10 wishes for the new Nvidia Shield TV

The Nvidia Shield TV occupies a special place among streaming TV players. It’s by far the best Android TV box you can buy today, and it’s one of the only streaming devices that doesn’t sacrifice speed to hit a low price. (The other is the Apple TV 4K.)

Still, the current Nvidia Shield TV is more than two years old, and it has the same processor and performance as the original 2015 version. An upgrade is overdue, which may explain why new Shield TV hardware—including both a refreshed streaming box and a possible Shield dongle—recently appeared in FCC filings.

While it’s probably too late at this point to influence new features for the next Nvidia Shield TV, now seems like a good time to revisit what the original Shield got right and wrong, and how a new version could do even better. Here’s my wishlist for the next Nvidia Shield TV:

Basic stuff

Fix the darned remote: The Shield TV remote is among the worst you’ll find on a streaming player today, with an awkward swipe-based volume control strip and a directional pad that serves double-duty for playback controls. The next Shield should have real buttons for TV volume, power, pause, rewind, fast forward, and maybe even mute. While we’re at it, make the remote heftier so it’s not as easily lost between the couch cushions, or make like the Roku Ultra and include a remote finder function.

Jared Newman / TechHive

You’d be forgiven for not realizing the Shield TV remote has volume controls. (It’s a touch-sensitive strip running down the middle of the remote’s bottom half.)

Broader HDR support: While the original Nvidia Shield TV was the first streaming box to support 4K video, it’s since fallen behind newer devices on HDR, which makes images pop by increasing the contrast between light and dark areas of scenes. Instead of just supporting the baseline HDR10 format, let’s see the next Shield work with Dolby Vision and HDR10+, which can optimize a video’s colors on a scene-by-scene basis. Rendering menus in HDR and providing an option to upscale non-HDR content would be nice touches as well.

More storage: If Nvidia is still serious about selling the Shield TV as a gaming machine, it needs a lot more onboard storage than the paltry 16GB built into the current model. Matching the Apple TV 4K’s high-end model at 64GB should be the minimum for the new Shield TV box, especially if Nvidia plans to sell a lower-cost streaming dongle alongside it. Bringing back the original Shield’s MicroSD card slot would also be helpful.

Nerdy stuff

More USB ports (or an approved hub): One of the neatest things about the Nvidia Shield TV is its support for accessories, including external hard drives, TV tuners, smart-home hubs, and wired game controllers. But if you really want to take advantage of those features, two USB ports isn’t enough. If Nvidia isn’t willing to cram more ports into the box itself, it should at least put its seal of approval on some USB hubs that can handle extra accessories without issue.

A customizable game row: While the Shield TV’s update to Android Oreo last year made content easier to discover from the home screen, it also made gaming harder to access by removing the menu section for recently played games. A space on the home screen where users could launch their favorite or most recent games would help re-establish the Shield TV’s gaming chops.