Nvidia officially launched Monday a pair of next-generation Shield TV streaming media adapters that provide more power to keep the focus on online video gaming as well as movie and TV program streaming.

Available now with prices starting at $149 for a standard version and $199 for the “Pro” model, both Shield TV players include a new Tegra X1+ procesor, that will help the devices run up to 25% faster than the previous version. The devices also now add support for the Dolby Vision high dyanmic range (HDR) in addition to baseline HDR10, and Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D surround sound.

For game play convenience the new adapters will now support controllers for both PlayStation and Xbox. Both Shield TV units come bundled with a new remote control, powered by two AAA batteries, that features motion-activated backlit buttons, a built-in lost remote locator and a mic for voice search, but no longer include a bundled game controller.

The 2019 Nvidia Shield TV versions will continue to work with Nvidia’s own game controller and other Bluetooth controllers, but those will be sold as after-purchase options. The platform also continues to support “Geforce Now beta” game streaming.

Nvidia said the new media players will deliver “unmatched levels of home entertainment, gaming and AI capabilities.” The company said the additional computational power “dramatically improves picture quality by using AI to upscale HD video streams into 4K resolution.”

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“These new models provide a big step up for Shield, which has consistently delivered groundbreaking innovations in the living room since its introduction five years ago,” stated Jeff Fisher, Nvidia consumer business senior VP. “They deliver unquestionably best-in-class entertainment, supported by Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision and our breakthroughs in using AI to improve video streaming playback.”

The 2019 versions of Nvidia Shield TV adapters have a slim, stealthy design that the company said was “meant to disappear by blending in with, or behind, entertainment centers.”

The standard version of the 2019 Shield TV offers a new cylindrical design while the step-up “Pro” version retains the basic look of the previous design. The Pro version also includes 16GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM, while the standard version has 8GB of storage and 3GB RAM. The Shield TV Pro also features two USB ports for running a Plex Media Server and connecting high-capacity hard drives and other USB storage devices, the company said.

Both units include Gigabit Ethernet and dual-band Wi-Fi for fast connectivity and game play. They also feature an HDMI 2.0b port with HDCP 2.2 and CEC support, as well as a MicroSD card slot.

The Shield TV media adapters are based on the Android TV (9.0 “Pie”) platform that provides an extensive selection of streaming entertainment apps, providing access to more than 500,000 movies and TV shows, more than 5,000 apps and games through the Google Play store. It also builds in support for Chromecast 4K video streaming.

For operational convenience, the system builds in support for Google Assistant voice control that will help users easily find and access favorite programs, as well as control other compatible smart devices and get answers to questions via the internet.

Shield TV now supports “routines” — with one command, and Google Assistant will complete multiple tasks.

The devices are also compatible with Works with Alexa voice control using Amazon Echo speakers.

Unlike rival Roku adapters and TVs, and like the Apple TV 4K streamer, the 2019 Shield TV models now support the Dolby Vision HDR profile that leverages dynamic metadata to present supporting 4K streaming videos with scene-by-scene color and contrast grading for greater realism and both brighter peak luminance highlights and dark shadow detail.

Dolby Vision HDR is now supported on a wide range of 4K UHD movies and TV programs available through Netflix, Vudu, iTunes and other streaming services.

The newly added Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound formats offer object-based 3D audio experiences from supporting content streamed through the players. Roku and Apple TV 4K devices have offered Dolby Atmos support for some time.

Nvidia said it has incorporated its expertise in AI trained on a deep neural network to provide 4K upscaling of lower-resolution content as well as “features lacking in competing devices. In addition to built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Echo connectivity, the new streamers use an AI upscaler that will present lower-resolution Full HD and HD content at up to 4K/30 fps.

For gamers, Nvidia further explained that Shield provides “the widest range of gaming content on a streaming media device with support for cloud gaming, local streaming and advanced native games. Gamers can enjoy hundreds of supported games in the GeForce Now beta, including many recent releases and top free-to-play games like Fortnite, the company said.

By Greg Tarr

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