AirTV 2 review: Cut cable, stream local antenna TV with no monthly fee

    Sling TV was the primary dwell TV streaming service when it went dwell in 2015, and after 5 years it is nonetheless the most effective values for wire cutters at $30 per 30 days. The service retains its costs decrease than rivals like YouTube TV as a result of it does not carry native channels like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in most elements of the nation. The AirTV, now in its second iteration, is the right Sling TV companion and an awesome worth in its personal proper. This {hardware} tuner field permits you to watch and report these lacking native channels with out paying any month-to-month payment. Just add a $10 antenna. 

    LikeThe AirTV 2 is inexpensive and integrates seamlessly with Sling TV.Doesn’t require a Sling TV subscription.No month-to-month payment.

    Don’t LikeDoesn’t embody a tough drive.DVR cannot pause dwell native TV.Unable to observe channels by way of an internet browser or on Apple TV.

    Compared to the wonderful Amazon Fire TV Recast nevertheless, the $99 AirTV 2 shouldn’t be (but) a slick, trouble-free improve. First off, you may have so as to add your personal exterior laborious drive to show it right into a DVR. Second, it does not let customers pause native TV, and it does not work with all platforms — you’ll be able to’t use it to observe by way of desktop browsers or the Sling app on Apple TV. While the AirTV shouldn’t be the primary DVR I’d counsel to wire cutters (that will be the Fire TV Recast), the AirTV is rather a lot inexpensive and works greatest for Sling TV subscribers who need to watch dwell TV sports activities and different native programming. And even though it makes use of the Sling TV app and menus, you do not have to be a Sling TV subscriber to make use of it. 

    Sarah Tew/CNET
    Let’s get this out of the best way first: just like the Recast and different fashionable networked over-the-air DVRs, the AirTV 2 does not hook up with your TV in any respect. Instead, it connects to your private home community by way of Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet and sends dwell over-the-air TV from a linked antenna to your cellular or sensible TV system. To really watch the TV packages, you may use the Sling TV app on a kind of units, for instance a Roku or iPhone. The authentic AirTV was an Apple Mac Mini-size system embossed with what seemed like a sneaker’s tread. The AirTV 2 is an entire redesign that takes up much less house and has a sleeker look besides. It sits vertically, like a contemporary cable modem, nevertheless it’s a lot smaller — it tapers out to 2.3 inches large, 5 inches excessive and 6.5 inches deep. Connections embody USB, Ethernet, coaxial antenna and 802.11ac wi-fi. The system has two onboard tuners so you’ll be able to report or watch as much as two channels directly. 

    It’s price noting that the proprietary energy connector is type of funky — it clips in like an Ethernet cable. So, if the ability adapter turns into misplaced or broken, this guidelines out third-party replacements. Full disclosure: we did misplace the aggressive Fire TV Recast’s adapter and discovering a alternative for that has proved to be troublesome. OptionsIt can be utilized purely as a dwell TV tuner, and our overview of the unique AirTV overview was based mostly solely on that functionality, however including an exterior laborious drive provides the flexibility to report. The firm does not stipulate any particular necessities for the kind of drive apart from that the exterior system should be between 50GB and 2TB in dimension.Compared to the Fire TV Recast, which has an built-in laborious drive, there’s nonetheless quite a lot of stuff you want for the AirTV 2. I used a conveyable laborious drive — a WD 2TB Elements Portable ($57 at Walmart) — that means no extra energy brick. Yet, the drive, the inner antenna and its USB umbilical nonetheless have to be positioned someplace.  
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    The AIrTV is designed to work with apps for Roku, Amazon FireTV, Android TV, iOS, Android or AirTV mini or AirTV participant. Be conscious that the native channels will not load in case you’re watching on an internet browser or an Apple TV ($179 at Apple); you may solely see the usual Sling TV channels.Also remember the fact that the AirTV cannot report streaming channels, simply native ones, so in case you’re a Sling subscriber you are still restricted to that service’s cloud DVR — and its 10-hour or 50-hour recording restrict — for non-antenna streaming channels like TNT, ESPN, CNN and the remainder.

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    Setup Like a typical human male, I did not use the Quick Setup information included within the field. That was a mistake. The AirTV 2 setup was not like the unique model in a single main method: it does not use the AirTV app. Instead, setup is completed by way of an easy-to-miss choice within the Settings tab of the Sling TV app referred to as Over the Air Channels. To folks like me who stumble into this, if this selection was referred to as AirTV 2 setup and even Over the Air Channels Setup it might have been way more simple.With a $10 antenna and my moveable drive linked, the remainder of the setup was simple. The unit will allow you to tune in to all the obtainable native channels in your space. In my checks in New York, for instance, I used to be capable of view and report 76 totally different channels. Using the AirTV 2Remote streaming native channels from the AirTV 2 on an iPhone
    Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury/CNET
    A whole lot of the AirTV’s success or lack thereof depends on how you are feeling in regards to the Sling TV app itself. It’s not as putting as Hulu with Live TV or highly effective as YouTube TV, nevertheless it does what you want it to — help you watch TV. I primarily used the Roku app at dwelling and the iPhone ($699 at Apple) app whereas roaming the streets of New York City, streaming TV from my antenna at dwelling. Accessing the dwell native channels is completed by way of the Channels menu choice, and you’ll choose Over the Air Channels particularly by way of the “hamburger” menu button within the nook.While accessing the channels over my telephone it took round 6 seconds for many channels to load, and as much as 8 seconds for ones on the very finish of the spectrum. In comparability the streaming channels took wherever from 0 to 5 seconds, however keep in mind checks like these are depending on so many components together with your private home add pace. Unless you could have a ninja dwelling community connection, it is seemingly that streaming channels will load sooner than these from the AirTV 2 typically.The locals’ image high quality was indistinguishable from that of the streaming channels for essentially the most half, and this was after choosing the Best Quality choice within the iPhone app.
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    The AirTV 2 does have its limitations, as beforehand mentioned, and these could possibly be the deal-breakers for some folks. Given which you can pause (on most) streaming channels utilizing the cloud DVR, the shortcoming to pause dwell native TV is a bit of irritating. Also, in case you’re somebody who likes to go away a browser open and hearken to a recreation whereas working you’ll be able to rule that out now. No matter whether or not you are on a telephone browser or the desktop you will not have the ability to see any of the OTA channels or watch any of the recordings offered by AirTV 2. You’ll see the streaming channels solely. The identical goes for Apple TV.Should you purchase it?If you’re, or plan to be, a long-term Sling TV person, then the AirTV 2 is an excellent worth. Compared to the $55 price of Hulu with Live TV, the AirTV 2 pays for itself inside 4 months. The incontrovertible fact that the AirTV will nonetheless work and not using a Sling subscription makes this unit a super-cheap DVR, although the dearth of dwell pause and browser assist is limiting. At $99, plus about $50 for the laborious drive, the AirTV is nonetheless a superb worth for wire cutters who need to stream their antenna TV. But paying a bit extra for the Fire TV Recast is a greater transfer for many wire cutters.

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