Tired of the ongoing CES 2017 onslaught of Amazon Alexa-powered Echo smart speaker and home automation hub copycats? While NVIDIA does include access to Amazon Video streaming services in its next-gen set-top box’s bag of tricks, alongside native Netflix, Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube and VUDU content, the $200 and up new Shield TV actually throws its weight behind Google Assistant rather than Alexa.
We did not see that coming, although it’s still going to take Google a few extra months to optimize the currently Pixel and Home-only Assistant experience for your living room big screen. Once that happens, the “ultimate” refreshed NVIDIA Shield TV streaming machine promises to “transform home entertainment” by closely following your voice instead of relying on just an obsolete remote.
But your traditional remote and “redesigned” game controller will nonetheless be included even in the “entry-level” $200 package, with 16GB internal storage upgraded to 500 gigs for an additional 50 bucks on the Pro version.
Both models are slated for commercial launches across North America and “select” European regions later this month, while an AI mic accessory dubbed NVIDIA Spot is priced at $50 for a vague “later this year” rollout. That’s basically an Echo Dot working solely in partnership with the NVIDIA Shield TV, as it listens for your every move around the house, also courtesy of Google Assistant technology.
In terms of cold hard specs, the “world’s most advanced streamer” stands out with 4K HDR support, 3GB RAM, a Tegra X1 processor incorporating a 256-core GPU that purportedly offers “3x the performance of any other streamer on the market”, as well as Android TV-based 7.0 Nougat software, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0b, two USB 3.0 ports, and Dolby Atmos audio. Big on gaming, the media player/microconsole adds titles like Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate to its already rich catalog.