NVIDIA has used its annual appearance at CES to announce an evolutionary upgrade to the SHIELD TV hardware rather than introducing an entire overhaul of the product.

From a visual perspective, the “new” second-generation SHIELD TV hardware is immediately recognizable and has instant similarities with the outgoing SHIELD TV model introduced 18 months ago. Rather than overhauling the visuals and product design, NVIDIA has focused on streamlining the console+set-top box by making it a staggering 40-percent smaller than its predecessor.

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Those size improvements bring the product more in line with NVIDIA’s competition in this particular space. Things are pretty much the same under-the-hood as well with NVIDIA choosing to build the second-generation SHIELD TV with the same Tegra X1 internals that still makes it a powerhouse for mobile gaming on TV. There’s support for 4K+HDR streaming as well.

It won’t come as any great surprise due to a number of leaks pre-CES, but the major changes with this new hardware are bundled into the swanky new SHIELD controller. NVIDIA has gone back to the drawing board and produced an edgy, very cool looking controller that comes bundled into an angled low-poly shell. There’s also the integration of hands-free voice control via Google Assistant (Yes, Google Assistant on Android TV!) which can be accessed without any button presses or interaction via the “OK Google” command.

– First hands-free Google Assistant integration on TV. Google has optimized the Assistant experience on TV by having the home’s largest screen show visual answers in addition to an audio reply.
– Use voice commands to replace clicking a remote for finding content, pausing, fast-forwarding or rewinding. Plus, Google Assistant can help better find content and answer questions.
– SmartThings Hub technology integration, instantly turning SHIELD into a smart home hub that can connect to hundreds of smart home devices.
NVIDIA SPOT™, an AI mic accessory that makes SHIELD the central backbone of the AI home, extending intelligent control throughout the house.

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If you take away the slimmer, smaller shell of the hardware, and the rather delightful looking controller, you’re essentially left with a new SHIELD TV that will offer the same level of performance and experience as the existing model due to NVIDIA’s decision to use the same internal setup. That includes a Tegra X1 processor, 3GB of RAM, and a standard 16GB of internal storage, upgradeable to 500GB on the SHIELD Pro. If you do need that additional storage that comes with the Pro model, then you’re going to have to make some visual sacrifices as the company is still packaging that equipment into a larger body.

NVIDIA is currently accepting pre-orders for the new SHIELD TV, and will be putting the device on sale later this month on January 16th for $199.99, or $299.99 for the upgraded Pro version, which is the same pricing model as the outgoing hardware.

NVIDIA has also confirmed that “Features announced for the new SHIELD TV will come to current SHIELD devices through an over-the-air software upgrade, available in January.”

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