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Android TV

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NVIDIA SHIELD (2017) review: Still the king for a reason

NVIDIA's SHIELD Android TV console has been, since its launch in 2015, the only Android TV you really should be paying attention to. For 2017, it has received a very light hardware refresh. Even with the changes overall being minor, it is still the only Android TV device you should be paying attention to.

Now, many of the changes in the 2017 version of SHIELD came to the existing SHIELD console today via the 5.0 upgrade, including Android 7.0. The old model, too, will get Google Assistant, SmartThings support, and Amazon Instant Video. And this brings me to the second major point of our review: If you already have a SHIELD, there's no reason to replace it with this refreshed version.

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Weekend poll: What smart TV system do you use?

The war for your television's operating system (or, the operating system / platform you use to display content on it) is heating up. CES saw a refresh of the loved SHIELD Android TV console, and a new such box from Dish. We also saw Alexa on TVs, as well as continued attempts by the likes of Samsung and LG to push their own smart TV solutions.

So, I wanted to get a snapshot of what kind of smart TV system you're using here at the beginning of 2017. I'm allowing multiple answers on this poll, because I think people definitely may use a variety of platforms depending on both the TV and the content they're consuming, as not all platforms offer all services or features.

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Google Assistant coming to Android TV, more actions in development

Until now, Google Assistant has been limited to the Google Home and the Pixel phones (unless you edited your phone's build.prop file). Assistant is slowly making its way to more devices, starting with Android TV. "In the coming months," it will become available on all Android TV devices in the US running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or higher (sorry, ADT-1 owners).

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[Update: Android TV] This game is toast: I am Bread, from the makers of Surgeon Simulator, butters its way onto the Play Store

No matter how you slice and dice it, bread is awesome. And being bread, that's probably the dream, nay, the Holy Grain. Well, at least if you loaf bread as much as I do. See, I never knew I kneaded a game like this, but now that I know it exists, I can't wait to play it.

In "I am Bread," you control a slice of bread that's just doughing its best to survive the unsavory obstacles in its way.

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Google makes 4K video official in Google Play, but only for the US and Canada right now

We started getting reports of 4K videos rolling out in Google Play several weeks ago, but not everyone could see the 4K option and Google didn't list a separate price for it. Google has now made it official—4K video is available for rental or purchase in the Play Store. However, there isn't very much of it right now, and you can't even get 4K everywhere.

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Twitter gets a dedicated Android TV app for streaming football (and maybe some other videos too)

As nice as it is to get a new Android TV app from a large web property (and also rare, natch), one might reasonably wonder what Twitter is doing on a platform almost exclusively dedicated to streaming video. The answer is, of course, streaming video: Twitter has a lucrative deal with the NFL to stream some but not all of this season's Thursday Night Football games for free on the service. This app would have been a lot more useful before we got 10 weeks into a 17-week season, but hey, gift horses and whatnot.

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InBrief
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NVIDIA rolling out Shield Android TV upgrade 3.3 with improved audio, updated Vulkan API, and more

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PlayStation Vue expands to Android TV today, PC and Mac web support coming soon

Sony just announced today that its PlayStation Vue streaming service is coming to Android TV. If you do not know what Vue is, it might just seem like another streaming option. It is actually more akin to Dish's Sling TV with live TV channels, sports networks, and HBO and Showtime across a variety of price tiers. Additionally, the "PlayStation" moniker might give the impression of requiring Sony's PlayStation 4 game console — it actually doesn't. For all of the cord cutters out there, this is just another good option in a growing market.

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Xiaomi Mi Box Review: the best deal around for Android TV... for what it's worth

There's a race to the bottom in the home entertainment world, created by the lower pricing for set-top boxes, the near ubiquity of built-in "smart" features for new televisions, and not least, Google's own low-priced efforts with the Chromecast. Compared to the rock-bottom pricing of gadgets like the Chromecast, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and the market-dominating Roku boxes, Android TV is in a pickle. Stand-alone ATV units start at around $100, which is more expensive than the Roku you might buy (or the apps that come free with your TV), and less expensive than the home game console you might already have.

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LeOops: LeEco accidentally reveals its big US launch lineup - two phones and four Android TVs

Well, LeEco's big October 19th US launch event seems to have been spoiled: what looks like the vast majority of its launch lineup just showed up on LeEco's website. The company appears to be prepping the storefront for the launch, but in the process revealed basically everything, including some prices, that it intends to announce on the 19th. Here's a list of those products.

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