AirTV arrives… without OTA guide integration

Dave Zatz —  January 19, 2017 — 22 Comments

In what one customer suggests “feels like a bait & switch,” AirTV has shipped without its primary selling point enabled. Instead of directly integrating over-the-air television content into the Sling TV guide, there is merely a button to launch the separate, Google-produced Live Channels OTA app. Further, the promised Netflix integration may also be incomplete leading another owner to describe the suspiciously backordered Android-powered box as “basically equivalent to a Nexus Player.”

Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch indicates beta software was pitched at CES and that they intend to deploy OTA integration “soon” whereas another source indicates “early 2017” — whether or not they’ll deliver within the 30 day return window is anyone’s guess, but it’s certainly an inauspicious beginning to this initiative. Consumer trust is difficult to recapture, once lost…

22 responses to AirTV arrives… without OTA guide integration

  1. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t order. I’d be absolutely livid. I dunno, maybe put a note on the webpage or remove the “one guide, one interface” bit o’ marketing?

  2. I don’t know what he means by it’s equivalent to a Nexus Player? Does he mean power-wise? It’s an AndroidTV box. What does he expect?

    Integration would be nice, but that’s more a software issue than anything else. These boxes will never be more than AndroidTV boxes. I wonder how it stands up to the new AndroidTV MiBox (hardware-wise)?

  3. I assume he expects it to do what their marketing page advertises and what they demo-ed at CES, without any caveats that these core features would come at a later date. Hard to know who will throw more resources at these devices (DISH, Xioami) over time. Given Google’s history in the TV space, other than Chromecast, both may have limited shelf lives. The MiBox looks better, visually, and costs less… On the high-end, the Nvidia Shield v2 seems quite nice but maybe hard to justify the cost given everything else out there.

  4. Does anyone know if the remote is infrared or that the device has an infrared sensor? If it does, I’d be hoping that it shows up in Harmony’s database so that I could try it on my Mi Box. It would be awesome if I could assign buttons on my Harmony remote to Sling TV or Live Channels. Since I had been told that AirTV had launched first overseas, I wonder if someone out there might have the apk for the customised Sling TV app that we could possibly sideload to our Android TV boxes….

  5. I believe the remote is both IR and RF. However, the IR may only be for controlling your TV stuff — not sure if it falls back from Bluetooth. I also believe the MiBox is supposed to get this custom Sling experience with OTA integration and the ability to launch directly into the app. Who knows when.

  6. TechCrunch reports the real OTA integration will roll out in February.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/19/dishs-air-tv-set-top-box-is-half-baked-at-launch/

  7. What a boneheaded move on Sling’s part to begin shipping the AirTV without the finished software with the features that differentiate this box from other streamers on the market. I understand wanting to capitalize on the splash they made at CES but rather than immediately shipping units they should have just taken pre-orders or sign-ups for notification when the finished product, with full-featured software, became available.

  8. “What a boneheaded move on Sling’s part to begin shipping the AirTV without the finished software with the features that differentiate this box from other streamers on the market.”

    Forget it, Jake. It’s Slingtown.

  9. I still love my v1 16GB Shield. The addition of Amazon just makes it more appealing.

    I can’t wait to get my hands on the Spot mic. I have no idea where I’m going to put it tho as all my outlets are behind furniture.

  10. A major reason our huge family, and groups of neighbors and friends, all hold off ordering any BETA release!

    We advocate OTA, and convert about 2 to 6 households each week! Roku works fine, and then, when off, OTA channels, some 62 strong ones in our area, along with another 27 weaker stations, come in when we ad a TV pre-amp to the rabbit ears!!!

    Folks save over $80.00 a month, when they cut Cable TV!!!

    I am Duz2600 (from my 20+ years in the Air Force, where we built, installed, taught, fixed, telephones, with a Ring tone of 2600 Hz),,,

  11. Oh my God, consumer loss of trust, bait and switch. Children silence !! Now :) if a product does do not what you want return it. It’s no different than a coffeemaker or pair of jeans that doesn’t fit.
    Yes this is not what people wanted right out of the box. But remember the Roku 4/ ATV 4/ Windows 10 rule..Do not be the first adopter..Ever!

  12. Having worked in and covered the CE space for many years, I’ve witnessed a large number of failed products, approaches (including my own). You only get to launch once and consumer trust is a big deal.

    Glad to see DISH/Sling/AirTV LLC make some announcements today to clarify plans. However, your point is a good one – rarely does it make sense to be first and its proven out here. Returns are presumably more difficult than Amazon or Costco, but return is the right approach until press are issued review units and can chime in on completed features. Or happier early adopters on forums like AVS and reddit. But don’t you/us be that early adopter.

    Without the original stream-OTA-into-Sling-TV-app anywhere approach, I’ve been far less interested in this product. Especially without local DVR, which may or may not be on the roadmap and may or may not come to fruition. For OTA, I like HDHomeRun to Apple TV via Channels app and Tablo. I haven’t tried Android TV’s almost native OTA support tho and can’t comment.

  13. “But don’t you/us be that early adopter.”

    Where is your whimsical sense of fun and adventure?

    Why take the washer/dryer set when you can pick what’s behind the Mystery Door?

  14. And for those who don’t get Let’s Make a Deal references, here’s a more up to date cultural reference on pre-ordering from shady firms…

  15. Essentially what Sling shipped was a generic Android TV box with no special software at all. More expensive than the MiBox and nothing special to recommend it and less powerful than the Shield TV box. They bundle it with the Happauge TV Tuner (http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_xboxtv.html with the blue and white plastic substituted), proclaim that it is a breakthrough integration and then promise to deliver all the innovative software at a later date. Bait and switch at it’s purest. And if you call them out on it they tell you that to return it to them because it doesn’t do what is advertised they tell you you’ll pay return shipping. Customer trust level meters says…. NEVER AGAIN!

  16. Correction.. they are shipping the Happague HVR-955Q
    http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hvr955q.html
    which for $40 isn’t a bad deal since it’s usually around $80. But the real issue here is that all Sling did was ship a generic Android box and bundle a Happauge tuner. Then they demo’d some actual Sling contribution to this bundle in terms of software and then shipped without delivering the software which was the only thing that would have been unique to Sling.

  17. I hope the OTA integration comes to other Android boxes too. The Android Live Channels app works nicely with my HDHomeRun tuner, I’d like a single blended interface for that and the SlingTV channels.

  18. I sent mine back 2 hrs after I got it. No HDMi passthrough??? Kidding me? On a device that costs $130. It even nuked my 5.1 OTA channels down to stereo.

  19. I hope the OTA integration comes to other Android boxes too.

    Nick, I believe Sling has stated that they’re going to bring the forthcoming version of their app, which will integrate OTA TV (and Netflix recommendations?), to the Mi Box, which also runs Android TV. I don’t know why they wouldn’t roll it out to the Nvidia Shield Android TV too. The Mi Box gets it first, as it’s the only device other than their own AirTV Player that currently has been endorsed with their “Optimized for Sling TV” designation.

  20. Any chance TiVo can partner with DirectvNow Vue or other streaming service and one up AirTV on this? Seems like they basically have to if they want to remain relevant.

  21. It’s still an Android TV box with Google play, etc. It loaded Kodi up just fine for me. So, you can use DirecTV or whatever other IP TV service you want. It’s very easy to get to the OTA channels, not sure why an extra click is such a fuss, it’s not like you have to change inputs on the TV or anything. But no matter what, all apps, including Kodi are stereo sound only, at least right now.

  22. Robert the extra click is a big deal because it was pretty much the whole selling point… OTA integrated with Sling. It’s pretty much why people would be buying this product.

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