Android TV still has some growing up to do, but the SHIELD is by far the best piece of hardware to run Google's new living room software. This device was conspicuously absent from the Google Store, but that changes today in the US. It still costs the same $199 for 16GB and $299 for 500GB.
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Today a number of great games have all become available for NVIDIA SHIELD all around the same time. To make sure that you have something to play these titles on, we're giving away three bundles of hardware.
Remember Bomberman? You know, that cute little maze-based puzzle game that got infinitely more fun when you played it with friends? Right, well imagine a Bomberman game... set in a schlocky slasher movie. That's basically BRAWL, the latest console pilgrim to come exclusively to NVIDIA'S SHIELD Tablet and SHIELD Android TV. It's also notably the first Android game we've seen on the Play Store with an "Adults only" 18+ ESRB rating, though that might be a mistake - the game's trailer (which looks like it's taken from the PS4 version) brands it with the slightly less salacious M rating.
In BRAWL, you take control of one of eight characters that seem to have popped out of a Halloween party sponsored by Hot Topic.
NVIDIA's SHIELD Android TV box has only been available for a few weeks, and it's already getting its over-the-air update. This one improves a handful of the SHIELD's app functions and its accessories. Notably, software build 1.2 enables 4K output in Google's Photos & Videos app, provided of course that you have a 4K TV to view them on. According to the changelog it also improves streaming performance for both Netflix and Google Play Movies.
Even with a major infusion of horsepower with devices like the NVIDIA SHIELD and Razer Forge TV, the biggest thing holding back the Android TV platform is a scarcity of apps compared to more mature alternatives like Roku. It looks like Google is quickly trying to close the gap: in addition to the announcement of HBO Now (currently exclusive to Apple hardware) at Google I/O, a handful of high-profile and formerly unavailable apps are also making their way to Android TV in the near future.
NVIDIA's SHIELD announcement post makes explicit mention of HBO Go (which is essentially the same thing as HBO Now, but for more conventional cable subscribers), FX Now, Fox Now, Fox News, EPIX, WWE, UFC, Vimeo, Qello, Vudu, and Twitch.
Portal and Half-Life 2 were both launch titles for the SHIELD Portable, and to this day remain two of the best games you can play on Android. Recently, both apps got updated to support Android TV, which really only means one thing: they support the new SHIELD set-top box. That's good, because playing them on the TV is honestly one of the best ways to experience these classic FPS titles. Here's a look at the changelogs for each:
- Android TV support
- UI improvements
- Broader localizations
- Cloud saves, achievements
- SHIELD Android TV support
- UI improvements
- Broader localizations
While Portal got cloud saves and achievements via Google Games, it looks like HL2 may have not been so lucky.
So you've read our exhaustive review of the NVIDIA SHIELD and decided that it's the Android TV device for you. Whelp, it's available for purchase right now in the US, from both NVIDIA's own store and Amazon.com. The standard 16GB SHIELD is $199.99, but it looks like the SHIELD Pro ($299.99) with its 500GB internal hard drive won't be available until June. According to the NVIDIA Store it's coming on the 3rd, while Amazon says it won't be in stock till the 12th.
SHIELD comes with $30 of free Google Play Store credit and 90 days of Google Play Music All Access.
When you hear the name "NVIDIA," the first thing that comes to mind is most likely graphics cards, or at the very least the company's Tegra chips that have been powering Android devices for several years now. Either way, it's probably not "the company that makes the killer Android TV box that's hanging out in my living room."
But after today, it honestly might be.
We've spent the last week or so playing with both the base model SHIELD and storage-laden SHIELD Pro, which at this point are unquestionably the best Android TV boxes that money can buy.
As excited as many of us are for NVIDIA's upcoming Android TV-powered SHIELD set-top box, there has been a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the rather measly 16GB storage option. We all know that modern games - even ones designed for mobile platforms - can easily clock in at two or three gigs apiece, filling that 16GB drive with just a few titles. Sure, there is expandable storage, but it's just so convenient to have everything all in one place and not have to worry about SD cards, USB drives, and the like.