Nvidia packs new Shield TV console with 4K, HDR, Google Assistant

The new Shield TV with 16GB of storage is priced at $199.99, while Shield Pro with 500GB is priced at $299.99

Nvidia rolled out a Shield TV console, arming it with 4K and HDR capabilities for vastly improved gaming and video streaming.

The Android-based Shield also has new tricks: it will double up as a home hub and a voice-activated assistant. It'll bring Google Assistant to TVs, and work with SmartThings to operate smart devices and appliances in a home.

The Shield is powered by the Tegra X1 processor. A model with 16GB of storage will ship later this month for US$199.99, and a Shield Pro model with 500GB storage will be available for $299.99. The models will include a controller and a remote.

Nvidia is taking pre-orders on its website, and it will initially ship in the U.S., Canada and some European countries.

The new Shield is an upgrade from the previous Shield TV, which was announced in the middle of 2014. Shield was already considered one of better TV consoles available, but the upgrade to 4K and HDR (high-dynamic range) makes it even better. HDR provides deeper color and images.

The Shield TV is also partly a gaming console, with the ability to cast games from PCs and stream games from the cloud. The 4K and HDR were necessary upgrades to remain in competition with Microsoft's latest Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation Pro gaming consoles, which have those features.  

Shield will be the first TV platform to stream 4K HDR movies from Netflix and Amazon, said Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, during a keynote at CES on Wednesday.

Users will also be able to stream 4K movies from Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

It'll also support the Steam application, so users can game on TVs. More than 1,000 games are also available in the Nvidia Shield game store. Many new titles from companies like Ubisoft are being added.

The Shield can be used to cast games from a PC with a GeForce graphics card to a TV.

It also has some nifty additional features. One can speak into the game controller or remote to conduct a Google voice search. That will help find content or get answers to questions. It's the same voice search borrowed from the Google Home device.

Huang also showed an "artificial intelligence" microphone called Spot that will be key in making the Shield a home hub. A number of Spot microphones can be placed in rooms across a home. That'll help a user communicate with the Shield, which would help turn on smart lights, shut garage doors or operate a robot vacuum throughout a home. The Spot microphone will be priced at $49.99 and can be purchased separately at a later date.

If you're into Shield devices, this an important upgrade. The previous Shield was capable of 4K, but didn't have HDR. The new Shield also has a faster chip.

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