NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021) – which has better picture quality?

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021)
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Which has better picture quality and gaming support – NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021)? If having Android TV is the name of the game, there simply is no better way to get it than with the NVIDIA Shield TV 4K. You’ll get expandable storage via the microSD card slot, an arguably more ergonomic remote, along with having built-in Google Assistant to control your smart home. Apple content isn’t available on Android TV, and that might be an issue if you or others in your house are keen to check out the Apple TV+ subscription service. Get details in NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021) comparison chart.

Pros & Cons – NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021)

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro

Pros

  • Better for gamers
  • Can expand storage with external options
  • Works best with Google’s ecosystem
  • Could be used as Plex Server

Cons

  • No support for 4K/120Hz
  • Doesn’t include HDMI cable

Apple TV 4K (2021)

Pros

  • HDMI 2.1 for future 4K/120Hz support
  • Upgraded remote is easier to use than its predecessor
  • Gigabit Ethernet jack
  • Works best with Apple’s ecosystem

Cons

  • Limited gaming options available
  • Storage is not expandable

Specs – NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021)

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro

  • NVIDIA® Tegra® X1+ processor with a 256-core GPU and 3 GB RAM.
  • Wi-Fi 5 – 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi.
  • Captive Portal support.
  • HDMI 2.0b with HDCP 2.2 and CEC support.
  • Bluetooth 5.0 + LE.
  • OS uses Android 9.0 (Pie) powered by Android TV with Chromecast 4K built-in.
  • It has storage up to 16 GB.
  • It’s 4K HDR Ready.
  • Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10 support.
  • Google Assistant as well as Alexa (optional) as voice assistants.
  • Up to 1080p playback at 60 FPS (H.263, MJPEG, MPEG4, WMV9/VC1).
  • Format/Container support: Xvid/ DivX/ASF/AVI/MKV/MOV/M2TS/MPEG-TS/MP4/WEB-M.
  • Dolby Audio (Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos) & DTS-X surround sound support (pass-through) over HDMI.
  • AI-enhanced upscaling for 720p/1080p to 4K up to 30 FPS.
  • 4K HDR playback at 60 FPS (H.265/HEVC).
  • 4K playback at 60 FPS (VP8, VP9, H.264, MPEG1/2).
  • Has many types of audio support: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3, WAVE, AMR, OGG Vorbis, FLAC, PCM, WMA, WMA-Pro, WMA-Lossless, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD (pass-through), DTS-X (pass-through), and DTS-HD (pass-through).
  • High-resolution audio playback up to 24-bit/192 kHz over HDMI and USB.
  • High-resolution audio up-sample to 24-bit/192 kHz over USB.

Apple TV 4K (2021)

  • It uses a A12 Bionic chip over the A10X Fusion chip.
  • It now uses Wi-Fi 6 – 802.11ax over Wi-Fi 5 – 802.11ac.
  • Thread is added.
  • It now has HDMI 2.1 support over HDMI 2.0, giving even more than double the bandwidth from 18 Gbps to 48 Gbps. As a result, it allows for 4K support at 120 Hz, 8K at 60 Hz or 10K compressed at 60 Hz, though Apple could easily access the latter through software updates to unlock improved performance.
  • And of course, the Apple TV remote is new & improved!
  • It now has high frame rate Dolby Vision/HDR support.

Price

The final difference when comparing the Shield TV Pro to the Apple TV 4K is the price. The Shield TV Pro is priced at $199, while the TV 4K starts at $179 for the 32GB model and goes up to $199 while doubling the storage to 64GB. 

Compare NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021)

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro Apple TV 4K (2021)
ProcessorTegra X1+Apple A12 Bionic
Operating SystemAndroid TVtvOS
Storage16GB32GB / 64GB
External StorageYesNo
4K resolutionYesYes
HDR10YesYes
Dolby AtmosYesYes
Dolby VisionYesYes
Voice ControlGoogle Assistant / Amazon AlexaSiri
AI UpscalingYesNo
Price$200$179 / $199

What are differences – NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021)?

Design

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is a little more complex in design, but it still looks great. The device is rectangular instead of square, and sits in at 6.26 inches wide, so it’s quite a bit larger than the Apple TV 4K. On the top, you’ll find angled edges and green-lit highlights, which is a nice touch

Apple TV 4K (2021)

The device is a small, square-shaped box with a black finish that will look right at home on any TV stand or entertainment center. On the back, you’ll get a power connection, HDMI port, and Ethernet port.

Ports

On the back of the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro device, you’ll find an HDMI port and an Ethernet port. Unlike the Apple TV 4K, the Shield TV Pro also includes a pair of USB ports, which can be used to expand upon the device’s storage and play external media. It makes the device a little more versatile, though not everyone will need that extra functionality.

Upscaling – NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021) picture quality

There is one area where NVIDIA gains the upper-hand and that’s with its AI Upscaling functionality. Apple’s TV 4K (2021) does feature upscaling support for 1080p content, but NVIDIA uses a propriertary method that has turned out to be quite impressive.

Storage

Apple gains the edge when you look at onboard storage, as you can opt for either 32GB or 64GB. But that’s it. As soon as the storage is filled up with games, apps, movies, or other content, you’ll be relegated to deleting some things. Meanwhile, the Shield TV Pro sports just 16GB of onboard storage, but it can be expanded thanks to the dual USB 3.0 ports on the side. 

Chip

From a specification standpoint, it’s a mixed bag here. The Shield TV Pro is using the latest NVIDIA Tegra X1+, but the Apple TV 4K (2021) does not use the latest Apple chipset. Instead, Apple opted for the A12 Bionic, which launched back in 2018 alongside the iPhone XS. 

Audio

On the audio side, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro supports 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound as well as Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound. High-resolution audio is also supported, with some formats supported natively and others supported via passthrough. If you’re a Plex user, you’ll appreciate that the Shield’s Plex client is one of the few that supports Dolby TrueHD with Atmos and is powerful enough to play 4K HDR movies without server-based transcoding.

Speaking of Dolby Atmos, now that Apple has added thousands of Dolby Atmos Music tracks to Apple Music, an Apple TV 4K connected to a Dolby Atmos-capable soundbar or A/V receiver is a fantastic way to experience this immersive music format. When tvOS 15 launches in the fall of 2021, you’ll be able to enjoy head-tracking-based spatial audio when using Apple AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.

Remote

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro’s remote, on the other hand, is a bit larger and features a unique triangular prism shape, motion-activated backlit buttons for basic controls, a single shortcut for Netflix, and a microphone for voice control.  

The Apple TV 4K’s remote complements the minimalist look of the box itself. It has a large touch-sensitive surface at the top for basic control, instead of directional buttons like many other remotes. Apart from that, you’ll get buttons for voice control and media playback

Content search

On the Nvidia Shield TV Pro, there’s some pretty great Google integration too. A lot of this integration has to do with the fact that the device has Google Assistant built in — and Google Assistant is largely considered to be the best digital assistant out there. On the Shield TV, you’ll also be able to access content that you have purchased on Google Play.

For starters, the Apple TV 4K allows you to access content from your iTunes library, Apple Music, the new Apple TV+ streaming service, and more. Not only that, but there are smaller touches too. For example, when you need to type on the Apple TV to search or to enter a password, a box will show up on your iPhone — allowing you to quickly and easily type without having to scroll through a keyboard on your TV. The device also has Siri built into it — which is handy for those that use Siri for controlling smart home devices and searching the web.

What are the Similarities – NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021)?

HDR

Both the Shield TV Pro and Apple TV 4K (2021) are compatible with all of the usual content compatibility suspects you look for. This includes the HDR10, the most common form of High Dynamic Range found in many streaming devices and television. Dolby Vision support is also onboard both of these streaming devices, to go which pairs quite nicely with Dolby Atmos support. Basically, you can’t go wrong either way when trying to get the best picture or sound quality with either of these options.

Gaming

While the TV 4K may have an upper-hand thanks to Apple Arcade, the Shield TV Pro fights back with cloud-gaming and NVIDIA GameStream. As you might expect, you can use NVIDIA GeForce Now with the Shield TV Pro, streaming all of your favorite AAA games in your Steam library right to the big screen. Meanwhile GameStream provides 4K HDR gaming at 60 FPS right from your desktop computer. The only real requirement is that you must be using an NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics card in order to take advantage.

Setup

For both, you’ll start by plugging an HDMI cable into the device and then into your TV, after which you’ll connect the device to a power outlet. Turn your TV on and make sure it’s set to the right input, and then follow the on-screen instructions. For the Apple TV 4K, that will include logging in to your Apple account, while on the Shield TV, you’ll instead log in to your Google account.

Alternate of NVIDIA Shield TV Pro vs Apple TV 4K (2021)

Amazon Fire TV Cube

In 2019, Amazon released a refreshed model that added HDR10+ and — more importantly — Dolby Vision, the lack of which was a big knock on the original. With that, the Amazon Fire TV Cube is better than ever. There are a lot of reasons to love the Fire TV Cube, but it’s the all-in-one control afforded by HDMI CEC support, the IR blaster, and Alexa voice commands that makes it the ultimate home theater companion for those who never want to reach for their remote again.

The Cube isn’t just an excellent streaming device — it can control your entire entertainment system better than your remotes can.

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Those looking for a streamlined, Alexa-driven home entertainment experience.

When the Fire TV Cube debuted, it was (and still is) the only streaming media device to feature a built-in smart speaker. That alone is a pretty good reason to consider it — totally hands-free voice commands are very, ahem, handy. But the Cube is way more than Alexa trapped inside a streaming box. It’s loaded with powerful tech and features that will let you control just about everything in your entertainment center with minimal need for a remote.

Thanks to ports supporting HDMI CEC and HDMI ARC alongside included IR blasters, you’ll be able to use voice commands to turn on your TV, swap between apps, and even switch inputs over to other connected devices like gaming consolesA/V receivers, and Blu-ray players. You can direct Alexa to do things like “play Snowpiercer,” and the Cube will switch on the TV and sound system and immediately start up the show on Netflix — all without a remote. It’s pretty much the home theater equivalent of talking to the computer on the Enterprise.

The Cube’s nature as a home theater control hub may be its biggest selling point — especially now that Logitech has exited the smart remote business —  but it is also just an excellent streamer. It’s capable of 4K and HDR playback, it has built-in support for Dolby Atmos, and comes with an Ethernet adapter for the most reliable data connection possible — something lacking in other Fire TV devices.

While Alexa requires specific voice commands out of the box, the A.I. assistant will learn to recognize your input style. Amazon also promises to continually update Alexa’s voice recognition abilities and tune the assistant to meet the needs of users, meaning simple, even vague speech may be recognized as more people use it.

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