A taste of something great: five days with NVIDIA's Shield Android TV

I wanted to watch The West Wing, so I asked for it. I wanted to play Asphalt 8 on my TV, so I downloaded it. I wanted people to see me playing a copy of Street Fighter X Tekken I didn't (strictly speaking) own, so I broadcasted it. All of these little interactions -- some mundane, some seemingly strange -- are what make using NVIDIA's Shield Android TV box such a tantalizing experience. At its very core, it's not all that different from the Nexus Player we saw last year, with an added veneer of NVIDIA gamer-friendliness. It's that extra dose of ambition, though, that makes the Shield the most interesting Android TV box you'll find out there right now. I've had the thing hooked up to my TV for five days and haven't completely put it through its paces yet, but read on for a taste of what it's like having a Shield-powered living room.

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NVIDIA Shield

Been jonesing for a very high-powered, Android TV-based media hub? You now have a chance to do something about that craving, as NVIDIA has started selling its Shield set-top box in North America. Pay $199 and you'll get the regular Shield, whose tiny 16GB of storage makes it clear that you'll be streaming a lot of 4K Netflix videos and playing games in the cloud through NVIDIA's GRID service. You'll need to pony up for the $299 Shield Pro to get loads of built-in storage (500GB) for local content, although you'll also get a copy of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel in the bargain. And don't worry about buying content to get started -- both Shields come with a $30 Google Play gift card and three months of Google Play Music, so you'll have something to do as soon as you've pulled off the shrink wrap.

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Google brought virtual reality to the masses cheaply with Cardboard, a DIY headset announced at last year's I/O conference. Now, the search giant's building upon its 1 million VR viewers with an improved cardboard headset that fits smartphone screens up to 6 inches. It also incorporates a new top-mounted button that replaces the finicky magnetic ring so that Cardboard works with any phone. And, in what's probably the most consumer-friendly move Google's made with the new and improved Cardboard, it takes just three steps to assemble. Clay Bavor, VP of Product, told I/O attendees that they'd be receiving these new DIY VR kits immediately after the keynote. And for interested VR developers, it's important to note the Cardboard SDK now works with iOS in addition to Android.

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KnapNok Games gets what Richard Branson doesn't. Of course people want to hang out in space, but they definitely don't want to pay top dollar to do it! So rather than drop $200,000 on a Virgin Galactic reservation, why not fire up your Wii U for some Affordable Space Adventures? The game simulates the existential nightmare of getting trapped on a foreign planet as well as makes novel use of the console's unique tablet controller. It's win-win! Join us at 3:30PM ET today for a live tour of the game on JXE Streams.

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These days, it's pretty hard to find anything electronic that doesn't have access to BBC iPlayer already. Nintendo's Wii U is one of the most notable exceptions, but if you've been quietly jonesing for an iPlayer client to hit the quirky console, then jones no more. With zero fanfare marking its launch, BBC iPlayer is now available to download in the Nintendo eShop. The Wii U's GamePad is fully supported, too, so you're not tied to the TV screen if, you know, your tablet's run out of battery.

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That Apple-exclusive streaming window is ending -- Google exec Sundar Pichai just announced that HBO Now is coming to Android too. Whether you use Android, iOS or a web browser, Google Cast support is coming too -- for the 17 million or so Chromecasts out there -- although there weren't exact details on when. HBO says it's coming "this summer," and Pichai mentioned it will be in time for the upcoming True Detective season, which premieres June 21st. There weren't any details on how, but it sounds like Google Play will offer subscriptions in the same way Apple (and Cablevision) have so far. Finally, whether you have cable or are a cord-cutter, HBO confirmed that HBO Now and HBO Go are both coming to Android TV soon. HBO VP Bernadette Aulestia says, "We have seen through social media that there is great demand for the service among Android and Chromecast users and we're excited to deliver HBO Now to them," so it looks like someone has been reading your posts.

Don't miss out on all the latest news and updates from Google I/O 2015. Follow along at our events page.

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Neon green and red lights flash as Batman maneuvers the Batmobile through loop de loops in a gaudy underground racetrack. On the streets of Gotham, giant, bulbous tanks strafe around each other shooting at the speeding Bat-vehicle as it tries to escape. Onscreen, a computer-animated Alfred appears and gets snippy with master Bruce.

This is a description of the things I did in a demo of Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Knight, due out this June on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. And if any of the above sounds a whole hell of a lot like the camp film Batman & Robin, well, that's because it's eerily similar. If you were a fan of that Joel Schumacher-directed 1997 nipple fest or the open-world distractions of the 2011 video game Arkham City, then that gameplay might sound pretty awesome. But for a fan of Batman: Arkham Asylum like myself, however, this sample of Arkham Knight was disconcerting.

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Shomi on an iPhone

Canadian cable firms Rogers and Shaw have hogged the Shomi video service all to themselves during its testing phase, but they're loosening up now that they're nearly ready for prime time. The two have revealed that their answer to Netflix will be available to all Canadians this summer, not just the companies' internet and TV subscribers. As during the beta, you'll plunk down $9 CAD ($7 US) per month to get a mix of shows and (mostly older) movies, including Transparent and other series that are Amazon exclusives in the US. The service already works through Android, Apple TV, Chromecast and iOS devices, so you won't be hurting for places to watch.

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Lenovo has unveiled its own media sharing device to keep up with the Chromecasts and Roku Streaming Sticks of the world. But the Lenovo Cast differs considerably from Google's similarly named device, and not just because it looks like a puck instead of a stick. You start by plugging it into the HDMI port of your TV or monitor (it supports HDMI 1.3) and sync up with your WiFi network, like similar products. But from there, it taps into your DNLA or Miracast-enabled smartphone, tablet or laptop, to output up to 1080P video to your big screen. That's unlike the Chromecast, which uses its proprietary (though ubiquitous) Chrome browser environment.

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The Oculus Rift is prepared to melt your perceived reality in early 2016 -- if you have the proper PC. If not, a new, Rift-ready PC plus the headset itself should cost around $1,500, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said today at the Re/code conference. "We are looking at an all-in price, if you have to go out and actually need to buy a new computer and you're going to buy the Rift... at most you should be in that $1,500 range," he said (via Re/code). He didn't provide a standalone price for the Rift, but Oculus has already divulged its recommended PC specs and they're fairly hefty.

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Life would be so much easier as a cat. Few humans recognize the potential for feline bliss better than Chris Chung, the creator of Catlateral Damage, a first-person cat simulator. As a kitty locked up in a house full of annoying human things, your goal is to knock down as many objects as possible, including books, lamps, groceries, toys and plants. After exploding in popularity in early 2014 and raising $62,000 on Kickstarter, Catlateral Damage is out today on Steam for a launch price of $9.

"I'm extremely surprised by the positive reception it's been getting, especially considering that this is my first game and that it's kind of a weird concept," Chung says. "The biggest surprise might have been our Kickstarter and how many people wanted to put their cat in the game. We had to increase the number of tiers due to high demand, which was awesome."

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The Pizza Hut Blockbuster Box

Movie-and-pizza night usually means having to retreat to the TV in the living room, but not if you live in Hong Kong. Ad firm Ogilvy & Mather HK has built the Pizza Hut Blockbuster Box, a pizza box that turns into a projector at the drop of a hat. All you do is pluck a lens out of the protective stand, mount it in the side of the box and use your smartphone (conveniently perched on the stand) as the video source -- any video that plays on your phone suddenly becomes room-sized. There's no mention of whether or not this cardboard theater will reach other countries, but it's hard to imagine this concept being limited to one city for very long.

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Fox and Apple are trying a new twist on digital movie sales starting today, pushing a Movie of the Day app on iOS. For now, it's only for Apple devices and Fox movies (a Google Play version should arrive eventually), but as you can guess from the name it just does the one thing. "Daily Flash Sales" offer a single movie, heavily discounted (up to 70 percent off, somewhere between $5 and $10), for purchase for 24 hours, with the app highlighting which one and pointing users to it. It's launching in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and France today and the first flick for sale is a $7 copy (in HD or SD, and you could just grab it via iTunes) of X-Men: First Class. Movies like Alien, Die Hard, Ice Age, Planet of the Apes, Rio, and The Sound of Music will float through its library, so if you're interested in filling up your Apple-connected digital shelf it could be worthwhile.

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Inside The DigitalFocus Spring Technology Showcase

Cox and TiVo have been making noise about joining forces and making the cable provider's extensive Video-On-Demand catalog available on retail TiVo set-tops for nearly five years now. Following a recent post by ZatzNotFunny, however, Cox confirmed earlier today that the integration will finally be taking place in "early July." But don't get excited just yet -- the initial rollout will only be available to specific IP-connected customers in Orange County, California.

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Nintendo's been going through some serious growing pains on its path to the modern era of console gaming but with this latest step it's actually beating Microsoft and Sony to the punch for once. The Japanese gaming company is running a Humble Bundle. Not a Nintendo homegrown version of a Humble Bundle, but a real McCoy on Humble's website. Pretty crazy right? Especially considering these are all indies. Up for grabs are digital codes for games on the 3DS handheld and Wii U alike, including Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition for the latter and Whoah Dave! for the former.

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