Mini review: Nvidia Shield

So Black Friday came around and I made an impulse buy. For £150 odd you could get a Nvidia Shield with remote and games controller + £10 Steam credit in the UK. Not a bad deal as I was in the market for a streaming device that could do both Amazon Prime and Netflix (as well as more). Something my NowTV box was unwilling to currently do as although they recently added Netflix, there is no Amazon App. For that i’d need a Roku stick which is what the NowTV hardware is based and subsidised off.

Why you no USB-C?

Now I know there are streaming devices that can do these apps for cheaper (or just use a laptop) but I was also curious by Nvidia’s games streaming service (akin to the ill-fated OnLive service) so caved in and grabbed one of these!

 Design: So the controller felt a little cheap to me at first but it has one main saving grace. It has a headphone jack! Might sound dumb but I really like this. Short story, I and my partner have a baby, we use a Bluetooth device that plugs in via 3.5mm or Optical out to use multiple headphones for the same source. The shield doesn’t have either output on the main unit. So the controller redeems the device here and allows us to both use paired Bluetooth headphones (with ease as there might be a way to pair both headphones to the unit but I bet its as painful as a Mac is). 

Dust magnets

Other comments about the controller, the joysticks seem to have a fair amount of give before you feel the resistance so I do think there is much initial accuracy. There could be a more uniform resistance to them. Also they seem expensive to buy more / replace!

The main unit itself is fairly discrete and you can turn the green LED down / off. One this I don’t like is the customer power connector. USB-C would have been fine here like with the Nintendo Switch. Same goes for charging the controller. USB-C, please. I’ve not heard the main unit yet so maybe I’ve not pushed it hard enough so in terms of sound, this thing has been good! 

Aw yeah, 3.5mm headphone jack!

The remote is nice, bigger than an apple TV remote which is a good thing but the volume slider is a little sensitive. Apart from that. No complaints here. 

The Interface: It’s a lot smoother than the branded NowTV Roku player I have. The controller not being IR (although there is the option for controlling other devices via IR) is probably a noticeable difference in speed here. The layout could still use some refining for Android TV but you can generally find what you require and its pretty remote friendly, even most keyboard input sections. I’d still say that if you use long passwords via a password manager, not all apps gracefully offer you an alternative means of logging in / verifying your account. So you might want to break out a keyboard to fly through the various initial logins for apps. Steams input entry was particularly clunky and worthwhile having a keyboard for. 

Gaming: Via Nvidia’s streaming platform. Its good but you’ll need to be considerate of your network and internet contention. By those I mean, Ethernet into the router is ideal and not having anyone else on the network using up the downstream or upstream (sometimes it’s easier to contend the upstream which has a knock-on effect). If you can deal with these and keep them performant then a 40Mbps down and 10Mbps up service should be more then good enough, which is fairly standard in the UK now. 

Streaming: I’ve only got a LG OLED HDR TV and its app inetgrations for comparison but a lot is on par with that in terms of Netflix. It can be tricky with just the Shield to determine the quality at times but that generally down to the apps. With the amount of units in the wild and with the amount being sold over BlackFriday / CyberMonday i’d expect app developers to be giving this platform the attention it deserves.  By deserves, I mean its got decent specs and hardware and next to Roku, is a great impartial device so that you can have nearly all of your streaming services in one place (excluding Apple stuff of course). 

Other: Casting, i’ve not played with this yet. It seems a little hidden away but i’ve not cared to look. Instead I opted for hooking up my Plex media server which works nicely. Its important to note here that limitations can lay with your NAS and network connectivity, especially if you are pushing some seriously large files to the Nvidia Shield. 

The Nvidia shield also has the concept of adopting storage where you can plug a disk in via USB and have it act as part of the units main storage. This can be handy if you need fast local storage. 

I think for me, the device is an agnostic streaming win and with the home media connection capabilities it’ll have some life in it for a while. I’ll likely revisit this once i’ve done a decent amount of gaming on the system but as of right now i’ve not been drawn in by the appeal. It’s a solid: buy, from me though! 

Stream-ripping is ‘fastest growing’ music piracy

Snippet from the article:

“Several sites and apps allow users to turn Spotify songs, YouTube videos and other streaming content into permanent files to store on phones and computers.

Record labels claim that “tens, or even hundreds of millions of tracks are illegally copied and distributed by stream-ripping services each month”.

One service alone is thought to have more than 60 million monthly users.”

Link to article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40519137

I think they’ll always be piracy. Its when the actual consumers of the content suffer that really irks me. Hence why I love services that offer DRM free content so I can do what I want with my purchases! Humble Bundle, Good Old Games (GoG) for instance.

I bet that sometimes its down to awareness as well. Example: I love using Spotify when i’m at my desktop but I only use the free version. If i’m on the go with patchy mobile signal or want to use a bit less battery i’ll use the Amazon Music app as I have prime and can download tunes to play offline. How many people unknowingly forget things like that…

Piracy is pretty harsh on the content owners why you think about it. Be it musicians, games makers, movie makers or any other form of content. They’ll already have cuts taken off by anyone in the middle of the release process so to impact them further really hurts. Just as a games / movie 3D artist working in a central London job and you’ll soon see what i’m talking about.