The NVIDIA Shield TV (starting at $229) is a full-featured streaming box that runs on the latest Android TV software. Many users and reviewers have classified it as the "King of Android TV". So I bought one a while back, but I didn't agree...until now.
The picture quality was atrocious. It was the wrong colourspace (REC 709 upscaled to BT2020 whether we want it or not) and the HDR switching flag being sent to the display was all over the place. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
Picture quality was not garbage-in-garbage-out. The forced conversion of colour space (it would convert it wrong too) with buggy HDR flag transmission was disconcerting. That's the reason I never wrote this review until today. But then I found out the Shield has a firmware update that fixes those problems. Now, the picture quality can be 1:1 to a decent HDD playback from the likes of Sony and LG standalone disc players, although it still doesn't touch the Panasonic UB820 or the now-discontinued Oppo 203 picture quality.
As an Android-based streaming box/media player with both Google Assistant and Chromecast functionality built right in, along with a host of other great features, the NVIDIA Shield TV offers the best internal specs and features of a streaming box and comes packaged with a (too) minimalistic Bluetooth remote that includes a built-in microphone for use with the Google Assistant. You can to plug in a keyboard and mouse or connect Bluetooth devices for gaming or for more basic yet scroll-intensive things like entering passwords and searching.
On the software side, the Shield TV has been updated to Android 8.1 and NVIDIA has done a good job of keeping this product line up to date over the past three years. You'll be able to access the best Android apps developed for the Android TV platform, which includes all the most popular services such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, and Tidal along with media streaming apps like Kodi and Plex for those who have their own media collections they want to enjoy. Everything is delivered in an easy-to-use user interface that will offer home screen recommendations based on the services and shows you watch.
The remote, however, is bad. Really bad. What happened to a logically laid out remote? There is minimalistic and there is this thing. You'll need to get used to it, which is a clear sign of an un-intuitive design. You give me a remote for any cable box, receiver, TV, Blu-ray player, and I can "get" it right away. Apple TV's remote is actually more minimalistic, but at least it's logical. The NVIDIA Shield remote is something else entirely.
Sub-par remote aside, today, about three years after its introduction, the Shield is finally the King of Android TV. In fact, this is the first time I'd ever recommend an Android TV unit to anybody. Plus it plays games really well, too.