The Apple TV 4K and the Nvidia Shield TV Pro are both great high-end streaming boxes — but the Apple TV 4K offers a better value

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Alyssa Powell/Business Insider
  • The Apple TV 4K and the Nvidia Shield TV Pro are largely considered to be two of the best standalone streaming devices out there.
  • Both players include support for 4K HDR video with Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos audio, and a large selection of apps.
  • The Apple TV 4K offers the best balance between high-end features and value, and it’s also the best choice if you already own other Apple devices and want to watch Apple TV+.
  • If you’re a dedicated Android user, however, and don’t mind paying a bit more for advanced gaming and upscaling features, then the more expensive Nvidia Shield TV Pro is probably a better fit.

The Apple TV 4K is considered by many to be the gold standard in high-end streaming devices, but not everyone is tied into the Apple ecosystem. For Android users, there’s another truly awesome option – the Nvidia Shield TV Pro. Both offer powerful performance, a stylish design, and more.

But which of the two streaming devices is truly better than the other? Should you stick with the Apple TV 4K, or is the Nvidia Shield TV Pro better for your needs? We put the two devices head to head to find out.

Apple TV 4K vs Nvidia Shield TV Pro: which streaming player is better?

The Apple TV 4K features a Siri remote.

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The Apple TV 4K features a Siri remote.
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Best Buy

The Apple TV 4K and Nvidia Shield TV Pro are both excellent choices for buyers who don’t mind paying a little extra for a premium streaming box with advanced features. They both include 4K HDR video support with Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos audio capabilities, and access to plenty of apps. That said, there are some important differences between the two.

For starters, the more affordable Apple TV 4K is made to integrate well with other Apple products. It uses a minimalist design, includes 32GB of storage (a 64GB model is also available), and comes with a Siri voice remote. Access to the Apple TV+ streaming service and support for the new Apple Arcade gaming service are featured as well. If you’re already invested in Apple’s ecosystem, this is the best streaming box you can buy. It also provides a better overall balance between high-end performance and value compared to the Shield TV Pro.

Meanwhile, the more expensive Nvidia Shield TV Pro uses the Android TV platform and features integrated Google Assistant functionality. 16GB of storage is included as well and, unlike the Apple TV 4K, the Shield TV Pro features two USB ports. It also offers access to high-end gaming through the Nvidia GeForce Now service, and uses its powerful Tegra X1+ processor to enable advanced 4K upscaling. This makes it a better fit for buyers who own other Google devices or those who crave the very best performance.

Specs

Apple TV vs Nvidia Shield TV Specs Chart

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Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

Design

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro includes a voice remote with motion-activated backlit buttons.

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The Nvidia Shield TV Pro includes a voice remote with motion-activated backlit buttons.
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Amazon

Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice about these two devices is their design – and they’re both pretty good-looking streaming boxes. Apple is known for its minimalistic visual style, and that extends to the Apple TV 4K. The device is a small, square-shaped box with a black finish that will look right at home on any TV stand or entertainment center. On the back, you’ll get a power connection, HDMI port, and Ethernet port.

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is a little more complex in design, but it still looks great. The device is rectangular instead of square, and sits in at 6.26 inches wide, so it’s quite a bit larger than the Apple TV 4K. On the top, you’ll find angled edges and green-lit highlights, which is a nice touch – and we quite like it. It still looks modern and unique, and should fit in nicely with other components. On the back of the device, you’ll find an HDMI port and an Ethernet port. Unlike the Apple TV 4K, the Shield TV Pro also includes a pair of USB ports, which can be used to expand upon the device’s storage and play external media. It makes the device a little more versatile, though not everyone will need that extra functionality.

There’s also the design of each remote to consider. The Apple TV 4K’s remote complements the minimalist look of the box itself. It has a large touch-sensitive surface at the top for basic control, instead of directional buttons like many other remotes. Apart from that, you’ll get buttons for voice control and media playback. The Nvidia Shield TV Pro’s remote, on the other hand, is a bit larger and features a unique triangular prism shape, motion-activated backlit buttons for basic controls, a single shortcut for Netflix, and a microphone for voice control.

Ultimately, the Apple TV 4K and Nvidia Shield TV Pro both look great from a design perspective. Some will prefer the more minimalistic appearance of the Apple TV 4K, while others will like the more unique look of the Shield TV Pro.

Set-up

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro uses the Android TV platform.

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The Nvidia Shield TV Pro uses the Android TV platform.
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Amazon

Setting up both the Apple TV 4K and the Nvidia Shield TV Pro is a relatively simple process – however the process is a little different depending on the device you go for. For both, you’ll start by plugging an HDMI cable into the device and then into your TV, after which you’ll connect the device to a power outlet. Turn your TV on and make sure it’s set to the right input, and then follow the on-screen instructions. For the Apple TV 4K, that will include logging in to your Apple account, while on the Shield TV, you’ll instead log in to your Google account.

No matter which device you’re using, the setup process should be simple, especially if you already have an Apple or Google account set up.

Special features

The Apple TV 4K features a stylish interface.

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The Apple TV 4K features a stylish interface.
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Best Buy

Ultimately, choosing between the Apple TV 4K and the Nvidia Shield TV Pro will likely come down to what other devices you own. Perhaps the best thing about these streaming players is how well they tie into other Apple or Google products, respectively.

For starters, the Apple TV 4K allows you to access content from your iTunes library, Apple Music, the new Apple TV+ streaming service, and more. Not only that, but there are smaller touches too. For example, when you need to type on the Apple TV to search or to enter a password, a box will show up on your iPhone – allowing you to quickly and easily type without having to scroll through a keyboard on your TV. The device also has Siri built into it – which is handy for those that use Siri for controlling smart home devices and searching the web.

Meanwhile, on the Nvidia Shield TV Pro, there’s some pretty great Google integration too. A lot of this integration has to do with the fact that the device has Google Assistant built in – and Google Assistant is largely considered to be the best digital assistant out there. On the Shield TV, you’ll also be able to access content that you have purchased on Google Play.

Both devices cater to gamers too. The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is probably the way to go for those into hardcore gaming, however, as it gives users access to Nvidia’s GeForce Now streaming platform for video games. That said, the Apple TV 4K supports the new Apple Arcade gaming service which works across Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad devices.

When it comes to general video and audio capabilities, both boxes offer great performance suitable for streaming enthusiasts. The Apple TV 4K and Nvidia Shield TV Pro both include support for 4K HDR video playback and Dolby Atmos audio from compatible apps. Unlike less expensive players from Roku, Apple and Nvidia’s boxes also feature support for the more advanced Dolby Vision HDR format as well, enabling even better brightness and contrast when watching Dolby Vision titles from apps like Netflix on compatible displays. The Shield TV Pro takes things even further with advanced AI upscaling. This feature can make HD videos look closer to 4K quality than they do on Apple’s player.

The bottom line

The Apple TV 4K and the Nvidia Shield TV are both great streaming players. They each provide fantastic integration with their respective ecosystems and extensive format support. If you’re in the market for a premium media box, you really can’t go wrong with either one. That said, you’re probably better off sticking with whichever platform you’re already invested in.

If you’re an Apple user with an iPhone and other Apple products, and you want to watch Apple TV+, then the Apple TV 4K is the way to go. It also offers a slightly better balance between price and performance compared to the Nvidia Shield TV Pro, which makes it a better overall value for most buyers.

Alternatively, if you own other Android devices and prefer Google Assistant, then it’s a better idea to get the Nvidia Shield TV Pro. It’s a bit more powerful when it comes to gaming and upscaling too, which could justify its higher price for enthusiasts. It should also be noted that Nvidia does offer a less expensive version of the Shield TV with a different design, less storage space, and no USB ports. At $149.99, this could make the standard Shield TV a better buy for Android users who want to save a little money.