Nvidia un­veils gi­ant 65in gam­ing dis­play

Nvidia sneaks into the TV busi­ness with its Shield-pow­ered Big For­mat Gam­ing Dis­plays, re­veals JARED NEW­MAN

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Tech­ni­cally, Nvidia did not an­nounce any smart TVs at CES. In­stead, it revealed a set of 65in mon­i­tors that it’s call­ing Big For­mat Gam­ing Dis­plays (BFGD). Built by Acer, Asus, and HP – but all using the same 4K HDR panel – they’re sup­posed to bring high-end PC gam­ing into the lounge.

But if you look past the gam­ing el­e­ments, Nvidia’s BFGDs could be­come the best smart TVs that money

can buy when they ar­rive in the sec­ond half of this year. Their dis­play qual­ity ri­vals some of the best tele­vi­sions from com­pa­nies like Sam­sung, they use a fancy vari­able re­fresh rate tech­nol­ogy that no other tele­vi­sion has yet, and they have the guts of an Nvidia Shield TV – ar­guably the best me­dia streamer on the mar­ket to­day – built in.

The only thing miss­ing is a TV tuner for pulling in over-the-air TV broad­casts, which pre­cludes Nvidia from using the term ‘tele­vi­sion’ to de­scribe its new cre­ations. That doesn’t mean you should over­look BFGDs next time you need a new liv­ing room dis­play.

It’s all about that panel

Although Acer, Asus, and HP use dif­fer­ent in­dus­trial de­signs and might of­fer some mi­nor dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures – such as more HDMI in­puts or better builtin speak­ers – all three BFGDs use the same panel, man­u­fac­tured by AUO. It’s a stun­ning dis­play, using the same kind of quan­tum dot fil­ter­ing that ap­pears on high-end LED TVs from Sam­sung and others. It also has a peak bright­ness of 1000 nits, which is what the Ul­traHD Al­liance rec­om­mends to see the full ben­e­fits of 4K HDR.

More im­por­tantly, the BFGDs will be among the first TV-sized dis­plays to sup­port vari­able re­fresh rates, in this case using Nvidia’s pro­pri­etary G-Sync tech­nol­ogy. This al­lows the BFGDs to avoid screen tear­ing and stut­ter­ing by match­ing the dis­play’s frame rate on the fly to what­ever’s hap­pen­ing on screen.

While vari­able re­fresh rate is ob­vi­ously use­ful for match­ing the ups and downs of video game frame

rates, it also comes in handy for video, whose re­fresh rate can vary de­pend­ing on the source. The BFGDs can switch be­tween 60fps YouTube videos and 24fps movies with­out hav­ing to flash a blank screen like to­day’s TVs do.

The Shield fac­tor

Granted, Nvidia won’t be the only com­pany of­fer­ing those fea­tures in a tele­vi­sion this year. Sam­sung plans to sup­port vari­able re­fresh rate in some of its new high-end tele­vi­sions, which also of­fer 4K HDR with quan­tum dot tech­nol­ogy. Vari­able re­fresh rate should also come to more tele­vi­sions in the future through the HDMI 2.1 con­nec­tor.

What re­ally helps Nvidia’s BFGDs stand out, then, are its smarts. As a smart TV, the BFGDs func­tion iden­ti­cally to an Nvidia Shield TV streaming box, which runs on Google’s An­droid TV plat­form. It can run apps from the Google Play Store and uses the Google As­sis­tant for voice con­trols, and it can turn the

tele­vi­sion into a Plex server, SmartThings hub, or over­the-air DVR box. Per­for­mance be much smoother and faster than your av­er­age smart TV, since the BFGDs and the Shield TV share the same Te­gra X1 pro­ces­sor.

As for the lack of a TV tuner, that’s not a ma­jor prob­lem see­ing as you can plug a tuner into one of the BFGD’s USB ports (or use a net­worked tuner, such as HDHomeRun or Tablo). This al­lows you to watch and record over-the-air chan­nels through an app within the Shield’s in­ter­face.

There’s just one prob­lem: Nei­ther Nvidia nor its hard­ware part­ners are talk­ing prices yet, and these dis­plays aren’t likely to come cheap. If you’re en­am­oured with the Nvidia Shield, but don’t want to pay through the nose for a tele­vi­sion, you can still buy the streaming box on its own for £179 from

fave.co/2Dm­fFFG, or £189 with a bun­dled game con­troller from fave.co/2D9ghLs.

The Shield TV lives on

If you’re wor­ried that all this means an end to the Shield TV as a stand­alone prod­uct, Nvidia says it’s still com­mit­ted to the streaming box, and to the Shield hard­ware line in gen­eral. Nvidia’s di­rec­tor of Shield prod­uct man­age­ment Chris Daniel says the set-top box will be avail­able in more coun­tries this year.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited about Shield, and it’s do­ing well,” Daniel said. (Nvidia has never pro­vided any sales fig­ures for the Shield line.)

Daniel also said to ex­pect an up­grade to An­droid 8.0 Oreo for the Shield TV some­time in 2018, although he wouldn’t get any more spe­cific than that.

“We’re send­ing a lot of changes back to Google that we want to see, so we’re mak­ing changes with Google,” Daniel says.

Part of the hold-up is Oreo’s new in­ter­face, which lets each app ad­ver­tise a row of con­tent on the home screen, and of­fers a ‘Watch Next’ sec­tion where users can quickly catch up on favourites from dif­fer­ent streaming ser­vice. Right now, most app mak­ers haven’t both­ered to sup­port those new fea­tures; Nvidia has been try­ing to get them on board.

“That’s the whole in­ter­face, right? And if you re­lease a whole new in­ter­face, and the apps aren’t sup­port­ing it, then we don’t feel like it’s a good launch for us,” Daniel says. “So we’re work­ing hard on that.”

BFGDs have the same smart TV in­nards as an Nvidia Shield TV streaming box

An­droid 8.0 Oreo for the Shield TV in 2018

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