At first glance, my new Nvidia Shield Android TV is a great replacement for my troublesome WD TV Live Streaming box. Merry Christmas to us all.
Most folks have at least one media streaming box hooked up to their television. We use these for watching Netflix or videos off network attached storage. In our house, we have used WD TV Live Streaming for the past five years. Western Digital has a decent reputation, and these devices were available at Costco in Canada for a good price. So, my wife and I each received one for Christmas five years ago.
Unfortunately our problems with the WD TV Live Streaming were constant. I would only rate this device a five out of ten. It was proprietary, which means you were limited only to vendor-supplied capabilities. That would have been okay if it had worked consistently, as all we wanted was Netflix and a few videos.
Our problems were really annoying. First, it took ages to boot up, even if I turned off the “check for updates” feature. Second, it would do a stutter start. It would boot once, stall, and then boot again. The whole process took 1-2 minutes. Third, and worst, it would often just plain die after the first boot. This required a reset. Finally, it would frequently loose its WiFi connection or password (or both). These problems have been noted by many users.
Some of the online groups suggested rolling back to a more stable version of the firmware, and gave suggestions as to which versions were more stable. Tried that but no great joy. All in all, I concluded that WD was not really taking this product that seriously. Even the latest firmware did not really fix everything.
Meanwhile, my kids and friends continued to rave about their Android boxes.
Nvidia Shield Android TV for Christmas
So, I asked for an Android streaming box for Christmas this year, first item on the list. Got one! Thanks, Bob.
My Nvidia Shield box is the version with just the remote control, no gaming for me. With it, I received a helpful “Getting Started” guide. Out of the box, Shield was easy to set up with the normal power supply and HDMI connections. The device has two USB ports, which makes it easy to attach a Bluetooth Keyboard for entering user names and passwords. (One of my sons thoughtfully gave me a new Rii keyboard, as well.) You can do setup either through the box itself or using an app on an Android phone.
Total setup time from unboxing to watching Netflix is under ten minutes, as long as you have your passwords handy.
After a few days of use, I must conclude that the Shield is an order of magnitude faster to start up and use. Zips along. No failures. Boots in seconds. Netflix appears instantly with the built-in app.
Being Android-based, it’s simple to install other applications. You do this either through the built-in Play Store, or side load other Android apps using APK files on a USB drive. For watching videos off my home network shares, I just installed Kodi.
Only two downsides so far. First, the two USB ports on the back panel are very closely spaced. Easy to solve with a cheap USB hub. Second, my version of Nvidia Shield does not contain IR (infrared) so I cannot use my Logitech Harmony. Back to two remotes.