Which Android TV streaming box is best for cord cutters?

The NVIDIA Shield TV has been the best streaming solution for Android users since 2015, but Amazon is set to take over that top spot in 2018 with the Amazon Fire TV Cube.

Amazon’s latest living room entertainment solution sure looks compelling, in spite of its boxy design and slightly underpowered specs compared to the Shield TV. Both are better at doing different things, so deciding which to get will come down to your entertainment preferences.

Design comparison

The Shield TV and Fire TV Cube are on polar opposites of the design spectrum — NVIDIA opted for a low-profile design with sleek edges while Amazon basically combined the Fire TV 4K dongle with an Echo speaker to create the Cube.

Since the Cube is designed to function as another Echo speaker in your house, it can essentially replace any Echo speakers you may currently have set up in your living room. As such, this is a device that needs to be set up a few feet away from your home entertainment speakers in and out in the open so that Alexa has no issues hearing your voice

The Shield TV, on the other hand, is slim enough to slide into your entertainment center. It, too, has smart assistant functions (Google Assistant), but the functionality is entirely built into the remotes/controllers and there’s no built-in speaker on the console itself, so you have the option of proudly displaying your Shield TV or stashing it below your TV somewhere. The Shield TV also supports Tablo Tuner TV antenna adapter, which will allow you to pull in local over-the-air TV channels, which is worth considering if you’re a true cord cutter.

Each has a killer feature

While NVIDIA and Amazon are competing in the same space as an all-in-one solution for streaming content, they both offer something unique that caters to a more niche audience.

Amazon has done a great job integrating all of its products under Alexa.

The Fire TV Cube’s killer feature is that it’s an Amazon Alexa product that will seamlessly connect to other Echo speakers and let you control everything on your TV, along with your smart home products, all with just your voice. The greatest strength of Amazon’s hardware has been how easy it is to set up and use its products, and how well each new product they release integrates with existing Amazon products in your house — whether you’ve got an Echo speaker, Echo Show, or Amazon Cloud Cam.

This makes the Fire TV Cube a really compelling option if you’re already set up Alexa as your primary smart home assistant — and it’s also priced at just $ 119, which is $ 20 cheaper than the Echo Plus speaker.

the NVIDIA Shield TV is the streaming box for gamers.

The NVIDIA Shield TV also has some smart assistant functionality baked right into the software and hardware, with built-in microphones on the remotes and controllers designed to control a visual Google Assistant on your TV — but it still feels too separate from the other Google Assistant products in your house. You can’t, for example, use your Google Home speaker or Google Assistant on your phone to cast something to your Shield TV, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Instead, NVIDIA has gone after the gaming market by making the Shield TV compatible with a bunch of great games from the Google Play Store along with GameStream which lets you stream PC games to your living room TV. Of course, you’ll need the Shield Controller for that, which is included.

Specs comparison

Category Amazon Fire Cube TV NVIDIA Shield TV
Video output 4K Ultra HD, HDR-10 4K, HDR, 60fps
Operating System Fire OS 6 (Android 7.1) Android 7.1.1
Processor Amlogic S905Z NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor
GPU Mali-450 MP3 256-core Maxwell GPU
Storage 16GB 16GB
RAM 2GB 3GB
Bluetooth BT 4.2 Bluetooth 4.1/BLE
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO
Ethernet Adapter included Built-in port
Dolby Atmos Yes Yes
CEC Control Yes Yes
Built-in AI assistant Alexa Google Assistant
Internal Speaker Yes No
Dimensions 86.36 x 86.36 x 76.2 mm
465g
159 x 98 x 25 mm
250 g
See at Amazon $ 119 $ 179

Which one should you get?

Given that the NVIDIA Shield TV is both an older device and more expensive than the Fire TV Cube, it’s hard to recommend it over Amazon’s latest smart home tech — only If gaming is an important factor for you, then you will get the most out of the Shield TV.

However, if you’re already using Amazon Alexa throughout your house and want to extend its functionality to control your home entertainment with your voice, the Fire TV Cube is a great option that will serve you well.

See at Amazon

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