VUDU, a highly popular online streaming service provider, has been reportedly warning its users that issues with NVIDIA Shield TV devices will result in limiting the streaming quality of content. Simply put, it has been sending out communications clearly stating that playback on ShieldTV would be limited to HDX quality. The company hasn’t been reportedly forthcoming about the exact details, and nor has it offered any resolution to the “issue” which limits the quality to 1080p or perhaps even lower in some cases.
It is interesting to note that apart from VUDU, several other platforms have reportedly been unable to stream content in higher quality despite their hardware official support. Users claim the issue could be due to the most recent Android 9.0 Pie Update that was sent to the aging but still quite relevant NVIDIA Shield TV.
Issues With NVIDIA Shield TV Cause Restrictions In Streaming Quality?
Several NVIDIA Shield TV users have been openly complaining about their powerful and well-equipped Android TV streaming box is incapable of playing content at Ultra HD or 4K Video quality in the VUDU streaming app. Evidently, VUDU insists that it was NVIDIA that alerted VUDU about the issue, indicating it wasn’t the fault of the latter.
While the reports are coming in about VUDU, several users have been actively commenting about similar streaming quality restrictions in other popular platforms. Simply put many NVIDIA Shield TV users haven’t been able to stream content in Ultra HD or 4K quality on their high-end Android TV box.
— HotHardware (@HotHardware) September 9, 2019
Interestingly, a Reddit user who claims to be an ‘NVIDIA Forums Representative’ indicates NVIDIA is aware of a “4K playback issue impacting a small number of apps on SHIELD TV devices”, and insists the company is “working on a solution”. The person notes that the top 4K providers, including Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video, are not affected. The user has also added that users can cast these movies to SHIELD in 4K using built-in Chromecast.
Although this offers some clarity, implies that NVIDIA is working to resolve the issue and resume playback of UHD quality on the Shield TV, there are several who aren’t satisfied with the company’s clarifications.
Whitelisted Services Stream At 4K But NVIDIA Shield TV’s Widevine Certificate Expired?
The primary reason why some services can stream in Ultra High Quality, while others are limited to 1080p Full HD or even lower 720p quality could be quite simple. Services like Netflix and Stan have whitelisted the Shield TV. Meanwhile, Amazon uses ‘Playready’ for its content streaming service. Both these aspects allow Shield TV to continue to stream from those services at 4K.
Apps like MoviesAnywhere, Vudu, Google Play, FandangoNow, DC Universe, and even Disney’s own streaming platform, go through an entirely different process. Most of these services require the Android TV Box to have Google’s Widevine L1 certification and support. The certification basically confirms the relevant services that the Android TV Box is capable of receiving a secured and an encrypted stream of content at 4K UHD quality.
— Tech Guide (@TechGuideAU) June 25, 2018
Comments claim NVIDIA’s Widevine certificate that’s installed on every single 2015 and 2017 model has been downgraded from Level 1 to Level 3. This directly means that every app/service that uses Widevine for its encryption, which in turn relies on Google’s license server to provide valid keys for content, considers the Shield TV to be no better than an uncertified device incapable of streaming 4K through a secured and reliable pathway.
NVIDIA Shield TV is a highly capable Android TV box that still confidently holds its ground. The aging hardware still outperforms several Android TV boxes that are quite popular. However, it is likely that the latest NVIDIA Shield TV Android 9.0 Pie Update may have caused some issue with the backend certification process. This could explain why several services fail to stream content at 4K UHD on the Android TV box. The question is how quickly will NVIDIA rectify the situation, which is clearly not platform or hardware dependent.