A new Shield TV is coming? Discussion within ….

Rumor all over the internet is that a new Shield TV is coming.  After all, it’s been quite awhile (like 100 years in “tech years”).  CES 2017 would be a perfect place to unveil it – so let’s see what we have.

Android Police and other sources have scored pictures of what appears to be the new controller and a strikingly similar main unit and Remote controller.  Let’s speculate after the photo (courtesy of Android Police):

Let’s start with the controller – since it shows the biggest change in the photo.

What we have here is a sensible physical update.  The controller has been leaned down around the handles.  Gone is the touchpad that worked-for-one-build-then-never-again.  The “microwave” touch buttons for BACK, PLAY and HOME.  With luck, the over-sensitive power on Nvidia logo will be gone and a different button (any button) would wake the controller up.

Xbox One: Am I wrong?

The D-Pad has removed the futile “other 4” diagonals.  This puts it on par with other modern controllers like the Xbox One.  The volume buttons are gone (maybe the center slider area works like the Shield Remote?) … hopefully volume control remains possible from the controller as it is one of my favorite features.  Speaking of Xbox One controllers, my goodness if those analog sticks looks EXACTLY like them – right down to the textures around the outside edge.

With the slendering of the controller, my guess is that we still won’t see rumble or force feedback make it into the controller.  The microphone above the logo is still there – so that’s good.  I fear the headphone jack is going away too which is too bad.  I liked it.

Rumor mill (and recent FCC related documentation) says the controller will drop the “Wi-Fi Direct” connectivity and go to Bluetooth.  I’m good with that.  Also let’s your Shield Controllers work with other Android devices.  Of course, it will also work with your original Shield TV that way too.

Moving on to the Shield Remote.  Doesn’t look any different – but if “Wi-Fi Direct” goes on the Shield Controller?  It is gone from here, too.  We need low power consumption Bluetooth here – and it only makes sense to move that way.  I worry the headset jack may be gone here too – but the input needs of a controller like this doesn’t seem as heavy as a gaming controller.  Maybe Bluetooth will be enough.

That leaves us with the main unit.  What might the refresh be all about?  The unit pictured IS smaller than the original Shield TV – but while everyone says “it’s smaller”?  I don’t believe the photo is accurate.  The main unit looks scaled to fit.  I’m going to go with the idea that the box is the same size.

One possibility?  Same specs – just cheaper.  After all, prices go down on everything as the fabrication costs go down.  This could simply be a literal refresh.  This is my bet.

I’m guessing the Pro version is history.  There will only be ONE Shield Android TV – this sans hard drive version is it.  The fact that Shield Android TV is almost impossible to buy right now says to me; phase out the old – make room for the new.  This isn’t a “cousin” or companion SKU.  This is the NEW SKU … and the ONLY SKU.  If the size stays the same, it also lets the existing (albeit overpriced) stand continue to work.

Naturally, we could see a boost in the internal storage; unlikely – but a nice 32GB or 64GB unit would remove the need for most people to hook up an external drive.  Still not usable for a good strong Plex machine – but for the “Android Gamer”?  Sure.  Mass media folks?  Network storage or USB drives plugged in will be your only choice.

Unfortunately, Plex and other software chokes on external/NAS storage; lacking full read/write access – limiting the device’s ability.  Sadly, this is more likely a Google thing and not an NVidia thing.,  Not having a Pro version will be missed.  But, if this guy has been retooled to allow a trapdoor SSD expansion?  That would be incredible.

What about an upgrade to the processor?  Will we see an X2/Pascal upgrade?  It should – but my Magic 8 Ball says “Outlook not so good”.  If the unit really IS smaller then that says to me that we’re seeing a cheaper-not-better model here.  I also believe that NVidia is feeling the pressure of lower priced units like the Mi Box and Amazon’s offerings.  Generic Android TV boxes are a dime a dozen (well, $60 and less – fully loaded with piracy playback of TV and movies) on eBay and other markets.

Getting a sub $150 premium box on the shelves with the power of X1 (which is what is apparently powering the new Nintendo console, Switch) would put NVidia in a very good position.

The Devil’s Advocate whispers in my ear.  Why put something NEW on the market that saddles up the same as Nintendo’s forthcoming console?  Wouldn’t you want your own product to be more attractive?  After all, the Shield TV isn’t hobbled by “battery life” – it can run full power all the time.  Why not take something the auto division paid R&D for and slap it in your new box?  Why would NVidia release something that will undoubtedly be compared to the Nintendo Switch?  Maybe what we are seeing is length of tooth in engineering driving the price down while popping that hot new processor under the hood.  Forget the sub-$150 though, in that case.  Maybe we’re talking about more power, same price?

The fantasy?  A Shield TV – X2 equipped – featuring 64GB onboard storage along with 3 or 4GB of RAM.  No more Wi-Fi Direct; all Bluetooth all the time.  Put that out for $199-$249 along with some serious ass launch titles.  God bless us, every one.

Truth looks more like this.  Cheaper, better-designed main unit (with a couple of minor build issues fixed, please).  Probably 32GB out of the box (16GB makes no sense at this point).  Same ports.  Fresh controllers. All for the low, low price of $99 to $149.

All we can do is speculate another couple of weeks and hope for more leaks.

What do you think NVidia is up to?  Post your thoughts in the comments.

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