The Nvidia Shield TV is already one of the most powerful set-top boxes available on the market, but that hasn’t stopped the company from taking it back to the drawing board and adding even more oomph and some intelligent AI.

Like the original model, the new Nvidia Shield TV comes with Google’s Android TV operating system. That interface is in turn powered by Nvidia’s custom-designed Tegra X1, which debuted on the Nvidia Shield TV back in 2015. That chipset has been slightly modified this time around, however, and Nvidia now says that users should experience three times better performance than last year’s model.

In addition to better performance, the new Nvidia Shield TV has been specifically designed to support 4K HDR content – and rather uniquely for an Android TV device it has access to all the major 4K content sources, including Amazon Video.

“Nvidia’s rich heritage in visual computing and deep learning has enabled us to create this revolutionary device,” says Jen-Hsun Huang, founder and chief executive officer of Nvidia, who revealed Shield during his opening keynote address at CES.

“Shield TV is the world’s most advanced streamer. Its brilliant 4K HDR quality, hallmark Nvidia gaming performance and broad access to media content will bring families hours of joy. And with Shield’s new AI home capability, we can control and interact with content through the magic of artificial intelligence from anywhere in the house.”

As this is still an Nvidia Shield TV it’s not just about watching content on Netflix or Amazon Video. This is still a full fledged games console capable of playing a whole raft of AAA titles, including Watch Dogs 2, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Tomb Raider. Nvidia even confirmed that games from Ubisoft will simultaneously release on Nvidia Shield TV and PC.

None of those capabilities are especially new however. What is new is the Shield TV’s place at the centre of the smart home, thanks to the inclusion of Google Assistant.

Google has already confirmed that its Assistant will be coming to most Android TV devices already, but the Nvidia Shield TV will be the first to boast hands-free operation. That means it will work like the Google Home – always listening for a wake word. If smart home control is the aim of the game, then the Nvidia Shield TV definitely bests the Amazon Fire TV – as a button push is required to communicate with Alexa on that system.

In addition to Google Assistant support, the new Nvidia Shield TV can also double as a SmartThings hub for communicating with a range of smart home devices.

The Nvidia Shield TV is already available for pre-order in the UK, where it will sell for £189.99 for the 16GB model and £279.99 for the 500GB Pro model. Both models will get a controller and remote as standard, while the remote on the Pro will have a headphone jack. Shipments should begin later this month.

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