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Nvidia Shield Update Promises HDR, Plex Perks

The Nvidia Shield is probably the most expensive set-top box you can buy. As such, it’s often the first to get ambitious new features. The Shield 3.2 update, which will make its way to Nvidia’s streaming device in the near future, will add not only high dynamic range (HDR) support for Netflix programming, but also the ability to let Plex act as a media server, just like on a computer.

At present, no other streaming device (save for a computer) possesses both of these features.

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Nvidia briefed Tom’s Guide on the update, which the company promises is “coming soon.” If past experience is any indication, “soon” probably means days or weeks rather than months, so Shield owners should probably check for updates periodically. The update is a large one that will bring a handful of new apps as well as some surround sound enhancements. But HDR and Plex benefits took center stage.

First and foremost, Nvidia showcased Netflix’s growing range of 4K HDR programming, which includes most of its new and in-production original shows, such as Marco Polo. Netflix claims to offer more than a hundred hours of HDR content, so if your TV supports that protocol, the Shield will soon be able to display it.

Potentially more exciting was the news that the Shield can now act as a Plex media server. Plex fans are well aware of how useful the app is for storing videos and music, organizing them and broadcasting them to smartphones, tablets, streaming devices and game consoles. Previously, the ShieldPlex app could only act as a receiver, but now, it can broadcast media just like a computer would. Users can load their own media via USB transfer, hook up a USB hard drive or even use NAS storage -- another new feature of Update 3.2.

Nvidia also took some time to highlight the addition of Vudu to the Shield TV’s growing range of apps, although I was personally surprised to learn that this was not already part of the box’s lineup. Almost every other set-top box on the market has had this app for years.

Tom’s Guide liked the Nvidia Shield for its high-res video and gaming capabilities, but thought it was a bit expensive for what it does. The new update doesn’t look like it will radically change the value proposition for the Shield, but the changes still seem like welcome ones.