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NVIDIA SHIELD vs Fire Stick 4K (2021): Which Streaming Stick Should You Get?

Streaming media players have become a mainstay in home entertainment with the advent of great streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, etc. Two of the smallest and top-performing options today are the NVIDIA SHIELD TV and the Fire TV Stick 4K. Both streaming sticks are capable of delivering 4K HDR picture quality while enabling voice control through their included remotes. If you need help choosing between them, check out our comparison below.

NVIDIA SHIELD vs Fire Stick 4K Streaming Device Comparison Chart

ModelNVIDIA SHIELD TVFire TV Stick 4K
 NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV 4K HDR Streaming Media Player; High Performance, Dolby Vision, Google...Fire TV Stick 4K streaming device with Alexa Voice Remote | Dolby Vision | 2018 release
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Dimensions6.5 x 1.6 x 1.6 inches3.9 x 1.2 x 0.5 inches
Weight4.83 oz (137 g)1.89 oz (53.6 g)
ProcessorNVIDIA Tegra X1+Quad-core 1.7 GHz
GPU256-core NVIDIA GPUIMG GE8300
Storage8 GB8 GB
Wi-FiDual-band MIMODual-band MIMO
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0 + LEBluetooth 5.0 + LE
PortsHDMI 2.0b, MicroSD, Gigabit EthernetHDMI, micro USB
Video QualityUp to 4K HDR, HDR 10, Dolby Vision, AI upscalingUp to 4K UHD HDR, HDR 10, HDR 10+, HLG, Dolby Vision
Audio SupportDolby Atmos, DTS-XDolby Atmos
Voice SupportSHIELD RemoteAlexa Voice Remote (2nd Gen)

Design

The Fire TV Stick 4K is smaller than the NVIDIA SHIELD TV.

The cylindrical shape of the NVIDIA SHIELD TV (left) is bulkier than the flat dongle of the Fire TV Stick 4K (right).

Designed to be hidden away behind wide-screen TVs, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV and Fire TV Stick 4K have unassuming looks and stark black shells. The SHIELD TV is shaped like a baton, with ports at either end to connect it to the TV and power source. Meanwhile, the Fire Stick is a flat rectangle with the HDMI port sticking out at one end. It can fit in crowded rear panels via an included HDMI extender which allows it to hang from the TV.

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV is considerably bigger and heavier than the Fire TV Stick 4K, though it isn’t a big factor given how they’ll be out of the way once properly set up and running. However, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV blends more seamlessly into wiring management setups since cables go in and out of its ends, while the Fire TV Stick 4K has its micro USB slot located in the middle.

The NVIDIA Remote and Alexa Voice Remote are more interesting to compare, which we’ll cover in a section below.

Features

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV has more gaming options than the Fire TV Stick 4K.

Using GeForce NOW, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV can transform your TV into a powerful PC gaming machine.

You can find all of the most popular streaming platforms on both NVIDIA SHIELD TV and Fire TV Stick 4K. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, you name it, you can stream it. Well, actually, that’s not so true for the Fire TV Stick 4K, as it doesn’t have Vudu, iTunes, and YouTube TV. The absence of Vudu and iTunes limits the number of titles you can watch with Dolby Vision, a notable new feature for both streaming sticks.

Both NVIDIA SHIELD TV and Fire TV Stick 4K have Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity so you can use compatible speakers, headphones, and video game controllers. However, the SHIELD TV has a Gigabit Ethernet port so you can get direct wired connections to your router. Moreover, it has a MicroSD expansion slot for additional storage. This gives you plenty of room for apps and games while the Fire TV Stick 4K only has its base 8 GB to work with.

So while both media players are highly capable at streaming movies and TV shows, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV has the upper hand when it comes to gaming. It comes with the GeForce NOW app that lets you stream games from PC libraries you own, such as Steam, Epic Games, and UPLAY. You can stream from your NVIDIA-powered gaming PC to your 4K TV through the GameStream app, too. The Google Play Games service is available as well.

Performance

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV is faster and more powerful than the Fire TV Stick 4K.

Netflix has tons of content that can take advantage of the Dolby Vision + Atmos capabilities of the NVIDIA SHIELD TV and Fire TV Stick 4K.

If you already have an older streaming media stick, the best reason to upgrade to either the NVIDIA SHIELD TV or Fire TV Stick 4K is Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, assuming your TV supports them of course. Both devices can let you enjoy titles in 4K HDR, HDR10, and HDR10+ formats, but adding Dolby Vision + Atmos into the mix results in the best cinematic home experiences ever.

However, to take advantage of this superb picture and audio quality, you’ll be relying heavily on Netflix for the Fire TV Stick 4K, since Amazon’s catalog is limited when it comes to Dolby Vision supported titles. Meanwhile, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV has Vudu and can access iTunes libraries, which provide more sources to look through. In addition, the SHIELD TV has AI upscaling, letting you get 4K quality from lower resolution content. Don’t expect miraculous transformations for SDR video, though, since the AI upscaling works far better on HD and HDR content.

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV is powered by Android TV, which is Google’s most user-friendly streaming interface yet. It has a high-contrast look and easy to navigate layout in neatly arranged categories. In comparison, you’ll need to wade through loads of Amazon content on the Fire TV Stick 4K, since Amazon really wants you to check out their stuff before anybody else’s.

With a quad-core processor, the Fire TV Stick 4K is much faster than its predecessor, so you get faster loading times for apps. However, the NVIDIA Tegra X1+ of the SHIELD TV outperforms it, though there are still more powerful sticks out there.

Controls

The Fire TV Stick 4K has better voice control than the NVIDIA SHIELD TV.

The SHIELD Remote (left) is longer and slimmer than the Alexa Voice Remote 2nd Gen (right).

The differences between the SHIELD Remote and Alexa Voice Remote (2nd Gen), which are included with their streaming sticks, go beyond their size and shape. The SHIELD Remote is a bit unusual since it has a triangular design similar to a Toblerone chocolate bar. However, it’s actually comfortable to hold since it nestles right into your palm and fingers.

Meanwhile, the Alexa Voice Remote 2nd Gen sports the same design as the 1st Gen but with additional buttons. The new buttons on the 2nd Gen Alexa Voice Remote include controls for your TV’s power and volume as well as a mute button. This means you can rely on it nearly all of the time and only bring out your TV’s remote when you need to change settings.

The SHIELD Remote has similarly added volume controls, but it goes further with a dedicated Netflix shortcut and a settings button so you can make changes without needing to go back to the NVIDIA SHIELD TV home page. Moreover, its buttons are backlit, making it easier to use with the lights out.

However, the small mic on the SHIELD Remote can make voice control annoying at times, as it can often mishear what you’re saying. It has Google Assistant built in but will also work with Alexa. In contrast, you’ll have a better experience with the mic on the Alexa Voice Remote (2nd Gen), letting you control your home entertainment setup pretty easily whether via buttons or your voice.

Verdict

The Fire TV Stick 4K is easily better value while the NVIDIA SHIELD TV is better for gaming.

Because the NVIDIA SHIELD TV costs three times as much, the Fire TV Stick 4K will be the better buy for the majority of homes. It offers similar Dolby Vision + Atmos features for enhanced picture and audio quality along with more reliable voice control via Alexa. The Amazon-heavy interface can take some getting used to, but if you’re well into its ecosystem, the Fire TV Stick 4K definitely makes the most sense.

Cloud gaming and streaming are two of the best reasons to spend more for the NVIDIA SHIELD TV, which provides numerous ways to transform your TV into a full-fledged PC rig. Its interface is cleaner and more neutral, and the settings button on its remote is quite handy while watching videos. You’ll be able to access more Dolby Vision catalogs on the NVIDIA SHIELD TV, too, and you can enhance older non-4K titles with its impressive AI upscaling feature.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ Is it worth upgrading to Firestick 4K?

Yes, the new Fire TV Stick 4K offers several improvements over the original Fire TV stick such as HDR and HDR10 streaming and enhanced remote control. Even if you don’t have a 4K HDR TV, the 2nd-generation Alexa Voice Remote has an infrared emitter that lets you control your TV’s power and volume.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does NVIDIA SHIELD support 4K?

Yes, it does. The NVIDIA SHIELD TV released in 2019 is capable of streaming 4K HDR and Dolby Vision content. Moreover, it has an AI upscaling feature that can enhance HD videos to 4K quality.

๐Ÿ“Œ What’s the difference between Amazon Fire Stick and 4K?

The Amazon Fire TV Stick can only stream up to 1080p or HD quality while the Fire TV Stick 4K can deliver 4K UHD and HDR resolution. Note that you’ll still need a 4K TV in order to fully utilize the Fire TV Stick 4K.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does the NVIDIA SHIELD support HDR?

Yes, the 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD TV has 4K HDR streaming capabilities.

Last update on 2020-12-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.