Dish started out as a satellite TV provider, but they have bigger plans now. Their new AirTV combines over-the-air (OTA) products and services with internet streaming video for an affordable mix of old-fashioned television and streaming.
It's made up of two products and one service. The main product is the AirTV Player. This a 4K Android TV-based streaming device and lists for $99.99. To enable it to work with OTA TV stations, you'll need an AirTV adapter, $39.99, and an OTA antenna. These are both sold separately. You can get the AirTV Player and AirTV adapter together for $129.99.
The AirTV Player supports both 802.11ac and earlier Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet. Its remote relies on Bluetooth. To connect with your TV it uses HDMI.
You can install the gear yourself, or you can use AirTV Pro Install, a service that offers expertise, installation, and setup of OTA antennas. AirTV Pro Install service offers Winegard FlatWave Amped indoor antennas and Televes DigiNova BOSS outdoor antennas. Standard one-room antenna installation, including the antenna, is available starting at $99.99 for an indoor antenna or $149.99 for an outdoor antenna. Installation is available in 48 markets at launch, while broadcast station availability is dependent on geographic location, topography, and antenna specifications. You can also use the AirTV Player with your existing antenna.
AirTV's key selling point is it enables you to combine streaming and OTA TV with one interface and one remote. "AirTV Player simplifies what has been a fragmented viewing experience and integrates a customer's entertainment options in one easy-to-navigate app," said Mitch Weinraub, AirTV's director of product development, in a statement. "AirTV's new streaming device and antenna installation service again make getting your entertainment as easy as turning on the TV."
This new streaming gadget will be competing with a variety of other streaming devices. The closest competitor, however, doesn't come from Apple, Amazon, or Roku, but from TiVo. The grandfather of DVRs has several models, the Roamio and Bolt, that combine OTA and internet video streaming.
The big difference between TiVo and AirTV offerings is that the TiVo models come with DVR. However, AirTV will soon be offering DVR services for its primary streaming platform, Sling TV.
There are other differences. The AirTV interface combines streaming channels with OTA more seamlessly than TiVo does. On the other hand, AirTV currently only offers Netflix, YouTube, Sling TV, and channels available via the Google Play Store
Last, but never least, AirTV at $129.99 is far cheaper than the bottom-line TiVo Bolt TB with its $199.99 price-tag and $14.99 a month TiVo DVR fee. The AirTV has no monthly fee.