CES 2017 has now come and gone and while there was not exactly a lot in the way of Android TV news coming through, there was one specific announcement which not only caught the attention of Android TV-focused consumers, but the tech industry as a whole. This was of course, the introduction of the next-generation SHIELD Android TV console, the New SHIELD.
On first impressions, many would be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed between the old and new versions. After all, they do look largely identical. But there are some notable differences. For instance, while the new one does pack in exactly what you get with the old one, it does so in a much smaller form factor. So you are getting everything that is good about the old SHIELD wrapped up in a more compact and space-saving size. Likewise, the SHIELD Controller has undergone a makeover. One which is seemingly designed with the gamer in mind, so you should expect a controller which offers a much better grip than before. Another big change is that while the price of the two units (16GB and 500GB) have remained the same, there is an addition which makes the new version significantly better value. The SHIELD Remote is now included in the box. With the old SHIELD, you were paying for this as a separate accessory which did mean that some users might have only had access to the SHIELD Controller. Now you can pick up the new SHIELD in its smaller form, with redesigned SHIELD Controller, and with the SHIELD Remote for the same price you would have paid for the old SHIELD(s). Namely, $199.99 for the 16GB model and $299.99 for the 500GB model. If you would like to be one of the first to own either of the two new SHIELD models, then it is probably worth noting that they are both already available to pre-order.
Of course, much of the real magic is going to happen at the user interface level. First and foremost, the new version of the SHIELD comes running on Android 7.0 (Nougat) out of the box. While the old SHIELD is almost guaranteed to be receiving the Nougat update, it has yet to receive it. So you can be sure that you are running the very latest version of Android TV on the new SHIELD from day one. Likewise, the new SHIELD will gain access to the Google Assistant. Again, this is something that will make its way to the old SHIELD (as well as other Nougat-running Android TV devices), but the difference is that the new SHIELD comes with a hands-free level of usage. Which means that you will be able to make use of the Google Assistant by voice alone. Something that will not be available on most of the other Android TV devices, including the older SHIELD. For those devices, you will need to activate the Google Assistant first, before it starts to 'listen'.
Moving past the SHIELD, and while this was largely the sum of the Android TV announcements that came out of CES 2017, it was not the only TV-related announcement to come through. In fact, TV played a big role in this year’s CES event and for those looking for a new smart TV in the coming months, there will be plenty of choices to pick from. TCL are certainly aiming to be one you will consider as they announced that no less than 25 new Roku OS-powered TVs would be hitting the market in 2017. These will come in varying sizes and will form three specific ranges, the TCL C-Series, P-Series and S-Series. So if Roku OS is your TV OS of choice, then you will have a number of options and price-points to consider as the months roll on.
Then there was Xiaomi who announced the launch of their Mi TV 4, which is not only super-thin, but also comes with some intelligence built-in. This TV is based upon Android and looks to learn from your habits so that it can provide a greater ability to recommend content that you might actually be interested in. In addition to its intelligence, this is also a TV set which comes with all the various supports that you might expect, including support for 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos, and more. While also making use of a modular design where parts can more easily be removed, replaced and/or repaired as and when needed. So this is looking like a really good option. Although, the downside is that it is not going to be available everywhere and likely won’t be available to consumers in the US. Likewise, there are no firm details on the price as of yet, with Xiaomi simply confirming at the event that the most premium version will not be priced any higher than $2000.
However, if you are interested in the best viewing experience possible then you might want to check out what Samsung has to offer with their new QLED TVs or LG with their new Super UHD TVs which are apparently extremely rich in color due to LG's use of Nano Cell technology. In fact, it seems a debate has already started raging as to whether LG’s or Samsung’s approach to 2017 TVs is better. A debate which will no doubt continue as the year goes on. You can see both of the South Korean offerings below and for reference, Samsung is on the left and LG is on the right.