It has been called the “Ferrari of Android TV devices” and with very good reason, this sleek device packs a serious punch. It is commonly considered to be the best Android TV device on the market, and it’s definitely the most high end. It is manufactured by NVIDIA, a highly reputable global leader in graphics hardware. They are also a sponsor of the official XBMC Foundation which is nice to know, and ensures that the device’s firmware is designed with Kodi performance in mind.
I ordered the base model, along with their television style remote control addition, directly from NVIDIA’s web site. Since it’s technically considered a gaming console, it only comes with a gaming controller, however most people will probably opt to order their remote control accessory to get a more television-centric experience. It arrived fairly quickly a few days later.
The device comes packaged in a nice, quality box, the kind of packaging that you’d be attracted to if you saw it on a store’s shelf. It comes with a gaming controller, a MicroUSB charger cable for the gaming controller, and an HDMI cable. The extra remote control came in its own separate packaging. The NVIDIA SHIELD TV device itself was fairly heavier than was expected, but that really makes no difference, you can tell it was manufactured with the highest degree of quality in mind.
Once it was plugged into the television, everything was pretty much automated. It should be noted that a Google Account is required, but that only takes a second to create if you don’t already have one. It would probably be a good idea to disable location services when prompted during the initial setup, there’s no good reason a gaming console should need to know your exact location at all times. As soon as the initial setup was completed, the very nicely designed Leanback Launcher’s sleek Android TV homescreen appeared. It prompted me to begin an automatic OTA update, then rebooted, then prompted me with another update, all completed successfully.
Now that you’re ready, you’ll have to launch the Google Play store, within which you’ll find Kodi as the top free app, pretty cool if you ask me. It only took a few seconds to download and install Kodi, at which point it launched for the first time. You can always tell how fast a device really is based on how fast Kodi launches for the first time, it was almost instantaneous. I went ahead and configured it with our Indigo tool’s Config Wizard function and then rebooted the device to prepare for first use.
Right away you can tell that everything is quicker on this device, menus load quicker, scrapers run quicker, everything is faster. Several 1080P movies and a few television episodes later, it’s clear that the picture quality is superb, and the same goes for the sound quality. There were no issues with any of the most popular add-ons or sources tested, everything worked even better than expected. At the end of the day, there are two words to describe this device: blazing fast.
Nothing is perfect, some small issues were encountered. You can toggle the context menu from the gaming controller, however the television-style remote control doesn’t have a button for it. This might not be a problem for long, as I believe that the new version of Kodi will have long press support, meaning you’ll be able to toggle the context menu by holding the select button for a few seconds. Aside from that, if you’re a Harmony remote user, you might be a bit disappointed, but according to the manufacturer the issue will be fixed sometime in the near future.
Last but not least, one of the features that I really loved was the ability to plug headphones into the bottom of either the gaming controller or remote controller, so that you can bypass your regular sound output and listen through your headphones instead. As soon as you plug in your headphones, it will mute your normal audio output, and allow you to control the headphone volume directly from the device’s controller.
It’s a bit more expensive than what you might be used to, but well worth the price. Anyone who uses Kodi regularly should see the value in owning the best possible device. If you’re looking to purchase one, check out Amazon or the NVIDIA web site for direct sales or to find a retail location near you.