AirTV To Gain OTA DVR Capabilities

Dave Zatz —  January 5, 2018

By way of Cord Cutters News, we learn that DISH subsidiary AirTV has inadvertently leaked upcoming product plans for at least one, if not two, DVR services. AirTV, of course, is designed to harness over-the-air television signals, with the first iteration displaying content locally and the newer edition implementing Slingbox technology to stream OTA around the house or around the world to apps on a variety of platforms including iPhone, Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV.

While live antenna programming is nice, it’s also available on nearly every HDTV and “appointment television” is pretty darn limiting… so DVR capabilities would certainly enhance the value proposition of these offerings. Based on the pre-release marketing materials, it seems DISH will take divergent approaches in how they handle AirTV DVR based upon hardware model – but we’re reserving judgement until it all becomes official, presumably in the coming days as CES ramps up.

10 responses to AirTV To Gain OTA DVR Capabilities

  1. Thanx Dave, very interesting articles this time around!!

  2. I believe consumers are looking for one solution that “does it all,” (just like their cable did). This could be a good contender.

  3. I wonder what the price point would be. It sounds like this is the exact same product that was rumored to be released before they released the senseless AirTV Player. I have Sling TV, shared over two households/networks, and would love the ability to incorporate local/antenna-based channels into the Sling TV interface on my Apple TV.
    My questions are: Will be more than 1 tuner?, Can you watch OTA local channels on a network outside your home?, & Will the DVR functionality only apply to the local/antenna-based channels or all of Sling TV’s subscribed channel offerings to record whatever show you want regardless of the station?

    And btw, The AirTV product pictured here does already exist, minus the DVR, and had a limited release. Here’s a review from someone who has one:

    What I really don’t understand is why streaming devices like the Roku, Chromecast, or especially Apple TV (which I have), don’t add a coaxial cable or the ability to add one directly to the back and incorporate it within their “TV” app. It makes so much sense that there must be a very easily explainable reason that I’m not seeing as to why no product, especially the Apple TV, does this. Imagine Apple TV’s “TV” app with their pooled content that brings you On-Demand Shows, Live Sports, and Movies/TV Shows/Music in iTunes Library, also adding the function (and a new beautiful interface) of coaxial-based live stations; be it Antenna or Cable from your local provider. The functions would, in effect, replace your monthly-fee cable box with minimal effort from Apple in terms of development – all they need to build is an interface on top of what they already have in the app.

    Can anyone tell me the reason(s) companies like Apple don’t do this or haven’t done this yet?… Because I am astonished as to why they haven’t. Steaming box sales would go dramatically up (making it a really enticing market), not to mention, the products would replace cable boxes and own the market – because nobody would want to pay a monthly fee for a box anymore. But even if cable companies somehow blocked the ability for companies to add coaxial ports and have them receive content, they could at least add local/antenna-based stations (which I think many people would want – and the companies too). No longer would you have to go back and forth between your Apple TV and your (ugh) TV input to view all your stations/content.

  4. Edit:

    Forgot to link the review: https://youtu.be/zfI5fO0SQxA

  5. Both products are currently available for sale, the latest news is the incoming DVR capabilities referenced above. The original AirTV is the Android-powered Fisher-price looking box called the AirTV Player. The new AirTV based on Slingbox hardware is just AirTV and, yes, it does have two tuners.

    https://www.airtv.net/products/

    So hardware pricing is set, but we don’t yet know if DVR will be free. I assume will find out any minute…

    I also assume Luke at Cord Cutters News (the linked video), like Forbes, received a review unit right at launch. Haven’t been following along, not sure if real customers received anything.

    Regarding integration, tuners cost manufacturers money, as does software integration and there remains a question of how many sales it’ll actually drive. For reference, some newer Android TV boxes like Nvidia Shield let you attach USB tuners for TV…

  6. I placed my order, will see if feedback from paying customer regarding possible DVR functionality will help the cause. I noticed my Fire TV Sling TV App updated to include the OTA tuner. I know Apple TV Sling TV is not supported, but attempted Chat Support with Sling TV to verify. You would think Dish would inform inter company CS about App support.

    I Spent 15 minutes with a CS rep on Chat telling me Sling TV only supports OTA with the dedicated AirTV PLAYER, that they had no details of Sling TV supporting OTA on Fire TV.
    I even suggested he look up the official AirTV Product Page. He apparently did, then continued that I misunderstood how the PLAYER functioned.

  7. I have been using Air TV 2 with Sling TV for a couple of weeks, on different devices including Nvidia Shield, Fire TV, Iphone X, at home and over LTE. Works great. TV channels loading times much better than with Tablo which I tried and returned. Don’t ask me why but I was getting more OTA channels with AirTV than with Tablo as well. Very convenient having Sling integrated with OTA channels. Waiting on DVR function for perfection

  8. I have the AirTv unit. It’s a nice unit. I do wish the DVR functionality already existed but it’s nice to hear that it may be coming soon. I have the unit installed in my home and can watch my local OTA channels on my phone or tablet outside of my home. Better yet I can also watch my OTA channels at my cottage (in another state).

    My biggest disappointment(s) is Sling integration only works on my Fire Stick of which I only have one. My go to streaming device, Roku, does not have the Sling integration. So you are left with a choice either use the AirTv only on the Fire Stick with integration or use the AirTv app so that I can get my OTA on all TV’s in the house. I chose to use the AirTv app. The AirTV app works fine but to have a single app to do it all would be better. My other disappointment is the device itself. The Ethernet port is not a Gigabit port and the WiFi is N. This both surprises me and disappoints me at the same time.

  9. I also questioned the limitations of Wifi, and Ethernet. As this is in essence a repurposed Slingbox M series, it makes since that it uses legacy components. Considering what is being transmitted, both engineers I consulted agreed Giga would be overkill. They also stated Wifi most likely would not be an issue. With my system, AirTV connected to 2.5 Ghz although 5 is available. I forced it to connect by disabling 2.5 on router, for testing. I did Not observe any difference between Ethernet, or 2.5 5.0 wifi connections using each for 2 hour periods.

    Using identical setup of antenna, and location Air TV locked on to several stations that a similar device, Clearstream TV, didn’t even acknowledge, (and even worse reception direct to 2016 model Sony Bravia). These stations were at approx 25-30%, and Red in the strength meter. They are stable but occasionally a notice of Weak signal shows at bottom. One bug I notice, even channels registering 100%, and Green are occasionally preceded by a warning that there is no content available, check connections, (16-109). Within seconds the channel broadcasts and strength is 100%.

    I use the stand alone AirTV app on AppleTV, but did testing with FireTV/SlingTV, (PITA to have to reset AirTV box). The Integration is not very polished, and guide info lacking. I also noticed a hiccup within 2 seconds when OTA broadcasts begin. Although I am currently a SlingTV subscriber, I appreciate the stand alone app not locking my investment directly to SlingTV. YouTube TV recently released an app for AppleTV and is supported in my area. The SlingTV experience is not very good for AppleTV users. Continued DVR issues and other well known APPLETV specific problems continue with responses over last 6 months that “engineers are working day and night to resolve your issues”.

    AirTV has responded to Twitter questions over last 3-4 weeks that a software update to allow DVR recording of OTA broadcasts is coming soon. I’m hopeful that it is not only available through Sling TV app. One of the responses indicated that it required use of an USB connected drive.

  10. Unfortunately, the Beta DVR functionality announced by DISH is only available for the Android TV based AirTV Player,… So far. AirTV (black box) owners expressed their frustration and the response was support is “coming soon”.