NVIDIA recently made available its 2017 version of the Android TV-running NVIDIA SHIELD console. However, even more recently, the company made available a "Pro" version. Which means if you are in the market for a new gaming/TV console then you do have a choice to make – do you go Pro or not?
This was largely the same decision for those considering picking up the 2015 version of the NVIDIA SHIELD, as once again there was a Pro version on offer as well as the standard version. However, back then the decision was a little more simpler as the main difference in 2015, was storage. If you were OK with 16GB storage and wanted to cut down on the price, then the NVIDIA SHIELD was the way to go. If you wanted an increased level of internal storage then the SHIELD Pro was the best option as this one came with a whopping 500GB storage limit. At the time, both versions came running on Android 5.0 (Lollipop) which meant that although they came equipped with microSD card slots, that storage was not usable as core storage for the device. That did change however, when NVIDIA began rolling out the Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) update. From then on, the benefits of the storage on offer with the Pro model were less apparent.
Interestingly though, the difference between the normal and Pro versions this year, are far more fundamental. Which does mean that storage is not the only thing you might want to consider. Due to the ability to use USB storage as adoptable storage with the SHIELD, storage is no longer something you need to be too concerned with – as it is no longer the main difference between the two models.
One of the big selling points on offer with the new SHIELD is that it is smaller than the old SHIELD. According to NVIDIA, about 40-percent smaller. That is, smaller while still coming equipped with all the same specs and features (except the microSD card slot). So for those looking for a smaller and neater form factor, the standard SHIELD 2017 is the one to go for. But, the SHIELD Pro does not follow in the same footsteps. In fact, the SHIELD Pro has seen zero size reduction from the previous model. So size should be one of those aspects that you take into consideration. If you want a smaller device, than the SHIELD is the one to go for, if you want a bigger console which takes greater pride of place in your home setup, then the SHIELD Pro is likely to be the better option.
For reference, the new SHIELD 2017 measures 3.858-inches in height, 6.26-inches in width and 1.02-inches in depth. In contrast the SHIELD Pro measures 5.1-inches in height, 8.3-inches in width and 1.0-inch in depth. Likewise, while the SHIELD 2017 weighs in at a trim 8.8 oz, the SHIELD Pro weighs in at a heavyweight 23 oz.
Interestingly, what you might want to focus your decision on is the remote control. When the 2015 version of both models were released, the remote control was not part of the package. While both versions of the 2017 SHIELD do come with the SHIELD Remote, they do not come with the same remote. The standard SHIELD comes equipped with the 'new remote' which among other things, packs in an IR blaster to allow for control of your TV's power and volume. This is something that is missing from the SHIELD Pro remote.
Although what might be more beneficial to some, is that the SHIELD Pro Remote does not require any batteries to be replaced. This is in fact, the same remote as you will get with the 2015 SHIELD and that means it comes with a microUSB port and can be charged. As such, you can daily (or when needed) recharge the SHIELD Remote and that is it. In contrast, the standard SHIELD Remote does require two batteries to be replaced. Although, NVIDIA does state that they should be good for about a year. Another benefit that the SHIELD Pro Remote has over the new SHIELD Remote is that the Pro version also comes equipped with a 3.5mm headphone port so you can connect your headphones for a more personalized experience. So depending on where your preference lies, the SHIELD Remote could be one of the main factors to consider when choosing which variant to pick up.
In either case, both variants of the 2017 SHIELD do come with the same SHIELD Controller. This is the newly redesigned SHIELD Controller which also offers an IR blaster, a mic for voice search, a 3.5mm jack port and a rechargeable (via microUSB) battery.
While it has already been mentioned that storage is less of an issue due to the ability to make use of adoptable storage, the storage specs do also represent a difference between the two models. So to quickly sum up. The new standard SHIELD comes with 16GB internal storage which can be expanded through the use of adoptable storage and using a USB 3.0 flash drive. In addition to the greater 500GB internal storage level that is on offer with the SHIELD Pro, this variant is also able to make use of adoptable storage via the USB ports. However, the SHIELD Pro ALSO comes equipped with a microSD card slot. So if you prefer to use microSD over USB, then the SHIELD Pro might be more to your liking.
Last but not least, is the price. Of the new models, the standard SHIELD is the more affordable option as it is available to buy for only $199.99. In contrast, the SHIELD Pro is priced at $299.99. While you are gaining a significant increase in internal storage capacity, that is only one of the factors that you might want to consider. In addition to the storage difference, there is also now a size differences, a weight difference and a different remote control, which offers different benefits and disadvantages.