your home. You plug it into any mains socket in your house and the powerful built-in mic can pick up your voice commands from anywhere in the room, to control your smart home gadgets.

The Spot will cost $49.99 US (around £40) and be released later this year.

New Nvidia Shield TV 2017: Gaming

The Nvidia Shield TV 2017 can once again play exclusive Android titles, as well as streaming games from your home PC or from Nvidia’s uber-powered servers via the GeForce Now service. However there are several changes coming up, which will also be available to original Shield TV owners via an update in January 2017.

Got a powerful gaming rig in your house, but no sexy 4K HDR monitor? No worries. Nvidia’s GameStream feature now supports 4K HDR streaming to your TV, so you don’t need to invest in a pricey monitor as well as a top-end telly. Just buy an HDR TV and then stream your PC games straight to that, for some serious eye candy.

All of your games stuff is now integrated into a single apps, called Nvidia Games. This is less confusing than the original Shield TV setup. The My Library section gives you access to everything you own across all of the platforms and when you play a game, be it an Android title or via GeForce Now or GameStream, a shortcut will appear on the home screen.

Nvidia is also updating its GeForce Now servers to Pascal architecture, giving four times the performance of the existing remote servers. That means you can enjoy better graphics in the latest titles, if your broadband can cope.

Ubisoft games will also be supported by GeForce Now, so if you own a game on UPlay, you can stream it to your Shield TV.

To repeat ourselves, all of these updates will be available to existing Shield TV owners on January 16. The likes of the Nvidia Games app will appear in the form of an over-the-air update, soon.

Read next: Best games for Nvidia Shield TV

New Nvidia Shield TV 2017: Apps and OS

The new Shield TV comes with Android 7.0 Nougat pre-installed, although once again this will be brought to the original Shield TV as an update. The latest version of Android allows for picture in picture, so for instance you can mess around in apps while watching a movie. You can also quickly and easily skip between different apps that you have open, to save time.

Android TV now has over 1000 apps available to download, with more being added all the time.

New Nvidia Shield TV 2017: Comparison with original Shield TV

In this video we show the new Shield TV 2017 alongside the original Shield TV, so you can see exactly what's changed.

New Nvidia Shield TV 2017: UK price and release date

The Nvidia Shield TV 2017 costs £189 in the UK, and you can pre-order the device today. The UK release date is January 16, so stay tuned for our full Nvidia Shield TV 2017 review on Monday.

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