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Apple TV 4K vs Amazon Fire TV Cube Gen2 vs nVidia Shield TV 2019 vs Roku Ultra

I think you are going to like it!  I have had one for about a week now and am very pleased with it.  Unfortunately, Youtube won't do HDR on it but it will on my Roku Ultra.  Being able to get Atmos on Netflix is great.
So far so good...now I just need to figure out how to program the IR with my URC remote. I got the HD Fury set up with it and like what I'm seeing from Netflix on the Dolby Vision titles. 
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Just noticed this thread. This thread would've been useful when I was analyzing which 4K streamer to get last Fall. I wound up getting both the Apple TV 4K and the nVidia Shield TV Pro. I've always liked the Apple TV, and, being a household full of iPhones and iPads, makes using media more integrated. Overall, as a general use streaming device, I like the Apple TV the most.

However, I have a large Plex library, and realized that Plex can't play Dolby Atmos off my Plex movies with the Apple TV (although it can play Atmos from remotely streamed content; maybe Apple doesn't think there's a big market for folks with big 4k local movies). So, I got the Shield TV Pro. I use the Shield TV Pro mainly for Plex. For Netflix, I use either the Apple TV 4K or nVidia Shield TV Pro (usually the Shield for Netflix when sitting down for a long show, or Apple TV when switching around between different apps).

Note that with the Apple TV, you can teach it remote commands from a remote (such as a universal remote), and it can learn more commands than what is available in the Apple Remote (for example, all the usual playback controls). I use a universal remote (Pronto TSU9400), so it was a lot easier to setup for the Apple TV than the Shield. The 2019 Nvidia Shield TV Pro does not have an infrared receiver. In order to use a universal remote's IR, you have to get a USB  adapter with an infrared receiver. I wound up getting the Flirc, which has to be setup using a PC and your chosen remote.

So bottom line is there isn't one streamer that was right for me. I have to have both the Apple TV and the Shield in my main home theater. All my other rooms (bedrooms, etc.) use Apple TV 4K only (I'm not as fuzzy as with frame rates and Dolby Atmos in these other rooms, and prefer the Apple TV overall).

In the Home Theater, I tell my wife and kids to use the Shield for certain apps (e.g. Plex and Netflix) and Apple TV for certain other apps. But unless I'm the one who boots up the system, they almost always wind up using the Apple TV regardless of what app they're using. They just want something easy to use and not worry about what to use depending on the content they plan to watch.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2020, 05:57:29 PM by randman »

Manni

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Thank you for your feedback. Yes, all this has been discussed already, so nothing new :)

ATV is definitely easier to use and more stable, but the inability to play Netflix Originals correctly and the lack of source direct mode makes it a bad chose for the enthusiast, especially if you have an external VP for best PQ. Its upscaling is OK, but it's poor compared to what an Envy (or possibly a Radiance Pro) can do, especially with lower resolution content (SD/HD/Full HD). That's why I sent mine back, despite also being part of the Apple ecosystem with iOS mobile devices around the house.

The Shield Pro with a FLIRC is less easy to use, but it provides far better integration, it's currently the only streaming box able to play Netflix content at the correct refresh rate, in its native resolution, with Atmos and Dolby Vision if that's your thing. It's quirkier to use than the ATV, but the PQ is significantly better. All is controlled with an iPad/iPhone using iRule thanks to the FLIRC (I used the Popcorn Hour command set to make sure it doesn't conflict with anything I have in the room), so it's not a problem really here.

In the family room, they are happy with a Fire TV Stick, the screen is an old Panasonic Plasma that doesn't do full HD or even less HDR, and the sound is stereo :).

This thread is on AV Science, it's NOT meant for the general public. Most people are happy with the ATV, and rightly so. They don't care about the poor upscaling, and they don't see the frame drops with 24.00 content or 60.00 content. They are used to watching 24p content at 60p with a 3-2 cadence anyway, so why would they care about native 24.00 playback and frame drops/repeats in that mode every 40 seconds or so, or the poor upscaling quality?

The petition to get this lack of 24.00 / 60.00 support in the ATV fixed by Apple just passed the 100 votes ???::). Don't hesitate to add your name, but it's clearly getting no traction. Apple are aware of the issue, but it's still not fixed in TVOS 14 beta. It might be a hardware limitation, so it might be fixed in the upcoming model, but the lack of a source direct mode will still make the ATV a poorer choice for VP owners (and those whose display/PJ does a better upscaling). So for now, I'm happy with the Shield TV Pro 2019 as a streaming box.

Doing some testing currently with the new Dune 4K Pro II (new RT1619 chipset). Very promising, but that's a subject for another thread as it's not a great streaming box (Netflix limited to stereo on Atmos titles as far as I can see). Not as good as the Oppo 203 for disc based content, but it's a good mediaplayer, especially for MyMovies users as it's fully supported by the iPad/iPhone app, which can be used as a front end both for movie selection (very nice wall on iOS, nicer than the native interface), network playback to start playing the selected title and for remote control once the playback has started.

I wish someone came up with a box that does it all well, both for streaming and media player, but it looks like they focus on one or the other, and they all have irritating bugs/limitations.

For now, it looks like we have to have different boxes for different uses if we want best PQ/AQ for all content.

For those who don't care about the ultimate PQ/AQ, there are lots of boxes from dirt cheap to fairly expensive that do everything passably well, and the ATV is one of the best (and the most expensive), at least for streaming.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 02:40:42 AM by Manni »

Manni

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I thought I'd put all the info about the Shield TV Pro 2019 in one post for easy reference so that I can link to it in the first post. These are just quick notes for experienced users as I don't have the time to write a full guide at the moment, but it should save you a lot of time and get you started fairly quickly.

General:
  • Auto refresh rate only works fully with the 2019 model, not the previous models
  • It works with both the "tube" version and the "Pro" version, however
  • The Shield TV 2019 doesn't have an IR port, so if you want to control it (Universal Remote, iRule, etc) you need to get a FLIRC
  • The FLIRC needs a USB port, so the only model able to offer integration is the Pro as the "tube" doesn't have USB ports. I therefore highly recommend getting the Pro if you want to integrate it as a source in a home cinema room.
  • In order to integrate with my Denon Universal remote and iRule, I decided to use the Popcorn Hour preset (02260) and I use the Popcorn Hour device in iRule too. I don't have any Popcorn Hour device, so this is to avoid any conflict with other mediaplayers I do have (Dune, HTPC, etc). If you have a Popcorn Hour device, select any other mediaplayer device that you don't have and is either supported by your universal remote or for which you do have a physical remote.
  • I then used the FLIRC utility to map the Popcorn Hour IR commands (using the universal Denon remote) to the nVidia Shield Gen 2 controller.
  • For iRule or similar, I used a GlobalCache IP2IR adapter with an IR Blaster to send the IR commands from the iPad/iPhone to the FLIRC on the Shield.
  • I also have a mini BT multimedia keyboard connected to the Shield in the second USB port as it's useful when setting up etc. I used this one, but any BT keyboard will do.
  • I also use an Alexa skills with an Echo Dot I have in the cinema room to control the Shield (it also controls the lights using a Vera Plus zWave controller) when I prefer not to use the iPad/iPhone with iRule.

Here are my personal notes for setting-up and making the most of the beast, these are quick & dirty shortcuts, I'll try to revise/clarify/update when/if I find the time:

Installation:
Install all system updates, device updates and all updates in Google Play after initial set-up.
If your external VP or your display offers better upscaling that than the Shield AI upscaling (which is very good already), I suggest you use the source direct experimental feature in the refresh rate app detailed below, in order to have your VP (or display) do the luma upscaling. I also suggest in that case selecting a 422 mode to have the external VP/display do some of the chroma upscaling (422 to 444). If you have issues with the source direct (auto resolution change) feature in the refresh rate app, keep it disabled but make sure that you set the Shield to use its AI upscaling, as it's better than what most displays and some VP will offer. It will not use it by default. Don't set the strength too high or it will cause artifacts.

Various:
Enable Developer Mode: Settings/Device Preferences/About/Build -> Press OK until Developer Mode is Enabled
Display Content Info during playback: Press CTRL-8 or F8 from BT or USB Keyboard. Same to switch off.
Enable Beta Match Frame Rate Feature (the 3rd party app below works better, so don't use this unless you have issues with the Refresh Rate App): Settings/Device Preferences/System/Customize Quick Settings/Enable
Mount Network Shares: Settings/Device Preferences/Storage/Mount Network Storage
Log into the nVidia account and install/enable the Alexa Skill

3rd party Refresh Rate App:
I highly recommend you follow these links and read/watch the videos before setting up the app. It is a complex process to get it working fully automatically with Netflix, and in a semi-automatic way for all the other apps.
Link to the app in Google Store (you can search for it and install it from the store itself, no need to sideload it):
Link to the user manual / support
Useful Youtube Video part 1:

Link to Youtube video part 2 (due to mistake in part 1):

Here are the settings/steps necessary to get it to work:
Settings/Apps/Special Apps Access/Display Over Other Apps/Refresh Rate/Enable
Settings/Device Preferences/Developer Options/Network Debugging/Enable
Settings/Device Preferences/Developer Options/Log Buffer Size/16Gb
Settings/Device Preferences/Accessibility/Refresh Rate/Enable
In Configuration/Advanced settings, set a key for OSD shortcut (I use volume Up 24) and Match Frame Rate shortcut (Volume Down 25).
Enable Experimental Auto resolution if you want source direct so an external VP/display can do the uscaling instead of the nVidia AI Upscaling. Note: this feature is experimental, it might not work all the time. Also make sure you select a default resolution that is the maximum resolution your display/PJ can handle (so I assume 4K), because the refresh rep app will never select a higher resolution than the default resolution.
Then back to the app main configuration, configure each app:
For Netflix and other apps supporting automatic refresh rate, it's fine to enable Match Content Frame Rate. I keep default switching and match frame rate hotkey off. I enable Display Video Frame Rate (which needs the Network debugging enabled).
For Amazon Prime (or any app giving a protection error with the auto frame matching), match content frame rate should be disabled, it doesn't work due to content protection. I enable the match frame rate hotkey, as well as the Display Video Frame Rate.
Tip:
Set the default refresh rate according to the refresh rate of most TV content in your country, so that you don't have to manually change refresh rate all the time. For the US, Japan etc, it would be NTSC, so 59 or 60p. For the UK and most of Europe, it would be PAL, so 50p. I have the default refresh rate set to 50p and I almost never have to change the frame rate manually, as most local content from UK apps (BBC, ITV, etc) uses that refresh rate, and the refresh rate change is automatic with Netflix.
Playback:
When you first launch each app, it will ask for permission, select always accept.
For Netflix and other apps working with auto, the refresh rate is selected automatically according to content.
For Prime and other apps requiring manual, play the content, make a note of the displayed rate, stop playback, and select the refresh rate manually using the hotkey (volume up for me) before re-starting playback.

KODI:
Install Embuary Skin (just my personal preference as it looks good and supports MyMovies categories)
Set-up Shares (long press, set content, local .nfo only)
Set Video to auto frame rate
Set audio to passthrough
Whitelist all resolutions for source direct

I don't use PLEX, so can't help with that :)

Let us know in the thread if you have any questions.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2020, 06:23:34 AM by Manni »

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