TV Source Upgrade: NVidia Shield

For a while I was running a WDTV Live Streaming Media Player. While I didn’t use it often, it was handy to have around since it was easy to use.  Another one gets weekly use in a bedroom.  I am going to transfer this one to the TV in the living room, as I can easily set it up to point to the NAS to retrieve movies and TV series.

I replaced my WDTV with a Nexus Player, essentially a Google/Android TV appliance. It worked OK on some media, and it was simple to side load apps so that I could add more functionality. But, the rather limited processing power and a somewhat finicky WiFi radio made it rather choppy.  After adding my HDHomeRun tuner, it would be rare that a program could play without breaking up.

The NVidia Shield arrived today.  It is much, much smaller than I thought it would be!  It’s slim and barely noticeable on a black shelf, until the power is turned on. Plugging in the power and an HDMI cable was all I needed to get it working.

What surprised me right off the bat is how fast this thing is! It downloaded its updates very speedily over WiFi, and I flew through the menus without any lag whatsoever.

After cleaning up the home screen, I loaded in a few needed apps.  Kodi is still as pointless and frustrating as ever (so it may get deleted), but I will sideload BubbleUPnP once I get a chance, and use the VLC player as the default player instead.  I already installed VLC and it was able to connect to my NAS quickly, where I could browse folders and pick out files to play.

Doing some quick tests, the BluRay rips on my server played without any flaws or dropouts.  I could also move backwards and forwards through them easily, again with no lag.

Installing the HDHomeRun app, I was able to play through the DVR recordings with no issues at all, and broadcast TV played without glitches as well, something that gave the Nexus Player fits (unless it was rebooted).  In addition, using the Google TV “Channels” app was able to read all of my channels from the HDHomeRun tuner and display them as a nice program grid on the screen.

I have already installed TinyCam Pro to monitor my home security cameras. I also plan on installing (or sideloading, if necessary) other apps like Chrome, Maps (it is fun to “tour” other areas in Street View), and Weather Underground, and even TripAdvisor.  If not, I can still cast to the Shield, since it acts as a Chromecast endpoint.

I have a spare 5-port gigabit switch which I might deploy at the TV, since I can connect the Shield, a TV, and the devices in the audio system nearby.

This NVidia Shield is a nice bit of hardware.  Once I upgrade my screen to something more modern, it will make for a nice accessory to whatever “smart” features are built into the TV.  Definitely a keeper!  I may even get another one for the living room TV if it remains at its current price.

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