DISH’s AirTV Player is an unappreciated gem. It’s a standalone media player that lets you use Sling TV, Netflix, and other services that work with the Android TV platform, and what makes it special is the ability to integrate antenna TV into the same app as Sling TV. Sling TV tends to be a little shy in adding local channels, because local channels often drive costs up. With the AirTV player, you get local channels as part of Sling TV for no additional charge. The result is an experience that’s as close to traditional pay TV as possible without the high fees sometimes associated with pay TV.
The only thing that’s been missing up until now is the DVR, but that’s about to change. DISH is rolling out a public beta of DVR functionality for the AirTV player. You hook up your external USB hard drive or flash drive to the AirTV device, and you get a DVR for your local channels. Simple as that. There are a few provisos over at the AirTV web site, as well as some recommended hard drives, but they couldn’t have made it easier.
Considering how cheap flash drives have gotten, this ends up being one of the least expensive DVRs you will ever buy, and you get the full Sling TV experience as well, including its cloud DVR feature for national channels, which is available for a small extra charge.
In the coming days I will be testing this feature with some AirTV hardware that Sling was gracious enough to provide, and I’ll give you a full report of its capabilities. Remember though, it’s still in beta so there are going to be some hiccups to be expected. Apparently one of them is that you lose your recordings if you eject the device through the Android TV menu so all I can say is, don’t do that.