We had been tepid on the unique Defend TV when it was launched in 2015. Nvidia’s Android-based microconsole was extremely highly effective, and the primary 4K-capable media streamer we examined, however it additionally was nearly as costly as a devoted sport console. The present Defend TV prices simply as a lot and has the identical , however Nvidia has had two years to construct up its gaming options and actually separate it from the competitors. Even higher, it now has Google Assistant with help for hands-free voice instructions in the event you get the Defend Controller. It is an costly media streamer, however players will discover its options and processing energy very intriguing.
Storage and Design
The Defend TV is obtainable in two variations, each of which have 16GB of storage (the next capability Defend TV Professional with a 500GB arduous drive is not out there). The $179.99 mannequin features a easy distant management, whereas the $199.99 model consists of each the distant and Defend Controller gamepad, which is important for hands-free voice management with Google Assistant. The Defend Controller is $59.99 by itself, so we wholeheartedly advocate the $200 model of the Defend TV over the remote-only one.
Whereas the 11GB of house left after Android and the preinstalled Nvidia apps is tight, you’ll be able to add extra storage by way of the machine’s two USB ports. If you wish to play a variety of Android video games with the 16GB mannequin, that is important. We obtained a 2TB Seagate Sport Drive working with the Defend TV, and smaller (and cheaper) USB flash drives will work simply as effectively.
The present Defend TV shares the angular aesthetic of the unique, however in a barely smaller and flatter Zero.5-by-6.Zero-by-Three.7-inch (HWD) bundle. It is a not-quite-rectangular field with barely uneven traces; the entrance and proper panels are rectangles, the left and again panels are trapezoids, and the oblong high panel is roofed in triangles. The highest is generally matte black plastic with just a few angular textured traces, surrounding a big shiny black triangle that sits elevated to indicate the glowing inexperienced energy gentle alongside its edge. The again panel holds an HDMI port, two USB Three.Zero ports, an Ethernet port, and a connector for the included energy adapter.
Whereas it is designed for use laying flat on a desk, you’ll be able to stand the Defend TV vertically with an elective $20 vertical stand accent, identical to with the unique.
Nvidia drastically overhauled the appear and feel of the wi-fi gamepad from the primary Defend TV. The Defend Controller is far lighter at simply 9 ounces, with a Tron-like sample of triangles etched into its matte black plastic physique. The perimeters of the triangles aren’t sharp, and the controller feels snug and pretty easy within the hand.
Apart from the triangle-covered shell, the controller has all the common parts: two analog sticks (organized parallel to one another in a DualShock structure), a path pad, 4 face buttons (A/B/X/Y, organized in an Xbox structure), and two pairs of shoulder buttons. A silver panel in the midst of the gamepad holds the Nvidia brand on a button that prompts the Defend’s voice search and voice management options, out there due to the pinhole microphone simply above the button. Again, Play, and House buttons sit on the underside fringe of the gamepad, under the analog sticks. A Three.5mm headset jack sits on the underside of the controller, dealing with down towards the consumer. A micro USB port on the highest allows you to cost the built-in battery or use the controller wired.
The microphone on the controller is presumably a very powerful change. It is designed to choose up voices when sitting on a desk in entrance of you, enabling fully hands-free voice management with Google Assistant, like a Google House speaker. All different new options on the Defend TV have been added to the unique Defend TV with firmware and software program updates, however for hands-free voice management you will must buy the up to date Defend Controller for $60.
The unique Defend TV supplied the Defend Distant as a $50 accesory, however the brand new Defend TV consists of an up to date Distant proper within the field. Contemplating the system bears the identical worth because the earlier model, that is a reasonably important boon to its viability as a media streamer.
The 5.6-inch distant is barely bigger than the unique, however is in any other case equivalent in design. It encompasses a four-way path pad close to the highest, Again and House buttons under it, and a big Voice Search button under them. A pinhole microphone sits close to the highest, although in contrast to the gamepad’s mic it is not designed for hands-free use; it is advisable maintain it close to your mouth if you communicate.
The Defend TV runs almost inventory Android TV on Android 7.Zero Nougat. The a number of Defend apps from the earlier Defend TV have been built-in right into a single Nvidia Video games app that tracks your video games throughout all three of Nvidia’s Defend gaming classes (described under). Apart from the Nvidia app, the interface is organized in a normal Android TV structure, with apps and video games listed in their very own rows of huge tiles. All video games you play on the Defend TV will populate within the Video games row, together with in the event that they’re streamed domestically over GameStream or over the Web on GeForce Now, with the Nvidia Video games app at all times sitting on the left facet of the listing.
By way of , the present Defend TV is equivalent to the unique one, with the identical Nvidia Tegra X1 APU. Android TV prevents us from performing our customary Android benchmarks on the Defend TV as if it had been a smartphone or pill, however we ran implementations of 3DMark and GFXBench GL to pin down some numbers. The Defend TV scored Three,643 within the Sling Shot Excessive take a look at in 3DMark, outpacing each different cellular machine out there, together with the iPad Professional (Three,526). The app even explicitly referred to as the Defend TV “probably the most highly effective units out there” primarily based on the outcomes of the take a look at.
The Defend TV additionally blew all different Android units out of the water in GFX OpenGL, rendering 1,570 frames in probably the most intensive Automobile Chase benchmark. Nonetheless, the iPad Professional beat out the Defend TV in probably the most difficult Manhattan benchmark, rendering 2,075 frames to the Defend’s 1,574.
Android and Native Gaming
Nvidia constructed the Defend TV round three gaming pillars: Android video games with the Defend TV’s personal Tegra X1, native PC video games with GameStream, and streaming Web video games with GeForce Now.
For native Android video games, the Defend TV remains to be probably the most highly effective units on the market. We performed the Android model of Steel Gear Rising: Revengeance, and the motion was constantly easy. I might carry out parries that required exact timing, and gameplay appeared to remain near 30 frames per second beneath most circumstances. It is not as visually spectacular because the PC model of Revengeance, which has higher-resolution textures and might push a a lot increased variety of flying enemy chunks in Blade Mode, however it’s nonetheless a exceptional sport to see on Android.
Apart from native Android video games, you’ll be able to stream PC video games out of your laptop over your house community due to Nvidia Gamestream. You want a stable gaming PC with an Nvidia GeForce graphics card. I streamed Steel Gear Rising Revengeance and Mirror’s Edge to the Defend TV over our take a look at lab’s 5GHz Wi-Fi community with the Defend TV linked by way of Ethernet. Each video games had been quick and responsive, regardless of just a few efficiency hiccups on the PC’s finish. Seeing Revengeance streamed from a PC additionally confirmed that the Android model makes just a few graphical compromises.
Lastly, you’ll be able to play streaming video games over the Web from Nvidia’s personal servers with GeForce Now. It is a $7.99 subscription service much like PlayStation Now and GameFly Streaming, operating video games off-side on Nvidia’s and streaming the video and audio to your machine whereas receiving your instructions with little or no lag (relying in your Web connection). GeForce Now gives a library of over 100 video games, and newer titles like The Witcher Three may be bought piecemeal for retail costs.
Nvidia has upgraded its GeForce Now servers with the corporate’s Pascal structure, which ought to present a efficiency enhance on sport rendering. After all, no server-side improve can repair community bottlenecks, so you will must keep watch over your bandwidth. Nvidia additionally introduced a partnership with Ubisoft to include the corporate’s UPlay retailer into GeForce Now. UPlay customers who buy PC variations of Ubisoft video games can play them over GeForce Now with out having to purchase them individually, with cloud saves carrying over between platforms. You continue to must subscribe to GeForce Now to play these video games, even in the event you already personal them on PC.
I performed Shadow Warrior 2 over GeForce Now and it was a wonderful expertise. The sport felt responsive and I skilled not one of the jarring lag that early streaming sport providers had. The video high quality was pretty poor over Wi-Fi, even with the Defend TV just a few toes away from the router, however utilizing an Ethernet connection the sport regarded very closed to the way in which it will if I ran it domestically on a PC.
The Defend TV was the primary streaming media machine we examined able to displaying 4K content material, and at present helps excessive dynamic vary (HDR) video within the HDR10 format (however not Dolby Imaginative and prescient; if you need Dolby Imaginative and prescient you will want a Chromecast Extremely or an Apple TV 4K). The 4K media participant market has been rising quickly, with a number of decisions out there for beneath $100, however few are as highly effective or boast the identical options because the Defend TV.
The Defend TV is as succesful and full-featured as any Android TV machine, with loads of big-name streaming media apps together with Amazon, Crunchyroll, Hulu, Netflix, and Sling. It additionally offers entry to Google Play’s full library of music and video content material. The Defend TV helps Google Solid, so you’ll be able to stream video to it out of your cellular machine identical to a Google Chromecast Extremely.
In case you get a Defend TV, you merely will not want every other media streamer. After all, comparable 4K-capable media streamers, just like the Roku Streaming Stick+, price lower than half the worth; you are paying a premium for the in depth gaming capabilities greater than any media characteristic, together with the brand new advantage of hands-free voice controls with Google Assistant.
A latest firmware replace has enabled full use of the Google Assistant voice assistant on the Defend TV. As soon as the system and controller are each up to date, you’ll be able to simply arrange hands-free voice management by way of the gamepad’s microphone by choosing the microphone icon on the high of the house display and following the prompts.
As soon as Google Assistant is about up, you’ll be able to deal with the Defend TV identical to a Google House, with the additional advantage of on-screen info. In case you say “OK Google, what is the climate?” you will get each an audible climate report and a visible show of the present climate and forecast for the approaching days. In case you ask, “OK Google, how tall is Jeff Goldblum?” you will each hear the reply and see it in textual content (and in case you are questioning, he is six toes, 4 inches).
The Defend TV allows you to open apps with Google Assistant. Simply saying “OK Google, open Netflix” will load the streaming app, and “OK Google, open The Witness” will load the puzzle sport. You may even inform the Defend TV to regulate the quantity, however this solely impacts the machine’s outputting quantity ranges; it does not change the TV’s quantity setting.
Google Assistant additionally helps house automation, with an inventory of appropriate sensible house units comparable with Amazon’s Alexa. After linking a Philips Hue account to my Google Assistant account, I used to be in a position to make use of the Defend TV to manage linked Hue lights with my voice by saying “OK Google, flip off/activate Workplace.” It is a very helpful characteristic, particularly with the hands-free help supplied by the Defend Controller. Amazon Hearth TV and Apple TV units additionally help sensible house controls by way of the Alexa and Siri voice assistants, however they don’t seem to be hands-free; it is advisable press a button on a distant and communicate into it.
The Defend Controller picked up my voice surprisingly effectively in testing. Even with colleagues speaking close by, the Defend TV discerned my requests rapidly and supplied correct responses. It turned confused when those self same colleagues obtained nearer to the system as I used to be testing, choosing up the phrases of an ongoing dialog happening the identical distance from the controller as I used to be. Once I wasn’t making an attempt to speak in opposition to individuals who had been proper subsequent to the system, nonetheless, the hands-free voice instructions labored very effectively.
If you don’t need the Defend Controller to always take heed to you for a wake-up command, or in the event you get the remote-only model of the Defend TV, you’ll be able to nonetheless use Google Assistant. It simply will not be hands-free, and requires you to carry down the microphone button on the distant and communicate into it. And, in fact, you’ll be able to disable hands-free voice assistant options manually and nonetheless use the Defend Controller.
We first regarded on the Defend TV with uncertainty, however the microconsole has actually grown on us since its launch, and the addition of Google Assistant makes it much more compelling. Whereas its is about two years outdated now, it is nonetheless probably the most highly effective Android units out there when it comes to gaming. These options are largely restricted to the Android sport library, however GeForce Now and GameStream provide surprisingly practical, compelling sport streaming on a tool that prices lower than a Nintendo Change. The Defend TV is not a media streamer for customers who merely need to watch movies on-line, however for players searching for 4K streaming options or a microconsole for a second TV, or who need to add hands-free Google Assistant options to their house theater, it is fairly a powerful machine.