What’s old is new again and the Slingbox Tuner, circa 2006, lives on in the form of AirTV 2.
The ownership timeline is somewhat convoluted at this point — Echostar buys my former employer Sling Media and later transfers the assets to DISH who launch AirTV LLC as a hardware accessory/gateway for their Sling TV LLC service — but the core technology and value proposition remain the same: a network tuner streams locally-sourced television video around the home… and beyond. And CNET has gone hands on with the latest iteration:
While the AirTV is not the first DVR I’d suggest to cord cutters (that would be the Fire TV Recast), the AirTV is a lot less expensive and works best for Sling TV subscribers who want to watch live TV sports and other local programming. And despite the fact that it uses the Sling TV app and menus, you don’t need to be a Sling TV subscriber to use it.
Unlike the first AirTV, this new $99 model requires the Sling TV app… but the currently supported set-top platforms are Android TV, Fire TV, and Roku. While iOS is supported on mobile, Apple TV isn’t (yet?) compatible nor is there web-based access (like the Sling of old). However, beyond merely adding an antenna as we did in prior decades, AirTV also acts as a DVR with the addition of a USB hard drive. Sadly, that recording capability doesn’t extend to pausing live television according to CNET, who suggest the Fire TV Recast as a superior, cost-effect OTA DVR.