Nvidia launched the original Shield Android TV box in 2015, and it’s still amazingly well supported. After all these years, Nvidia is rolling out an update to Android 9 Pie. The new build is appearing on Shields all over the world right now, bringing new HDR features, enhanced program suggestions, and more.
There are two versions of the Shield, and both are getting the update because they’re virtually the same on the inside. The 2015 box was a little larger and came bundled with the game controller 100 percent of the time. The 2017 re-release is smaller and is available with the remote only for those who don’t want to play games. Both versions of the Shield have the Tegra X1 ARM chip, the same piece of silicon powering the Nintendo Switch.
Confusingly, the Shield’s new update is “Shield Experience 8.0,” but the underlying Android version is Pie (Android 9). Android 9 on phones included a number of major design changes, but the Android TV UI has changed in less obvious ways. Setting up Android TV on Pie is much less painful, for example. The autofill API now brings in account details from your other devices, and the Shield will know Wi-Fi passwords you’ve already used on a phone or tablet.
Nvidia offers support for HDR 10 on the Shield and has for several years. The Pie update includes a new HDR feature called Match Content Color Space that automatically adjusts display modes on the fly to make colors more accurate in various scenarios — even just scrolling through the home screen. Nividia is also adding new integrations with the Hulu app, which itself just got a major update on Android TV. That was actually the first update of the Hulu Android TV app in about four years. It supports Hulu’s live streaming service now, and that content will appear in the Shield’s recommended channel UI.
Your day-to-day experience with the Shield might not change dramatically after the update, but that’s a good thing. Nvidia is maintaining this piece of hardware better than any other Android device of which I’m aware. Even though it’s running behind on updates with Android Q coming soon, it’s still been supported for more than four years. If only you could expect that from Samsung when you buy its latest $1,000 smartphone. The Shield is still on sale today (in its second incarnation) starting at $180.