The last week has been a fairly interesting one for Android TV device owners. In fact, for anyone interested in 4K content, as Google after much speculation, finally announced that 4K quality content is now available to buy and rent from Google Play Movies & TV. As part of that announcement, Google confirmed that owners of the Chromecast Ultra, the Xiaomi Mi Box and Sony Bravia Android TV devices, can now take advantage of the 4K Google Play Movies & TV Support.
Interestingly though, one of the most popular 4K boxes on the market, the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, was left off of that list. Due to this, we took a more in-depth look at the situation following confirmation from Google that the reason the NVIDIA SHIELD was not included as a ‘supported device’ was due to the SHIELD lacking VP9 support. As we pointed out in the previous coverage, the NVIDIA SHIELD does indeed support VP9. However, it seems it is not to the level that Google requires for the 4K video support from Google Play Movies & TV.
Although, that is going to change. NVIDIA has now confirmed to us that they are working to bring the VP9 level to an encrypted VP9. At which point the SHIELD will be able to take advantage of the 4K content now available through Google Play Movies & TV. At the moment, NVIDIA has not provided any details on when this will be happen, but have confirmed that they are working on it and it will happen in due course. As part of their response, NVIDIA did reiterate that the SHIELD does indeed support VP9 – and one which is inline with YouTube and other apps that require VP9 support for 4K playback. However, it seems it is the encrypted version of VP9 that has proved to be an issue here and the difference between the VP9 support offered by the NVIDIA SHIELD and that offered by the Xiaomi Mi Box and specifically, in relation to Google Play Movies & TV. It is still unclear as to why Google requires one standard of VP9 for YouTube 4K and another for Google Play Movies & TV 4K content, but as of now, this is the situation as it is understood. So in short, if you do own the NVIDIA SHIELD and was hoping to take advantage of the newly-added 4K content from Google, it seems you will be able to soon, and presumably following a future update.