Original NVIDIA SHIELD gets its game-changing update next week

It must have been an emotional roller coaster for owners of the original NVIDIA SHIELD. At first, it seemed that NVIDIA was rolling out the big Android 7.0 update to the first gen SHIELD, including all the sweat features in the new SHIELD. But just as suddenly, it yanked away that update. The good news is that the update will still come. The bad news, owners will have to wait a bit later, hopefully until next week at the earliest.

NVIDIA's SHIELD strategy is both mind-boggling and yet, at the same time, very much welcome. When this software update hits both old and new streaming devices, they will, in practice, be equal in features. Some might actually say the first gen SHIELD is better off than its smaller successor because it still has a microSD card. Whichever the case, no one will have to be enraged or green with envy over the new SHIELD.

The update, which has been relocated to the new NVIDIA SHIELD's support page, carries not only Android 7.0 Nougat but a whole host of features aimed at making the SHIELD the entertainment and gaming device for your living room. That includes the addition of Amazon Video and its 4K HDR offering, the empowerment of GameStream with, you guessed it, 4K HDR content streaming, and the availability of a GeForce GTX 1080 option for GeForce NOW. Conspicuously missing is Google Home integration, which isn't scheduled to arrive at a much later, still undisclosed date.

This software update, under the heading of "SHIELD EXPERIENCE 5.0", is rolling out to the new SHIELD, if it still doesn't have it out of the box. NVIDIA promised that the old SHIELD will also get the update, eventually. The unofficial date is sometime next week, which could be a welcome source of distraction from the flood of Nintendo Switch news.

Given the older SHIELD will get all the software features, one has to ask whether it's still necessary to get the new one. If you don't have any SHIED at all, the answer is obvious. But if you have a perfectly functional NVIDIA SHIELD, you really only need to buy the new SHIELD Controller to take advantage of Google Assistant, but if and only if you intend to use that feature when it arrives.