We've been huge supporters of the original Nvidia Shield TV since it launched in the UK at the tail end of 2015. It has been the most powerful and capable media streamer on the market for a good 15 months or so.

But now a new version is available, priced at £189.99, and it improves on the original in almost every way.

The price might seem hefty in comparison with some media boxes, but the new Shield TV offers much more than most rivals. It comes with the newly designed games controller and a dedicated remote control. The latter wasn't part of the package last year so is very welcome.

We played with the new Shield TV at CES 2017 and also had a one-hour private briefing on the new device, far from the madness of the consumer electronics trade show. We left in awe.

In our first encounter, we played Titanfall 2 in 4K, streamed over GameStream from a local PC. GameStream links the Shield to a PC on the same network, either through Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and gives you the opportunity to play games housed on your GeForce GTX GPU-enabled computer on a Shield TV and therefore a big screen.

It is now compatible with Origin games, hence Titanfall 2, and even Microsoft titles, like Forza Horizon 3  or Gears of War 4.

What's most impressive, bar the Ultra HD graphics, is the extremely low lag. Latency has been optimised to the max and it really felt like we were playing directly on the PC, rather than across the network. We cannot wait to try it with other titles.

Pocket-lintNvidia Shield TV 2-3

The controller is much better this year too. It's more ergonomic, that's for sure, resembling an Xbox equivalent - save for some stylised shaping around the grips. It's lighter too and a great improvement over the previous model.

The box is much smaller than before, but similarly styled. It is also compatible with Google Assistant and other smart home systems (through SmartThings), so you can use the Shield TV to bark commands for your smart devices and appliances to enact upon. A handy, optional microphone - the Nvidia Spot - will help with that and even extend the experience around the home.

In the briefing, we also got to see some of the other features of the new box.

Pocket-lintNvidia Shield TV - Spot-15

It is the first Android TV box to get Android Nougat, so has a few new features that the operating system introduces. There is picture in picture support on the home screen, for example, and multitasking with already-opened games and apps appearing in a scrollable bar.

The menu system has been redesigned too, with just Apps and Games segments, with the latter containing all games you have played or installed, no matter whether they are Android, GameStream or through Nvidia's cloud-gaming platform, GeForce Now.

The idea is that owners want to play games, they don't really care where they come from.

Video streaming apps are offered with 4K HDR where possible, including Amazon Video for the first time. The new Nvidia Shield TV is the first box to offer HDR on Amazon content - not even Amazon's own Fire TV has that capability yet. There is also a YouTube 360 app, providing access to 360-degree videos on TV for the very first time. It works very well with the controller, using the right stick to navigate around the screen.

Pocket-lintNvidia Shield TV - Spot-14

We got to see the Shield in action as a Google Assistant device too. It can play music, etc, simply through voice commands. And because of the IFTTT functionality, we saw it control a Nest heating system, lighting and even a coffee machine remotely, all through voice.

The Google Assistant compatibility also makes the Shield TV's search work well with voice, and is contextual. Some would even argue that the box is better than a Google Home speaker as it can do everything the speaker can do, but because it goes through your TV, it shows graphical answers too.

For example, if you ask it what the weather will be like tomorrow, you will also see a weather pop-up on screen as well as a spoken version. The Google Home only reads it out.

Speech is registered through the Nvidia Shield controller rather than the box as you might tuck the Shield TV itself in an AV cabinet. The remote control was also considered, but because it is small, it could be down the back of the sofa when you most want to use voice commands.

One other alternative is the previously mentioned Nvidia Spot - a tiny ball microphone and speaker that plugs directly into a power socket in your home. This connects to the Shield TV and works much like an Amazon Echo Dot. You can therefore use it to control smart devices, or find out Google Assistant results even when you're not in the same room as your Shield TV.

Pocket-lintNvidia Shield TV - Spot-5

The Shield TV comes with an all-new remote control, that looks like the last, optional model, but has IR to also control a TV and battery cells rather than a rechargeable power source. Like us, many first-gen Shield TV owners lamented the fact that the previous remote needed to be charged regularly. The batteries mean it should last around a year at a time.

First Impressions

Although we've only spent a short amount of time with the new Shield TV so far, it is clear that it will easily live up to the tag of being the most powerful media streamer around. It's expensive, yes, but is much more capable than any rival.

There's also great news for owners of the original Shield TV, as they will also be getting the new user interface and many of the features. The Google Assistant compatibility won't be available, but plenty else will.

And then there's the fact that this latest model is such a capable games console too. In fact, at this stage we can't fault it. And it's easily one of the most impressive things we saw at CES 2017.

Roll on the full review, which we'll be posting very soon. Watch this space.