AirTV Review – Legit or Hype?
AirTV is a series of two different devices you can use to watch local TV, stream those channels to multiple TV’s or devices, and to stream content from Netflix and YouTube.
The device is more advanced than a simple HD antenna in that it can stream content to various devices via your Wi-Fi router but it doesn’t require a monthly subscription fee like you’d pay for SlingTV, although you’ll need the free SlingTV app in certain situations.
The AirTV made headlines at CES, the yearly consumer electronics show at which all sorts of new products debut. PCMag praised the device for being simpler than SlingTV and, therefore, more accessible to the non-tech-savvy crowd.
In this review, we’ll discuss how the AirTV works, as it has someone nuances that could be confusing at first glance. Then, we’ll talk about pricing and follow up with an overview of customer experiences available at the time of publishing.
How the AirTV Works
AirTV offers two devices that are designed for specific situations: the black box and the Player.
AirTV Black Box
This device has one specific goal—to broadcast your local television station to TV’s with Roku, AppleTV, Chromecast, Android TV and Amazon fireTV, phones and tablets.
Setting the device up is simple. You connect it to your internet via an Ethernet cable. Then, you’ll connect your HD antenna to the black box. Plug the power cord in and you’re ready to do setup.
Here’s where things get a bit tricky. You’ll need to download the free SlingTV app or AirTV app in order to get everything ready. The AirTV website and the phone rep with whom we spoke said the FireTV app is free, so there shouldn’t be any surprises.
You’ll have to create an account with Sling or AirTV if you don’t already have it. Then, use the Sling or AirTV app to connect the box to your internet and perform a channel scan to capture local TV stations.
Once you do your channel scan and save the channels you find, you’re good to go. But, keep in mind that, in order to watch local channels at home, you can only do it via TV’s that have a Roku, Apple TV, Fire stick or Android TV device connected to them.
Now, here’s where the magic comes in. Through the AirTV app or SlingTV app, you can watch your local TV stations wherever you are. Just open up the app on your mobile device and you’ve got live TV at your fingertips. However, it’s important to point out that only one device at a time can be connected to the app’s live TV service.
According to the phone rep with whom we spoke, the AirTV Player is specifically designed to work with those who already have a paid SlingTV subscription or will buy one. The reason behind this pairing with a paid Sling subscription is that Sling doesn’t give you local channels. If you’re connected to your Sling and you want to watch local channels, you have to switch sources on your TV, adding an extra step.
As we were told, the AirTV Player integrates your local TV channels into your SlingTV subscription. Just like the black box, you’ll need to connect your Player to your internet as well as to an HD antenna. Once you’ve got it powered up, you download the free SlingTV app, go through the setup and then save the channels you were able to get during your scan.
With this process now complete, you can integrate local channels into your Sling subscription. When you want to watch those local channels, log into your SlingTV app and watch away.
What’s nice about the Player is that it automatically has Chromecast built into it. To use the Chromecast, you’ll need to connect your AirTV Player to your TV via an HDMI cord and then open up the Google Home app on your phone.
As you’re deciding which device you want, you need to remember that the Player is designed specifically for a SlingTV subscription. If you don’t have a subscription but you want to be able to watch local TV on the go, then you buy the AirTV black box instead.
Pro tip: Both the AirTV black box and the AirTV Player are compatible with iOS and Android devices.
Both of these devices allow you to DVR your local channels, a novel idea that you can’t implement with an HD antenna or TV.
You’ll DVR via the SlingTV app but, you have to keep in mind that you need to buy a hard drive in order to record shows. The AirTV doesn’t have its own internal media storage.
The phone rep with whom we spoke told us that they recommend a drive with a minimum of 64 GB of storage and a maximum of 2 TB.
The AirTV Player bundle includes a DVR adapter but the black box does not.
If you’re using the free SlingTV app to DVR live TV, then you’ll need to go through a simple setup process that you can read about in detail on the AirTV DVR page.
AirTV Cost and Add-Ons
At the time of publishing, the AirTV black box was $119 and the AirTV Player bundle (single-tuner adapter, remote) was on sale for $99. Both devices came with free shipping, a 30-day money-back guarantee and a one-year parts warranty.
The site was offering a $25 credit toward SlingTV for black box purchases and a $50 credit for Player purchases.
The site also has a series of add-ons that serve as upgrades (dual-tuner adapter) and replacements:
- Single-tuner adapter: $9.99
- Dual-tuner adapter: $29.99
- AirTV Player remote: $19.99
- AirTV power supply: $4.99
The adapter, remote and power supply come with your Player. The black box has its own power supply and adapter, too.
Basically, AirTV gives you the ability to buy replacement products once your one-year warranty period is over.
Should you need to make a warranty claim because your AirTV is defective, you can call (866)974-1354 to make the claim. You’ll be responsible for return shipping.
Customer Reviews of AirTV
There are several different online marketplaces that sell AirTv and, consequently, those sites have customer reviews of their AirTV experience. The following ratings, number of reviews and summaries of user comments are subject to change, as we gathered the information at the time of publishing.
AirTV had 202 reviews for an average rating of 3.4 stars. Forty percent of the device’s reviews were five stars, while 23 percent were one star. Reviewers gave it 4.3 stars for picture quality, 3.7 stars for ease of use and 3.4 for tech support.
The most notable complaint we saw is that the Sling TV app doesn’t work with LG TV’s. Here’s what one reviewer said:
“Unfortunately, when I opened the Sling TV app on my LG television, my over-the-air channels did not appear. I tried signing out and signing back in, to no avail. Furthermore, no updates to the Sling TV app were available in the LG Content Store.”
Other complaints said the AirTV’s software was glitchy and that, in some cases, playback of DVR’ed shows was choppy and garbled.
There were 11 customers who left reviews of the AirTV black box. Their average score was 3.1 stars. As the average rating indicates, input from users was mixed. One customer complained that the device provided a choppy signal and that they had a hard time finding the free version of the SlingTV app.
Another customer praised it, saying it’s a great add-on for people who have a SlingTV and want to be able to watch local television via their Sling service. Here’s a snippet of this customer’s five-star review:
“I love this funny little box. It is NOTHING LIKE some of the negative reviews I’ve seen on YouTube and nothing like some of the demos there. They continued to make nice changes and improvements on this box...and have turned out a great product.”
Our Experience With AirTV Customer Service
We called AirTV’s customer service line twice to get more information about the product. Both times we called, someone picked up the phone within 10 seconds. Each person was patient, friendly and answered all of our questions clearly.
While we didn’t demo a box in advance of this review, we can say that their customer service is excellent and we enjoyed our conversations with AirTV’s phone representatives.
Our Final Thoughts About AirTV
Our research of this product proved to be a little confusing at first. When you go to the AirTV website to learn more about what it does, the product explanations don’t quite give you a clear picture of why you’d need the device.
Our conclusion is that the AirTV black box is an excellent choice for someone who wants to be able to DVR their local TV channels, and/or for someone who wants to watch TV when they’re away from home.
The AirTV Player is a good option for someone who likes SlingTV but wants to be able to watch local channels in addition to the premium channels they get.
Based on what we’ve learned from the company’s customer reviews, you could run into issues with connectivity and software. What’s nice about the AirTV, though, is that you have 30 days to try it out and return it.
Because your phone, TV and casting device (Roku, Fire, etc.) have to communicate with your AirTV, we could see some glitches develop. Also, remember that your reception and the quality of your DVR’ed shows are only as good as how your antenna is positioned in your home.
If you have poor reception, the quality of your TV stations will be poor as well, no matter how advanced your AirTV is.