Nvidia Shield vs Roku: Which One has Best Features

Streaming devices are used by most consumers because they want to ‘cut the cord’. Both Nvidia Shield and Roku give you the freedom to access a huge number of online streaming content and Live TV so that you don’t have to pay for cables.

This article will focus on comparing Nvidia Shield vs Roku explaining all the features. The big question is, is the Nvidia Shield worth the extra cost compared to Roku? Well, the answer is yes if you are into games, a better picture, and audio quality.

Otherwise, Roku will provide all major apps and contents, user-friendly interface. it also has more number of models from which you can choose. Both the devices come with easy-to-use remote control. You can also use voice search to control the TV.

Nvidia Shield vs Roku: Comparison Table:

 Nvidia ShieldRoku
AI upscalingYesNo
4K gamingYesNo
Google Play Movies & TVYesno
HDR4K, Dolby Vision HDR, HDR 10Streaming Stick +: HDR 10

Ultra: HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG
AudioDolby Audio (Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos)
DTS-X surround sound (pass-through) over HDMI
Ultra: Dolby Atmos decoding via HDMI

Streaming Stick+: DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Audio and Dolby ATMOS pass through over HDMI, Digital stereo over HDMI
ProcessorNVIDIA® Tegra® X1+ processor, 256-core NVIDIA GPU, 2 GB RAMQuad-core
OSAndroid 9.0 PieRoku OS
Voice searchAdvanced featuresBasic
Gigabit Ethernetyesno
Backlit Remoteyesno
USB 3.0yesNo
Live TV with USB Tuner + Local DVRyesNo
Built-in ChromecastPro: yesno
RAMShield:2GB
Shield Pro: 3GB
Ultra: 2GB
Internal storageShield: 8GB
Shield Pro: 16GB
Ultra: 8GB

Comparing Roku Ultra vs Nvidia Shield 2019 we see that the Roku doesn’t have USB 3.0, Tuner, or Local DVR. The audio and video features vary as well. Other noticeable differences are AI-upscaling and streaming 4K contents or Dolby Vision, Atmos contents.

Comparing the Roku vs Nvidia Shield we see that

Nvidia Shield

Which one is the best, Nvidia Shield or Roku?

Roku is one of the best affordable streaming devices that you can use. If you are not so much into games and have a family to access the TV frequently you should buy it.

Nvidia Shield is a powerful streaming device. It is an Android-powered streaming device or gaming console with which you can do a lot of things including playing games, watching content, using a Plex media server, Kodi, etc.

Nvidia Shield vs Roku: Overview

Among all the Roku models, the Roku Ultra is the latest which is released in 2020. The Ultra and Streaming Stick is said to be a close match with Nvidia Shield. Roku owns a Quad-core processor whereas Nvidia Shield has Tegra® X1+ processor.

Roku gives you the flexibility to choose between different models. Streambar is another excellent choice if you think your TV sound is very poor. It will do the work of both the soundbar and the streaming device.

The main difference between Nvidia Shield vs Nvidia Shield Pro is increased memory.  The new Roku Ultra also has more memory, supports Dolby Vision, and varies in video and audio features compared to other models.

Nvidia Shield vs Roku: Full Comparison

Design

The Nvidia Shield tube has a tubular or cylindrical design whereas the Nvidia Shield Pro is a slim rectangular box that you can’t hide behind your TV. The Shield tube doesn’t have any light to poke you in the eye during movie nights. The Pro has a green neon light that indicates it on.

The Roku Ultra 2020 is a small square-shaped box that also has a power light. The other devices like Roku Express or Premiere both have box shape design that is easy to use. Among all, the Streaming Stick + is the smallest device that you can hide behind the TV easily.

Winner: Nvidia Shield Android TV or tube and Roku Express or Streaming Stick + have small devices so if you like minimalist design and don’t want to display several devices at your home you can look for them.

Ease of Installation:

Streaming devices are the easiest to install.  The setup requires plugging in the device via HDMI and then plugging in the device with the power supply.

Winner: Both

Video features:

Roku Nvidia Shield 
ExpressUp to 1080p HDNvidia Shield Android TV4K HDR,
Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10,
AI-based upscaling: 720p/1080p to 4K up to 30 FPS,
Up to 4K HDR at 60 FPS,
Up to 4K at 60 FPS
Up to 1080p at 60 FPS
Premiere4K Ultra HD with support for HDR, HDR 10, HLG, 1080p HD
Streaming Stick +4K Ultra HD with support for HDR, HDR 10, HLG, 1080p HDNvidia Shield Android TV Pro4K HDR,
Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10,
AI-based upscaling for 720p/1080p to 4K up to 30 FPS,
Up to 4K HDR at 60 FPS,
Up to 4K 60 FPS,
Up to 1080p playback at 60 FPS
Ultra4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR 10, HLG, Dolby Vision, 1080p HD
Streambar4K, HDR, 1080p, HDR 10, HLG

 Does the Nvidia Shield vs Roku video quality vary or is the same?  If you look at the table of Nvidia Shield vs Roku comparison chart above, you will see several models of both these brands such as the Premiere, Streaming Stick +, Streambar, and Nvidia Shield come with similar picture quality which is 4K HDR. They also support HLG, HDR 10.

AI-enhanced: Nvidia Shield

One of the major differences between Nvidia Shield vs Roku video is the AI upscaling. The Nvidia Shield models use the Artificial Intelligent method of scaling low-quality content to 4K. It can upscale the videos on Netflix, YouTube, or other apps so that the image is crispier, crystal and clear, and more vivid compared to Roku.

Comparing Nvidia Shield vs Roku Dolby characteristics, we see that none of the Roku features Dolby Vision HDR except Roku Ultra. Whereas, both Shield and Shield Pro has Dolby Vision HDR. It can play content from apps like Prime Video, Disney +, Vudu, or Netflix in Dolby Vision. Atmos quality but Roku devices cannot.

How to select the AI-Enhanced option?

Nvidia Shield AI-Enhanced_soundboxlab.com

  • Go to Settings option
  • Select AI upscaling and then “AI-Enhanced”
  • On the remote press on Settings and shuffle between Basic and AI upscaling to see the difference
  • You can also select Low, Medium, or High level of AI upscaling

Winner:  Between Nvidia Shield vs Roku for the sharpest picture, the winner is Nvidia Shield due to the AI-enhanced feature.

Audio features:

Roku Nvidia Shield 
ExpressDTS Digital Surround, Dolby Audio, and Dolby ATMOS pass through over HDMI, Digital stereo over HDMINvidia Shield Android TVDolby Audio (Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos)
DTS-X surround sound (pass-through) over HDMI
PremiereDTS Digital Surround, Dolby Audio, and Dolby ATMOS pass through over HDMI, Digital stereo over HDMI
Streaming Stick +DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Audio, and Dolby ATMOS pass through over HDMI, Digital stereo over HDMINvidia Shield Android TV ProDolby Audio (Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos)
DTS-X surround sound (pass-through) over HDMI
UltraDolby Atmos decoding via HDMI.
StreambarSpeakers: Four 1.9" full-range drivers.

From the streaming devices comparison chart, we see that there are some differences in audio specifications. The audio quality in Roku models is undoubtedly impressive because all of them support Dolby Audio and Atmos.

The Nvidia Shield has Dolby Atmos, Digital Plus which means all these streaming devices will play content with powerful surround sound. Comparing the Nvidia Shield vs Roku Streambar, we see that the stream bar supports Dolby Audio and has built-in speakers.

With two speakers in the front and two sideways it delivers a room-filling sound for movies, music, or games.

Winner: Roku Streambar if you want to enhance the audio of your TV otherwise Nvidia Shield.

Control options:

 RemoteVoice assistant
Roku ExpressStandard remoteGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa
RokuPremiereStandard remoteGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Roku Streaming Stick +voice remote with TV controlsGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Roku UltraLost remote finder, personal shortcut buttons, headphone jack, voice remote with TV controlsGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Roku Streambarvoice remote with TV controlsGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Nvidia Shielddedicated button for Netflix, lost remote locator, backlit, customize buttonGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Nvidia Shield Prodedicated button for Netflix, lost remote locator, backlit, customize buttonGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa

The remote control plays a huge role to determine user flexibility because it is the device you will use the most. The Nvidia Shield vs Roku remote control varies in design and functions. Roku remotes are sleek and slim with 4 dedicated buttons for Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Disney +.

We didn’t find the Roku remote side buttons to be convenient to use. Other than that, it is easy to use and familiar with the buttons.

Roku Remote_soundboxlab.com

Nvidia Shield remotes have a triangular shape which might look weird but is very comfortable to hold. The buttons are scattered which makes it easy to use and has one button for Netflix. It has a backlit feature so you can see buttons in dark.

Nvidia Shield Remote_soundboxlab.com

None of the Roku remotes has a remote locator except Ultra. You can set up your AV receiver or soundbar with HDMI CEC so that you can use the Shield remote to control them or vice versa. Roku doesn’t have this feature. You can also use voice assistants to control the TV.

Winner: Nvidia Shield remote is more comfortable to hold and use.

Contents:

The apps and contents are the main reason for you to buy the streaming device. The one that can provide all your desired apps, online streaming content, or Live TV will be the best streaming device for TV. Comparing Nvidia Shield vs Roku content, they both cover the major apps or Live TVs such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Sling, YouTube TV, etc.

However, Nvidia Shield seems to be more powerful while streaming 4K contents or apps with Dolby Vision. Atmos. Both Nvidia shield and Roku can stream 4K content from apps like Netflix, Vudu, Disney+, FadangoNow but only Shield can play 4K content from Google Play Movies & TV and 4K Gaming.

The Roku doesn’t support Dolby Vision, Atmos. It also doesn’t have any app for Google Play Music and you can’t play AAA games on Roku. If these things don’t matter to you, then you can easily go with Roku.

Winner: Both have all the most popular apps

User interface:

The differences between Roku vs Nvidia Shield user interface vary in their style and speed. Roku is well-known for having a clean and easy-to-navigate interface. the left side has a list of sections where you can view Home which is the main screen, Featured Free, Movies, TV Shows, etc.

In the top right corner then option button where you can move or close the app. You will realize Roku gives ads that consume a large space on the right-hand side.

Roku UI_soundboxlab.com

Nvidia Shield is snappier than Roku and has no ads which is a big upvote for most people. The TV screen is filled with apps and contents you would like or have seen before. The left side has App to show a list of popular apps, Play next to show contents you have seen, Netflix, YouTube, and other apps contents.

The right corner of the TV has the Settings option where you will find Quick Settings, General Settings, etc. where you can choose AI Upscaling, change the device name, view video codec, and others.

Nvidia Shield UI_soundboxlab.com

Winner: Nvidia shield as it is faster with no ads.

Casting:

Casting is to view your smartphone’s screen on your TV. Between Nvidia Shield vs Roku screen mirroring, the method they use is quite different. The Nvidia Shield has built-in Chromecast so you can easily cast any content like movies or games to your TV.

Whereas the Roku doesn’t have this but in the Setting option you can Enable Screen mirroring. Between Nvidia Shield vs Roku casting, the Roku doesn’t stream all content via Chromecast 4K, it can only cast some limited apps.

How to cast from iOS, Android, or PC to Roku?

For iOS:

  • Make sure Roku is on mirroring mode
  • Go to the Photo+ app
  • Then select Photos, Music, Video, or Screensaver based on what you want to mirror.

For Android:

  • Go to Settings option
  • Select Display and then choose Cast Screen.
  • Press on the Menu at the right corner then select the Enable Wireless Display

For PC (Windows):

  • In the Action Center, choose ‘Connect’
  • Select Roku from available devices
  • Press on Roku and complete mirroring by following the commands.

Winner: Both can mirror screen but it is easier with Nvidia Shield.

Other features:

Plex: Nvidia Shield vs Roku

Nvidia Shield TV has a built-in app for Plex. It works as a media server and player for Plex. The Nvidia Shield Pro has a built-in Plex Media Server, 500GB internal storage, and a powerful processor that is ideal for accessing Plex. You need to download the Plex Client app on your mobile and enable remote access to view the content on another device like mobile or tab when you are away.

Comparing Nvidia Shield vs Roku for Plex, the Roku doesn’t act like Plex Media Server. For Roku, you need to download the Plex app then login to the Plex Media Server in your Computer or NAS and proceed with the activation code. Plex is said to make the Nvidia Shield UI ‘ugly’ and there is some feature-wise limitation on Roku as well.

Kodi: Nvidia Shield vs Roku

Kodi is an open-source media center that gives you access to thousands of contents encouraging you to cut the cord. Comparing Roku vs Nvidia Shield Kodi, we see that the Nvidia Shield supports Kodi but Roku doesn’t.

How to get Kodi on Nvidia Shield?

  • Go to the Google Play Store
  • On the search bar type Kodi and search
  • Download and install the Kodi app

How to get Kodi on Roku?

Roku doesn’t support Kodi and there is no way for jailbreaking Roku. However, you can get Kodi on Roku by another approach

  • Make sure Roku is updated or has a software version of 5.6 or more.
  • Enable Screen Mirroring on Roku
  • Download Kodi on Android or Windows
  • Then use screen mirroring to view Kodi on Roku

Control Smart Devices: Nvidia Shield vs Roku

Nvidia Shield is one step ahead in controlling other smart devices at your home. You can buy the SmartThings Link for Nvidia Shield Pro to turn it into a smart home hub.

After set up, you can control smart thermostats, light bulbs, water valves, doorbells, etc. with this device.  Comparing Nvidia Shield vs Roku smart hub, the Shield has this option but Roku doesn’t.

Nvidia Shield vs Roku: Which one will suit you the best?

Reasons to buy Nvidia ShieldReasons to buy Roku
you want ad-free content
you take gaming seriously
UI is faster than Roku
For advanced level users
AI upscaling
Gaming with Nvidia GeForce Now, Nvidia GameStream, Google Play Store
You have budget constraints
You don’t have a problem with ads
UI is fast
For entry-level users
Gaming is not a primary concern
You only need access to popular apps like Netflix, Vudu, YouTube TV.
Great WAF factor and easy for kids to use

Parting Words:

In this article on Nvidia Shield vs Roku, we focus on the details of each streaming device. We have narrowed down the features to draw a conclusion and select a winner. Nvidia Shield is a powerhouse in the case of streaming and gaming.

Specifically, the gaming features are not designed for Roku. Also, the Plex, Kodi, Google Play Movies & TV are easily accessible via Shield and Shield Pro.  You can experience the total experience without a single ad interrupting you which is a big deal for some users.

Roku is the cheaper alternative for Nvidia Shield. The navigation in Roku is easy and simple and if you enjoy the major apps then it has got you covered. You can access the Roku Channel to watch content for free but with ads.

Find out the difference between Roku and AirTV

FAQ

This faq is here to solve some of your problems and provide you a better understanding about this subject.

How to play Google Play Music on Roku?

Answer: Make sure the TV is on Screen mirroring mode. Then use a smartphone, Android, or other to download Google Play Music. Use screen mirroring to view Google Play Music on Roku.

How to make sure my Nvidia Shield is updated?

Answer: Usually if any software update is available, it will automatically come on your home screen. If you want to check then:

  • On the Settings option choose Device preferences
  • Select About and then System upgrade
  • Select ‘Auto-upgrade’.

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