The Nvidia Shield TV’s gaming functions are best seen as extras
As a dedicated gaming system, the Nvidia Shield TV is unlike the Xbox One and PS4. It’s slow and can’t run many new versions.
The Shield is more than just a smaller, cheaper game system. PC players may broadcast games to their living room. GeForce Now lets the Shield stream high-quality games without a console. The Shield boasts a large collection of downloaded games, including recent indies and console oldies.
None of these services is good enough on its own but paired with the Shield’s media streaming capabilities, they might provide a tempting console alternative. Let’s examine Nvidia Shield TV’s gaming capabilities.
Shield TV combines Android gaming, cloud streaming, and PC-to-console streaming.
Shield TV supports GameStream, which allows you to stream games from a GeForce-powered PC via Wi-Fi or ethernet. This enables you to play PC games on TV without buying an additional computer.
Although GameStream only supports a subset of PC games (they’ll display in Shield’s GameStream menu and on the home screen once played), there’s no limit to what you may run. Steam Big Picture on Shield provides you access to your full Steam catalog, and GeForce Experience, Nvidia’s PC companion program, lets you create launch shortcuts for any other game.
GameStream streams UltraHD. If you have a 4K or 4K HDR television, a compatible graphics card (GeForce GTX 10-series for HDR, many more for 4K), and good network conditions, you may receive a better image than on your 1080p desktop display.
The shield can broadcast Steam’s Big Picture mode
GameStream won’t replace PC play. GameStream is adequate on Nvidia’s Shield Portable and first-generation Shield TV, although it introduces a small fraction of a second of input latency, even under ideal network circumstances. Even an ethernet connection on both ends doesn’t totally remove latency with mouse-and-keyboard interaction or shooters that demand precise precision. Stuttering occurs if your Shield doesn’t have good Wi-Fi coverage, thus a location that works for streaming video may not be for GameStream.
PC-to-TV game streaming isn’t limited to Shield. You can also utilize Steam in-home streaming with a $50 Steam Link or a cheap PC with Nvidia or AMD graphics cards. Microsoft may integrate PC-to-Xbox streaming in Windows 10 some time.
The shield is an all-in-one solution for gaming and streaming media, and unlike Steam Link, it incorporates a wireless game controller. You can bundle a Steam Link, Steam Controller, and Roku or Fire TV for around the same price.
The Shield transmits games from Nvidia’s distant servers for those without a gaming PC. You may buy current games a la carte or subscribe for $8 each month to obtain back-catalog titles.
Since GeForce Now launched in October 2015, Nvidia has made progress. The portfolio keeps growing, the platform now enables multiplayer, and server-side CPUs can provide 1080p, 60fps gaming. In the future months, select Uplay purchases will sync to GeForce Now, and vice versa. (It’s unclear if this crossover compatibility will apply to Steam-to-Uplay games.)
GeForce Now costs $8 per month for a Netflix-style bundle of streaming games.
Potential GeForce Now users are few. GeForce Now is decent, but not as good as a local play, and distant servers have more connectivity troubles. Activision, Electronic Arts, and Bethesda aren’t on the platform.
GeForce Now is segregated from other devices and platforms. The future PC and Mac edition of GeForce Now is a different entity, and while GeForce Now purchases contain Steam or GOG download keys, save progress does not move between platforms.
If you’re serious about gaming, you’re better off with a PC or console than GeForce Now.
The Nvidia Shield TV’s assortment of downloadable games is its strongest point. The Shield lacks the power of a game console, yet it’s great for independent games.
The Shield has the best-downloaded game collection.
Nvidia has gone beyond free-to-play mobile ports, unlike Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. The Witness, Titan Souls, Hotline Miami, GoNNER, Olli Olli, Mercenary Kings, Octodad, Not a Hero, and Super Meat Boy aren’t mindless time-wasters. Many of these games are only accessible on expensive PCs and consoles.
The Shield isn’t entirely mainstream. Borderlands 2, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Portal, Half-Life 2, and Resident Evil 5 can run on it. There aren’t many of these games, and their graphic quality doesn’t match their console equivalents. If you want to play last-gen games, get an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
Resident Evil 5 vs. Shield (right). Shadows near the posts have disappeared.
All of these games are available on Google Play, where you can also discover casual games. Shield’s finest games only work on Shield devices (and in some cases, only on Shield TV).
These gaming capabilities don’t justify buying the Shield over a dedicated console. As a media player, Shield’s gaming features make sense.
Shield boasts more streaming video apps than any other console. Power users may operate a Plex server, install an over-the-air DVR, or build a Kodi media center. (Kodi plugins’ ethical murkiness pairs well with Shield’s ability to run old console emulators.) The shield will gain SmartThings and Google Assistant in the coming months.
The Nvidia Shield TV’s mix of gaming and streaming functions is appealing. If you like a couple of these characteristics, this console may be for you.