The Scoop: Today, Plex announced that the Nvidia Shield is the first ‘all-in-one Plex box’. This means, that for just $200, you can have a Plex media server that is powerful enough to stream content locally and externally to your devices. This is a huge announcement that brings self-hosted media to the masses.
The Fuss: Previously, people would have to utilize their main computers as Plex servers unless they wanted to buy or build a computer with the specific intention of serving media. These builds are often expensive and time consuming to set up. There of course is options to use NAS software to run Plex, but we won’t go there since it really isn’t a feasible solution.
Surprisingly, the small package the Nvidia Shield sits in actually powers quite a punch. Let’s look at its specifications:
Processor: NVIDIA Tegra X1 Processor (256 cores)
Display Support: 4K @ 60 fps
Audio Support: 7.1 @ 24-bits/192kHz
Storage: 16GB or 500GB
Wireless: 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.1
Ports: Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0, 2 x USB 3.1, Micro-USB, Micro-SD (up to 128GB), IR Receiver
The specs look pretty good, but it does come with a few caveats where other full-fledged computers are able to overtake it. Nvidea Shield is only able to support hardware accelerated transcoding for the following formats: H.264, H.265 (HEVC) and MPEG 2; and it is limited to 2-3 simultaneous transcodes. These limitations of course pale in comparison to buying a full server rack – and unless you are serious about media serving, these limitations wont matter much to you.
If you are thinking about migrating your existing Plex library over to run on the Nvidia Shield you should probably consider the following:
Channel or Plugin Suppot: No
Premium Music Library: No
Preview Release Support: No
Media Optimization Support: Not really feasible unless you have a 128GB Micro-SD card laying around or dish out $100 more to purchase the 500GB version.
All this said, the Shield actually looks like a solid alternative to us media enthusiasts that don’t need all the special bells and whistles that come with a powerful PC or server rack. And for $199 or $299 it’s not a bad deal!