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NVIDIA SHIELD 2017 vs 2019 (2021): Is It Worth the Upgrade?

NVIDIA expanded its SHIELD TV lineup not too long ago with not one, but two new models: the tubular SHIELD TV and the SHIELD TV Pro. It goes without saying that they build on the SHIELD TV 2017 with new features and capabilities, but are they compelling enough to warrant an upgrade?

We compare the three to give you a better picture and help you make an informed buying decision.

NVIDIA Shield 2017 vs 2019 Comparison Chart

ModelNVIDIA SHIELD TV (2017)NVIDIA SHIELD TV (2019)NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro (2019)
 NVIDIA Shield TV | 4K HDR Streaming Media PlayerNVIDIA SHIELD Android TV 4K HDR Streaming Media Player; High Performance, Dolby Vision, Google...NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro 4K HDR Streaming Media Player; High Performance, Dolby Vision, 3GB RAM,...
PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
ChipsetNVIDIA Tegra X1NVIDIA Tegra X1+NVIDIA Tegra X1+
RAM3 GB2 GB3 GB
Storage16 GB (expandable via USB)8 GB (expandable via microSD card)16 GB (expandable via USB or hard drives)
Operating SystemAndroid 8.0 Oreo (upgradable to Android 9.0 Pie)Android 9.0 PieAndroid 9.0 Pie
Video4K HDR (60 fps), 4K (60 fps), 1080p (60 fps)4K HDR (60 fps), Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10, AI upscaling (4K at 30 fps)4K HDR (60 fps), Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10, AI upscaling (4K at 30 fps)
AudioDolby Atmos (pass-through), Dolby TrueHD (pass-through), DTS-X, DTS-HD (pass-through)Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD (pass-through), DTS-X (pass-through), DTS-HD (pass-through)Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD (pass-through), DTS-X (pass-through), DTS-HD (pass-through)
Remote ControlBluetooth connectivity, IR blaster, voice search, button cell batteriesBluetooth connectivity, IR blaster, voice search, motion-activated backlit buttons, remote locator, two AAA batteriesBluetooth connectivity, IR blaster, voice search, motion-activated backlit buttons, remote locator, two AAA batteries
Voice AssistantGoogle Assistant (built in), Amazon Alexa compatibleGoogle Assistant (built in), Amazon Alexa compatibleGoogle Assistant (built in), Amazon Alexa compatible
Connectivity2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.12.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.02.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
PortsTwo USB 3.0 Type A, HDMI 2.0, Gigabit ethernetHDMI 2.0, Gigabit ethernet, microSD card slotTwo USB 3.0 Type A, HDMI 2.0, Gigabit ethernet

Performance

The SHIELD TV 2019 has a faster processor than the SHIELD TV 2017.

Nvidia Shield 2017 vs 2019 Performance
The SHIELD TV 2017 (left) has more RAM and storage than the SHIELD TV 2019 (right).

Under the hood, the SHIELD TV 2019 only has a few advantages here and there over the SHIELD TV 2017.

First off, the new machines are now powered by the Tegra X1+, which should be up to 25 percent faster, according to NVIDIA. This might not matter much if you don’t game, but if you do, then this can go a long way.

Even though it has a newer chipset, the non-pro version of the SHIELD TV 2019 has 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of native storage, while the SHIELD TV 2017 has 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of space, like the SHIELD TV Pro. You’ll also need a microSD card to expand its storage rather than a USB stick. In other words, these could be considered as downgrades.

Both of the new versions do support Bluetooth 5.0 and run on Android 9.0 Pie from the get-go. For the record, the 2017 variant is upgradable to Android 9.0 Pie.

Video and Audio

The SHIELD TV 2019 ups the ante with Dolby Vision.

Nvidia Shield 2017 vs 2019 Video and Audio
NVIDIA included AI upscaling technology in the new models.

Arguably, the biggest reason to get the SHIELD TV 2019 is Dolby Vision, which is basically Dolby’s proprietary HDR. Needless to say, you’ll need a TV that can support it. And before anyone asks, no, HDR10+ isn’t in the mix.

Another new, nifty feature in the video department is AI upscaling. Using artificial intelligence, the SHIELD TV 2019 can upscale 720p and 1080p videos to 4K at 30 fps. Typically, 4K TVs can already do this on their own, but NVIDIA says its technology can produce clearer and sharper results.

In terms of audio, the 2019 models bring Dolby Digital Plus to the table. Put simply, it should deliver an overall better audio quality than the previous generation’s Dolby Digital. Put technically, it offers more channels to work with, a higher bitrate, and more efficient compression.

Remote Controller

NVIDIA beefed up the remote controller for the SHIELD TV 2019.

Nvidia Shield 2017 vs 2019 Remote Controller
The remote of the SHIELD TV Pro (in photo) has a dedicated Netflix button.

Once you see the new Shield Remote, the first thing that’ll likely jump out at you is the big Netflix button, which has a pretty self-explanatory function already. Other not-so-obvious additions include a lost remote locator and motion-activated backlit buttons. Speaking of, it now has more media controls, volume controls, and a programmable button you can set to fire up, say, Plex.

Last but not least, it also runs on two AAA batteries instead of coin cells. Elsewhere, it’s more or less the same as the old remote in the sense that it still has Bluetooth connectivity and voice search.

The good news is the new remote controller is compatible with the 2015 and 2017 versions of the SHIELD TV. Regardless of whether or not you’re sold on the new SHIELD TV 2019, you can breathe new life into the older models with the updated Shield Remote.

Verdict

The SHIELD TV 2019 has a lot of new features, but the SHIELD TV 2017 can already get the job done and then some.

If you’re upgrading from the SHIELD TV 2017, the new 2019 models aren’t exactly worth getting. That’s unless you really care about Dolby Vision, Dolby Digital, and AI upscaling. Besides, you could always get the new Shield Remote if you want to improve the experience.

If you don’t own any of these devices, the SHIELD TV Pro is your best bet. The price gap between it and the 2017 version isn’t wide and the new features are by all means a welcome addition.

The non-pro SHIELD TV 2019 is a decent choice as well. While it has lesser RAM and a smaller storage than the 2017 model, it has more features and a better processor. On top of that, it starts at a lower price point.

FAQs

📌 What’s the difference between the NVIDIA SHIELD TV 2017 and 2019?

The main difference is the SHIELD TV 2019 has a faster Tegra X1+ processor, Dolby Vision, Dolby Digital Plus, and AI upscaling. It also comes with the new Shield Remote with more controls for media and volume and a dedicated Netflix button.

📌 What’s the difference between the NVIDIA SHIELD TV 2019 standard and Pro models?

The non-pro SHIELD TV 2019 has a tubular form factor and has 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of native storage that’s expandable via a microSD card. Meanwhile, the SHIELD TV Pro looks similar to the 2017 model and has 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of built-in storage that’s expandable via a USB stick or hard drive.

📌 Is the new NVIDIA SHIELD TV 2019 worth the upgrade?

Coming from the SHIELD TV 2017, the SHIELD TV 2019 isn’t much of an upgrade. However, if Dolby Vision, Dolby Digital Plus, and AI upscaling matter to you, then it’s worth getting.

📌 Is the new Shield Remote compatible with the NVIDIA SHIELD TV 2017?

Yes. In January, NVIDIA released an update that made the new Shield Remote compatible with the 2015 and 207 models of the SHIELD TV.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.