Nvidia Shield Android TV Review

Introduction


The Nvidia Shield TV is here at last, the much-anticipated successor to the already feature packed and exciting line of Android-powered Nvidia gaming devices. The original Shield is a great little hand-held, and we’ve tested it extensively since it was released, pushing the limits of what can be done with it, just check out the links below to see more. Then we have the Shield Tablet, a mini powerhouse of mobile gaming that still dominates the mobile gaming market for Android, in my opinion at least. Now we’ve got the Shield TV, a set-top box packed with some of the latest and greatest Nvidia mobile hardware, promising greater performance than any previous Shield devices, and more than any other competing devices on the market.

 

“NVIDIA SHIELD is an amazing Ultra HD streaming media player, delivering incredible resolution in favorite apps like Netflix 4K and YouTube 4K, YouTube, KODI (XBMC), and PLEX. Vivid 10-bit color and rich Dolby 7.1 surround sound make this a true home theater experience. Or plug your headphones into your SHIELD controller or SHIELD remote for a private listening experience.” said Nvidia

Equipped with the powerful new Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, which features an impressive 256-core GPU and 3GB of RAM, offers up 4K capability, support for a huge range of video and audio formats, 16GB of storage, high-speed networking and so much more; I’m amazed this little box only costs £149.99!

“Explore a world of entertainment, powered by Android TV. Tap into Google Play for a huge, dynamic selection of movies, TV shows, and apps. Say “Oscar-winning movies” or “launch Netflix” and let Google’s advanced voice commands do the work for you. Get personalized recommendations on your home screen. Even cast a show or pictures to your TV from your PC, Android, or iOS device with built-in Google Cast. SHIELD makes it fast and easy.” Said Nvidia

Equipped with a range of cool apps as standard, you’ll also find Shield Hub, Nvidia GRID and more, so there’s no doubt that this is going to be a multimedia powerhouse right out of the box.

The packaging is nice and tidy, with a good image of the Shield on the front, as well as the main spec; such as this being the 16GB model.

Around the back, we can see it’s powered by Android TV, supports voice search, 4K and gaming.

As a nice bonus, we also have the Shield remote, an optional £39.99 accessory.

The remote is super sleek, with a nice mixture of brushed aluminium finishes and a few simple buttons. The microphone button lights up in green when pressed and theirs a microphone at the top for voice controls.

At the base, a small micro-USB recharging port and a 3.5mm jack for headsets/headphones.

And finally, a brushed aluminium back.

It fits nicely in your hand and the control buttons are simple enough, a directional D-pad with a central select button, as well as a back and ok button below that.

Opening up the box, everything is very nicely packaged.

There’s a modular plug for international users, HDMI cable, micro USB cable, Shield controller and a support guide.

DMCA Exception Makes Smart TV Hacking Legal

Every three years, the US Copyright Office listens to petitions to make revisions and exemptions to the anti-circumvention protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The Software Freedom Conservancy used the most recent review as an opportunity to make jailbreaking smart TVs legal under the DMCA, an exemption which, surprisingly, was granted by the Librarian of Congress on Tuesday (27th October).

While Hollywood studios protested against any amendment to the DMCA over fears that it would facilitate the installation of software, such as Popcorn Time, that could be used to watch pirated content, the Copyright Office ruled that hacking a smart TV to utilise legal software constitutes fair use, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The ruling reads [.pdf]:

“The Register also found that the prohibition on circumvention is adversely affecting legitimate noninfringing uses of smart TV firmware, and that the proposed alternatives to circumvention, such as connecting a laptop computer to the TV, are inadequate, because they would not allow installation of software on the smart TV to improve its functioning as a TV, such as facilitating more prominent subtitles. The Register also concluded that no evidence was submitted to illustrate opponents’ claim that jailbreaking of smart TVs will make it easier to gain unauthorized access to copyrighted content, or that it would otherwise undermine smart TVs as a platform for the consumption of expressive works.”

Other DMCA exemptions allows DVD and Blu-Ray footage to be used and edited for educational, critical, or documentary purposes under fair use, which should hopefully stymie some of the more spiteful DMCA takedowns of such works on YouTube.

Arion Bluetooth Mini Keyboard with Speakerphone Review

Introduction


Touch screen devices can be a pain to type on, although admittedly the issue isn’t as bad as it used to be as many of us have had a good few years practice now and screens, as well as keyboard applications, have improved greatly over the years. Then you’ve got PlayStation, where entering data to the on-screen keyboard via the controller can be a very tedious process. To solve any issues, or at least mitigate the issues a little, you can invest in a separate keyboard, such as the Arion KB100B-BK which I have with me today.

This little keyboard isn’t nothing too fancy, but for a small keyboard, it does pack an interesting feature set into such a small device. You’ve got a QWERTY keyboard, all the major functions you would expect to need on your mobile device, desktop OS or console and even a built-in speaker phone. It uses Bluetooth to connect to iPads, Android devices, smart TVs, consoles and pretty much everything with Bluetooth support.

The keyboard comes bundled with a mini-USB to USB charging cable, as the device has an internal rechargeable battery.

It’s pretty simple in terms of design, with a durable yet lightweight plastic body and rubberised keys that are clearly labeled with all their major functions. To cram as many features in as possible, almost every key has an Fn-Shift function.

On the underside of the keyboard, you’ll find a small microphone and speaker setup, which can be used to hands-free calls. Not much use to smartphones which already have this function, but it could be useful for some tablets, smart TVs and consoles for services such as Skype.

The super slim design means it’s a very manageable device; it’ll fit in your pocket or bag easy enough.

Around the back, you’ll find the mini-USB charging port, as well as a master power switch to help conserve the battery.

It is quite small, so touch typing with all of your fingers isn’t going to be possible, but you can still type fairly confidently if you’re writing a quick email, although perhaps not suitable for writing your dissertation.

When powered up, there’s a small blue LED in the top right, which blinks red when the battery is running low.

As you can see, it’s really not too big, clocking in a little smaller than my Xperia Z3.

Here it is next to an iPad Air, although admittedly the unit is better designed to type using your thumbs while holding it in your hands, it wouldn’t be impossible to use it while sat at a table.

Xiaomi Enters Guinness World Record for Selling 2.11 Million Phones in a Day

Xiaomi, the Chinese electronics company and world’s 3rd largest smartphone distributor, appears to have recently set a new Guinness World Record in terms of smartphone selling. The company managed to sell 2.11 million phones during a 24h period.

Xiaomi also appears to have made $335 million worth of revenue from selling smartphones, Mi Bands, Mi TVs and various other gadgets. Though the 2.11 million smartphone figure seems a lot, even if it was made in a day, it represents only a fraction of Xiaomi’s intentions, having the company announcing that it wants to sell well over 100 million smartphones this year.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information

Sony Unveils World’s Thinnest 4K LCD TV at Just 4.9mm Thick

Sony has revealed its new line of Bravia televisions – a broad mix of 1080p and 4K models, some of which were previewed at CES 2015 – the highlight of which is the X9000C, a 4K TV with a thickness of just 4.9mm, making it thinner than most smartphones.

The X9000C also boasts a 65-inch bezel-free screen, a “floating style” screen suspension, and Sony’s X1 processing chip. The X1 allows views to “enjoy incredible 4K images with greater clarity, more lifelike colours and sparkling contrast” by utilising a Precision Detail Enhancer, Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, and precision colour mapping.

Most of the new Bravia models, including the X9000C, run Android TV, the smart TV platform developed by Google.

Sources: Sony

Xiaomi Launches 40-Inch Android-Powered Smart TV for Only $320

Rising Chinese tech giant Xiaomi has launched a new Android-powered 40-inch smart TV at a very affordable price.

The Xiaomi Mi TV 2 is available for the bargain price of $320, and boasts a 1080p Sharp LED display with 5000:1 contrast ratio, Cortex-A9 quad-core 1.45GHz CPU, 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of flash storage and a MIUI TV OS running through Android 4.4 KitKat.

The TV is capable of playing H.265, H.264, MPEG4, REAL, RM, FLV, MOV, AVI, MKV, TS, and MP4 formats.

The thin display – 14.5mm, front to back – also doubles as an Android gaming console.

With Xiaomi is making strides into the US and European markets this year, it seems likely that this impressive (and impressively cheap) television will be available in the West very soon.

Source: Gizmodo

Samsung TVs Inserting Ads into Third-Party Movies and Shows

Reports have emerged that Samsung Smart TVs have started interrupting third-party content – such as film or television streamed to the television from a computer – to insert Pepsi adverts.

Many disgruntled users have been posting the same complaint on the r/plex subreddit, Plex being the Samsung Smart TV media centre. NexVentor commented, “Every movie I play 20-30 minutes in it plays the Pepsi ad, no audio but crisp clear ad. It has happened on 6 movies today.” Another dozen or so people have reported the same problem.

The same Pepsi ad has also be affecting users of the Australian TV streaming service Foxtel while using the service through a Samsung Smart TV. Foxtel has assured customers that “this absolutely should not be happening and is being escalated immediately.”

Samsung is yet to comment on the matter.

Source: Gigaom

Tizen OS Will Power Samsung’s Smart TVs This Year

Samsung Electronics announced that all of their Smart TVs in 2015 will run on a new platform built around the Tizen operating system. Tizen is a standardized open-source platform that enables flexibility with even more content and devices and one that allows developers to easily create compatible content. This is the second mobile operating system after WebOS we’ve seen make the move to the Smart TVs in favour of the previous systems that really weren’t that smart.

“Building our Smart Platform around Tizen is a groundbreaking step towards a much more intelligent and integrated system,” said Won Jin Lee, Executive Vice President of the Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. “Tizen not only enriches the entertainment experience for our customers today, but unlocks great potential for the future in home entertainment.”

The new Tizen Smart TV interface uses a similar look to the one we’ve seen on WebOS, but it’s also one of the smartest ways to do it. Tizen powered TVs will also come with features such as WiFi Direct to stream from mobile devices and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) that can search for nearby compatible devices and create direct links for even easier control.

Samsung has as always teamed up with partners to provide more content such as live sport events with smart overlays, Bingo HOME: Race to Earth game and Milk Video service. Also available is the cool PlayStation Now cloud-streaming where you don’t need any console to play. All it takes is connecting a Dualshock 4 controller with the TV (North America only as far as i know).

Thanks to Samsung for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Samsung

Windows Capable Intel Bay Trail HDMI TV Stick Coming Soon

TV sticks that convert any TV into an Android powered Smart TV are no strange thing these days. We’ve got everything from Chromecast technology to whole android games consoles that run from a single HDMI socket; now it looks like Windows is the new benchmark.

A company has begun manufacturing a HDMI stick that is equipped with the Intel Atom Z3735F Bay Trail processor; this means it should support Windows 8.1, Android, Ubuntu and more! The Meegopad Intel quad Core Dongle is selling for $70 per piece, but is currently only shipping in batches of 500. I would expect the actual retail price to be more like $100 once they find their way to retail markets.

The unit features a quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB to 32GB eMMC storage, a microSD card slot, 2 micro USB 2.0 ports, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a HDMI connector. The whole thing is just 3.9 x 1.5 x 0.4″ and weighs just 1.6 ounces.

While it may not offer incredible performance given the specifications, the fact this whole unit can be run from a single HDMI port is pretty incredible and could prove useful for HTPC users or a nice alternative for those who want a more versatile smart TV.

Thank you Liliputing for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Liliputing.

Qualcomm Cancels 4K Smart TV Chip, Cites Weak Demand

Qualcomm has announced that it will not be putting the Snapdragon 802 processor into commercial production. The Snapdragon 802 was a quad core processor designed to stream and process 4K content for Smart TVs. The chip was expected to bring a robust app experience and extensive multi-tasking support to the table. Yet the Snapdragon 802 will not see the light of day because Qualcomm thinks the demand for (4K) Smart TVs is too small to be commercially viable, or as they phrased it demand is “smaller than anticipated”.

Qualcomm says that the decision to scrap the Snapdragon 802 does not affect other products Qualcomm are shipping in the same segment. There is still strong demand for smart TVs in general, just not at 4K, so we should expect Qualcomm to stay actively involved in developing Smart TV chips.

Image courtesy of Engadget, Via Engadget

LG Slash Price Of Curved OLED TV, Same It’s Still Crazy Expensive

When we were at CES 2013 and more recently, CES 2014, we saw endlessly impressive curved OLED displays that were nothing short of amazing to look at, yet the only that that made our jaws drop even further were the prices being asked for these digital behemoths. Prices were often in the region of $15,000 to $40,000 for some of the latest displays and that meant that mean mortals would likely never see one.

More recently we’ve seen LG’s first commercial OLED TV take a massive price drop from $15,000 down to just $10,000. That’s still an insane amount of money for a TV, but still makes a 1/3 price drop for the set, not a discount to be sniffed at. Yet with five figures still in the price tag it was clear that the technology still had a long way to develop before it reached the level of your average consumer. Now LG have slashed the price of their 55″ curved display once again, bringing the price down to $7000 (after an instant $1000 rebate).

$7000 is still damn expensive, but at least the displays are now down to the same level as the early 3DTV models, give it another year and we should be looking at less than half of that price for the curved display. Yet as long as you can pick up a bigger 4K display without a curved screen for less money and the curved OLED, we suspect that even enthusiasts will be feeling more inclined to keep their screens curve free.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Google Might Be Working On A Nexus TV Box

The Nexus family could extend to smart TV next year, according to an article by The Information via Tech Report. A Nexus-branded set-top box is in the works, but unfortunately very little is known about it.

We can expect the Nexus set-top-box to be an Android device capable of running both games and video streaming services. Users will be able to control it with their smartphones or tablets, and Engadget states that it will be “aggressively priced” and intended as a “gaming box.”

There are rumors that say Google could be planning the launch for Q1 2014. Details of how the Nexus set-top box would be different from the standalone Google TV devices are not clear at the moment, give the fact that current smart TVs from Asus and Netgear for example are capable of running Android games. I haven’t seen those marketed very aggressively, though, and according to Gigaom, Google plans to get rid of the Google TV brand and push Android for the living room.

Thank you Tech Report for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Google

Man Hacks TV Into A Smart TV With Raspberry Pi

Smart TV is still a popular buzz word for TV manufacturers, and for the most part it revolves around the TV being internet connected to serve up apps such as streaming services, Facebook, DLNA features etc. DroidBuild user ‘Carnivore’ wanted a slick smart TV, but wanted to bring the price down by doing a self build.

By taking a fairly standard LED display from Hisense, he stripped out the TV speaker and crammed in the ever popular Raspberry Pi computer, which as many of you will know, is about the size of a cigarette packet. Naturally this is a sure fire way to void your warranty.

Using a 3D printer to create a custom faceplate for the Raspberry Pi so that it matches the edge of the TV, as well as an install of Raspbmc that can take advantage of the newly installed Ethernet USB ports, infrared adapter and a new external speaker output (vital given that the user removed the built-in speakers).

It’s not the first time someone has hooked a Raspberry Pi to a TV, but most users just stick it on the back of the screen, this is the first time we’ve seen someone integrate the whole thing and the end result is rather cool.

Thank you Droid Build for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Droid Build.

Hisense Launch Feature Packed 4K TV For Just $2,000

Ok so maybe the word “just” isn’t quite right when we are talking about something that costs $2,000. Yet with models from Sony’s flagship range costing in excess of $5,000 the new 4K ready smart TV from Hisense sounds like a pretty good deal.

It was only a few days ago that we bought you news of the even more budget friendly Seiki 55″ 4K TV for only $1,500, but that TV didn’t pack anywhere near as many features as the Hisense. It certainly looks like manufacturers are keen to get their models out in time for Christmas to capitalise on the sales and impulse buys over the holiday season.

The T880 55-inch 4K Smart TV from Hisense packs a solid feature range that includes built-in WiFi, smart TV apps such as Netflix and YouTube, a 178 degree viewing angle and of course an impressive Ultra HDTV 4K display panel.

The set will be available at Walmart and Costco, although we are not certain if it will be available in all of their retail outlets.

Are you saving up for a 4K panel, or do you still think the technology is too expensive?

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

LG Google TV Models To Get Updated To Android 4.2.2

A lot of updates do not always meet their deadlines, and that’s quite fine. Maybe the more time required, the more fixes and features will be packed. The Android 4.2.2 Google TV update that LG promised back in May may be late, but it’s here, well at least for some models. This is big news for people who have invested in Google’s television offering, as it bumps the platform up from a rather old Android 3.2 Honeycomb base.

The bad news is that some things are lost in transition. While updated Google TVs will have better mobile app compatibility thanks to the Android NDK support, the Chrome browser has changed from the PC to the Android version, meaning there’s no Flash support. There’s no Crackle, no Hulu, and no watchESPN. But there’s a bit of good news through all this, and that is a new Vudu application.

All in all, the difference should not be all that stark. Menus may be reorganized, but don’t expect a radically different interface. The update has been spotted on some GA6400 series models, however it should roll out to more, including the G3 series, before the end of the month.

Thank you Android Police for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Android Police

Intel Forced To Scrap Face-Recognition Cameras In Web TV Kits

A report by the Wall Street Journal suggests that Intel is being forced to scrap its plans for facial recognition tracking cameras in its web TV set-top boxes amid public outrage towards privacy and surveillance issues.

Intel’s plans for its own web TV set-top boxes were to install a facial recognition camera to detect the age, gender and other details about a person which would then be used to customise advertising that is targeted towards that particular person thus allowing Intel to offer better advertising to partners.

The plan by Intel makes financial sense as it would give advertisers large incentives to move towards Intel Web TV boxes for advertising though privacy concerns and public outrage have now put an end to the plan by Intel. It is also reported that the feature does not work with low lightning, such as the evenings when people are more likely to be watching TV, and thus this added to the decision to drop the feature.

Intel’s Web TV set-top boxes are still yet to be released to the market but at least consumers can be assured that they will not feature tracking cameras when they are released. How Intel can still offer a more attractive package to advertisers than its competitors, without the use of such tracking, is anyone’s guess.

Image courtesy of Slashgear.com

Samsung Buy Set Top Box Company Boxee

South Korean electronics giant Samsung is reportedly buying out the Israeli firm “Boxee” who make media streaming devices according to the BBC. The deal is reportedly worth around $30 million. Samsung stated that the takeover allowed it to acquire “key talent and assets” which “will help us continue to improve the overall user experience across our connected devices”.

Boxee’s products let subscribers record TV shows onto cloud storage and then stream them to TVs, computers and smart devices from this cloud storage. Given that Samsung is struggling to shift a lot of its smart TVs this could be a wise move for them as Boxee has a well recognised and trusted reputation with its consumer base. Now Samsung doesn’t have to struggle to convince people to use its smart TV services over that of its competitors because it now owns one of its competitors.

Despite this Boxee did struggle to make money because smart TVs are in their infancy. The acquisition by Samsung will help the Boxee concept to stay alive until smart TVs pick up in popularity a bit more, which is expected to happen in 2017 when an estimated 221 million will ship according to Informa Telecoms and Media. Only 54 million were sold in 2012.

Image courtesy of Boxee