If you own the original NVIDIA Shield and were wondering when you were going to be able to download the new NVIDIA Shield Experience that they showed off at CES 2017, then start getting excited.
Your update is here!
NVIDIA Shield Experience 5.0.2 has started to roll out to existing Shield owners as a staged download over the next few weeks. Thankfully, I didn’t have too long to wait, so I can offer you a little taste of what’s new in this update.
Cleaner look and feel
The first you’ll notice with the new NVIDIA Shield Experience is that the interface is trimmed down a bit.
In the old version, Netflix and the NVIDIA apps like the Shield Hub had their own section, which wasn’t very intuitive to me. It was almost like saying if you want to open an app, go down to the apps section at the bottom…unless you want Netflix and then it’s up near the top. I’m OK with highlighting certain apps, but users shouldn’t have to go two different places to find the same type of program.
Overall, the new look is much cleaner and more streamlined. You might not think that trimming out one section on the home page would make much of a difference, but it lets you get more of what you’re looking for on the screen at one time.
The Settings section has also received a facelift, but this one I’m not as sold on. Gone are the large icons and horizontal layout of the previous version. In its place is a side pullout with all of the settings aligned vertically.
Unfortunately, that makes it a bit more difficult to find what you’re looking for if you’re on the couch across the room.
Amazon Prime Video
The ongoing battle between Amazon and Google was big news last year, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see Amazon Prime Video (finally) make its way on to the NVIDIA Shield.
NVIDIA landing the number two streaming service in the United States is a big deal. Make no mistake.
In one move, the Shield TV became the highest performance Amazon Prime device on the market. Its double the price of the Fire TV, but it’s a much better player overall.
This has nothing to do with streaming, but smart homes and home automation is a BIG push at Google and NVIDIA in 2017.
To help with that, Android TV now offers the same Google Assistant that we’ve come to know and love on our smartphones.
The voice search on the old NVIDIA Shield Experience was one of the system’s high points, but it was limited to searching for what video you wanted to watch.
Now you can search for sports scores, the weather, or anything else that you normally search for. The Shield’s Google Assistant has got you covered.
One of the other neat features added this year is a better integration with Google Home, the smart home automation system similar to the Amazon Alexa.
If you’ve got Nest video surveillance cameras in your home, now you can access their live feed through the Nest Android TV app.
Android 7.0 update
I love getting new OS updates early. It’s why I use a Google Nexus smartphone. Side note: No, I haven’t upgraded to a Pixel yet. I’m just not sure if the phone is worth the extra cost.
Getting back to the new NVIDIA Shield Experience, the Shield TV is the first streaming device to run the new Android 7.0 Nougat OS.
One big benefit in Android 7 is the ability to record and playback content from Android TV input services via a new recording API. I haven’t gotten the chance to play with that feature yet, but any help that cord-cutters can get to record live TV will be a welcome addition.
Android 7 also boasts performance increases to system RAM via background optimizations so your apps will use less memory. The Shield is the most powerful streaming device available, but many of the streaming apps we use can become bloated system hogs. This will help tame that beast.
More apps to love
NVIDIA revamped the Shield Hub app to put all of the Shield-exclusive games in one place. For you PC gamers, don’t worry, you also get a GeForce NOW Performance Upgrade which lets you stream games on-demand from the cloud in full HD to your Shield TV. If you’re a fan of NVIDIA GameStream, you can now stream your games in 4K HDR!
For many casual gamers like me, this is really cool because we can still get access to the latest games without having to keep buying expensive upgrades for our PC’s.
On the streaming front, the Shield TV also gets some new toys. The NFL app, the new Twitter for TV app, Comedy Central, Vimeo and Viki are now available.
Normally I skip over sections like this because there’s usually nothing to get excited about.
But don’t do that this time. Believe it or not, the feature I was looking forward to most besides Amazon Prime Video was slid in under the radar.
You can now write to your attached USB or SD card storage!
If you haven’t tried before, this feature was locked down in the Shield, and other Android TV devices as part of the operating system itself. It made it incredibly difficult to (for example) save a screenshot and export that screenshot anywhere.
This new feature may be minor in NVIDIA’s eyes, but it makes the Shield TV a much better all-around player in my opinion.
Other new features include:
- Added Pause/Play button functionality on the SHIELD remote by double-tapping on the volume slider.
- Added 4.1, 6.1, and 8.1 speaker configurations for Plex.
- Enabled cast for HBO GO.
How to get the NVIDIA Shield Experience 5.0.2
Unfortunately, this update will only be release to existing Shield owners on a schedule. The update file is right around 1 GB, which would take up A LOT of bandwidth for NVIDIA’s servers if everyone tried to download it at the same time.
If you haven’t received the upgrade notification yet, keep a lookout or manually check for updates in your Settings screen.
The new NVIDIA Shield Experience is worth waiting for.