I own a Shield TV 2017 edition for quite some time now. I mainly use it for media consumption through Jellyfin and the occasional YouTube video. It came with a joypad and a remote, but the joypad is known to be a bit lacking in quality, and mine broke some time ago.
I used to play some Android games with it (Asphalt for example) but ever since the joypad completely broke down I stopped playing games on the Shield.
I also thumbled around with streaming games from my more powerful desktop, but never really got into using this. And since I no longer had a joypad to work with the Shield, I gave up on this.
Finding a new controller
Since I wanted to give local game streaming another chance, I was looking into finding a proper replacement joypad. In my opinion, the best joypads comes with the reputable brands that make consoles; Sony/PS and Microsoft/Xbox.
I decided to go for the lather, since the Xbox controller is known to be quite compatible with other devices than the Xbox. The newer versions have builtin bluetooth support, and the ShieldTV also supports bluetooth connectivity. So on the surface that seems like a good match. However there is one big problem with the ShieldTV; it’s bluetooth range is just abominable.
I’ve tried using the bluetooth of the Shield before, with a Xbox controller loaned from a friend to test this out. I could not reach the couch without dropping connection.
So I began to look for ways to solve the issue. I found that the 8BitDo wireless adapter works very well with both Android and the Xbox controller.
And yes, I was presently surprised that after pairing the Xbox controller to the 8DitDo adapter, it immediatly worked perfectly on my ShieldTV.
Which streaming service to use?
With the issues on the client side now settled, I moved on to the server side of things (that is, my gaming desktop).
I still had to settle on a service to stream my games with. I own a nVidia card, and not too long ago it was possible to stream games with the nVidia Geforce Experience software. However this feature is now removed so that option went out the Window(s :p).
The natural other solution is using Steam’s in home streaming feature. So I went to install the Steam Link app on the Shield and enabled the feature in the Steam client. And this works, but not as seamless as I’d like the experience to be…
Wake on LAN (WoL)
The first thing is that, naturally, the PC needs to be powered on in order to play any kind of games. WoL let’s you power on a computer by ways of sending a specially crafted packet to the computer in question.
I already had WoL setup before, so taking advantage of this didn’t take any further actions on my part.
Setting up WoL is pretty straight forward. Enable it in your BIOS/UEFI and making sure the network adapter driver in Windows is configured to use WoL. You can find many guides online on how to do this, so I won’t go into the details here on how to set this up.
Logging into Windows
In order to use Steam Link, the PC needs to be logged in to a Windows account where the Steam client is running. This step is a little bit more convoluted.
Ofcourse just doing this manually by walking over to the PC and logging in, would do the job. But I wanted a solution that would work easily from the comfort of the couch.
The first thing I tried was just using Remote Desktop to log in to the Windows PC. This does work, but since the RDP client I wanted to use was my smartphone, the resolution would be adjusted to be a match for the phone’s display. When I then log in to Steam Link, the resolution of the RDP session would take effect, and wouldn’t match my TV’s display. So this was a no go.
So naturally I went looking for a more fitting solution, and I found one in the form of an Android app “Remote Fingerprint Unlock”. This app will let you log into a Windows account and use the set resolution of Windows, exactly what I was looking for. On the plus side, the payed version of this app can also sent a WoL command, so with just one action on my smartphone I can power on the PC and also have it log in to my Windows account.
Now I got all the moving parts in place to have a quite seamless experience to stream PC games to my ShieldTV 🙂