Shield TV (2019) in Hands-On: Nvidia's streaming tube features Dolby Vision and AI upscaling

Shield TV (2019) im Hands-On: Nvidias Streaming-Röhre kann Dolby Vision und KI-Upscaling

tl; dr: Nvidia reissues third-generation Shield TV with stronger Tegra X1 +, Dolby Vision and KI upscaling. Two variants are available: a compact tube that disappears behind the TV, and the console with two USB ports and more memory. The starting price with remote control is 160 euros.

The biggest visible change on Shield TV is the radically new form factor. Where up to now the classic format of a compact console has always been used, a housing in cylindrical form is now used. The small tube should disappear invisible behind the TV. With 16.4 × 3.9 cm (L × D) that works fine. Despite the compact dimensions, the power supply is integrated, only a 142 cm (without plug) long power cable must be connected. Even a small fan is still there, but not heard by the user. On the side of the power plug is also once Gigabit Ethernet. On the other side of the tube are the HDMI 2.0b output and a slot for a microSD card. This compartment can be extended with 8 GB instead of 16 GB this time smaller failing internal memory.

Tegra X1 + is 25 percent faster

On the technical side, the new Tegra X1 + plays the most important role. The processor is equivalent to the Tegra X1 of the old model over a wide range, but is manufactured in 16 nm instead of 20 nm at TSMC and internally bears the designations T210B01 and Mariko. The upgraded Tegra X1 was last used in the Nintendo Switch Lite (test) and in the second generation of the normal switch (HAD-CPU-01).

The SoC features reduced power consumption and higher performance by allowing the Maxwell graphics unit to clock up to 1.267 GHz instead of 1 GHz with 256 CUDA cores. The CPU structure remained almost identical with four ARM Cortex-A57 and four ARM Cortex-A53, explains Nvidia. AIDA64 outputs a maximum clock of 2.014 GHz instead of 1.9 GHz for the Cortex-A57. According to Nvidia, the performance is 25 percent above that of the normal Tegra X1.

AI-based 4K upscaling

Nvidia primarily uses the higher performance for an AI-based upscaling process at 4K resolution. A Nvidia-trained Deep Learning Neural Network will deliver better quality results than the standard upscaling previously used by Nvidia. The network is fed by Nvidia with regular-scaled and true 4K material to predict the difference between the two content. After training, the network only gets the regular scaled footage to independently run the prediction in real time on the Tegra X1 +.

AI-based 4K upscaling on the Tegra X1 +
AI-based 4K upscaling on the Tegra X1 +

AI-based 4K upscaling on the Tegra X1 +
AI-based 4K upscaling on the Tegra X1 +

AI upscaling
AI Upscaling

AI-based 4K upscaling on the Tegra X1 +
AI-based 4K upscaling on the Tegra X1 +

The quality of the upscaling could ComputerBase on the one hand at the German headquarters of Nvidia in Munich view, on the other comparisons have been carried out using YouTube trailers in the editorial. Nvidia's AI upscaling stands out especially in fine details positive eye, such as hair, skin pores, patterns on clothing or house fronts. Even technical installations such as cables are depicted more plastically. For the comparison, several scenes from the trailers to “Star Wars IX” and “Bad Boys for Life” were used. Subtle highlights, for example on the mirror of the car or Will Smith's sunglasses, are also presented more intensively. In the following gallery you can see Nvidia's standard upscaling of the older Shield consoles, then the AI ​​variant and finally a direct comparison.

Nvidia Shield TV (2019) – Scaling comparison

According to Nvidia, source material can be scaled to 4K in 480p, 720p and 1080p. However, the refresh rate may be a maximum of 30 FPS, 60 FPS or interlaced material are not supported. A 1080p50 summary of a Formula 1 race did not scale by AI to 2160p50. In the settings of the AI ​​upscaling you can choose between three levels of intensity of the postprocessing of the image, whereby Nvidia has selected the middle version as standard. At the highest and potentially best quality level, mistakes could still be made due to the early stage of the Deep Learning Neural Network training. Nvidia sees the training as an ongoing process and wants to regularly deliver updates to the console for better upscaling. The first impression looks promising.

Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos are there

The second major change concerns the video and audio formats. Dolby Vision is now on board alongside the previously supported HDR10. Dolby Vision support was demonstrated to editors on LG's OLED TV. Dolby Vision uses dynamic HDR metadata for each frame compared to static HDR10. This gives more freedom in mastering for bright and dark areas of the image.

In the field of audio, the new Shield TV supports the decoding of Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital Plus, instead of outputting the signal only as encoded bitstream. Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-X and DTS-HD can still not be decoded and passed through pass-through, for example, to a suitable receiver or a soundbar with appropriate codec support. The added decoding support for Dolby Atmos is especially important with Netflix, as the streaming provider requires the system sounds of the Shield TV to be mixed into the Dolby Atmos stream. This in turn requires that the decoding takes place directly on the Shield TV and not in a correspondingly equipped receiver or via a soundbar. Also on the remote Nvidia Netflix has accommodated.

On the next page: Remote control with more buttons and lighting


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