The suggestions for this have been slowly building over the last few weeks and a new report from XDA-Developers looks to bring those pieces of information together in a more coherent way to paint the picture that there are two different devices coming.
First off, the newest piece of the puzzle the report focuses on is the "sif" codename with the suggesting this is for the "real" new Android TV device, in contrast to the other new device which is likely to be more of a refresh of the existing 2017 model.
The reason sif matters in this context is the number of references that now seem to have been found at the code level within SHIELD Software Experience Upgrade 8.0 – the latest software upgrade the SHIELD received bringing with it Android 9 Pie.
The problem here is that "sif" is not a new name in itself. Well, the references to it are not new as they have popped up multiple times before in various forums and dating back to last year. There's even been suggestions that sif is actually one of NVIDIA's Big Format Gaming Displays.
That's not to say that sif isn't a new SHIELD device, but more so that the evidence doesn't automatically lend itself to sif being a new device… in addition to another new device. If we were to go off NVIDIA codenames alone, there's far more than two devices in the works.
The other element that has caught some media attention lately is FCC filings. Now, a new device with model number P3430 recently passed through the FCC. This evidently does lend strong backing to the suggestion a new SHIELD device is en route.
In addition, the 2017 SHIELD's FCC filing has also recently been updated with a Class II permissive change request.
The suggestion again is that the 2017 model is getting a refresh (likely with a tweaked SoC) while P3430 is a completely new device. This may be the case, but it also might not be as clear-cut as it seems.
There are many reasons as to why there's been activity on a new and existing FCC filing. Yes, one reason might be a refurbished product launching alongside a new product, but that's only one possibility. It could just as easily be a case of the refresh (or sif for that matter) is designed as a developer-only device and won't be made commercially available.
This wouldn't be the first time that an Android TV device has shown up at the FCC fooling people into thinking a new product was about to be announced only for a developer-only device to be released. Isn't that right, Google?
In fact, if you had to place a bet you would probably be wiser to bet on the refresh being developer-focused as the tweaked SoC is unlikely to be much of an upgrade on its own. With all indications pointing to the new refreshed SHIELD being the same as not only the one released two years ago, but also the one that's now four-years old, it remains to be seen where the value will be for new buyers.
This is even more true if you subscribe to the idea that NVIDIA is actually releasing two different products and the other one has a totally new design and appeal and especially considering the newer and sexier one is expected to be powered by the same tweaked SoC – the whole point of the "refreshed" SHIELD's refreshing in the first place. It just doesn't make a lot of sense from NVIDIA's or a buyer's perspective.
Adding to the speculation/confusion, there's been other speculation recently that the P3430 is going to be a "stick" device. This in itself further adds to a two-device marketing approach (stick and box) and one that's proven fairly successful for a number of companies operating in this space, including Amazon and Roku.
The reason for these stick suggestions is again the FCC filing label image which appears to show a device that's more stick-like than box-like.
Again, that may be the case, but it may not. The reason the stick shape has gained attention is that it appears different to the image used in the 2017 SHIELD's filing.
However, those filings also suggest that the perspectives are different. For example, the 2017 SHIELD FCC filing states the image shows "the rear (back) side of the device" while the P3430 listing states the image is of the "inner side of the terminal of the device."
Once again, this still doesn't mean it is not a stick, but it also doesn't automatically mean that it is – and that's sort of the overriding message here. NVIDIA might release a stick device, it also might release more than one SHIELD device in the coming months, but those are simply mights at the moment as none of the evidence that has come through clearly points to two different, consumer available devices.
The last point might be telling it itself as the tech world is not shy when it comes to leaks and usually we don't have to wait too long to have a firm picture of an upcoming device. It is usually even harder for companies to keep things secret when there are multiple devices in question and yet, there are so many questions still surrounding a new SHIELD device, let alone two.
Although one seems certain to arrive soon, two feels far from certain based on the current speculation and available information.