Dish Releases AirTV Mini to Simplify Sling TV Experience

DISH has just released a new AirTV.  The AirTV Mini is a palm-sized dongle that appears to be a promising upgrade from the original 2017 AirTV Player.  Faster hardware, a new interface and a welcome change to basic black from the white-and-blue original box and remote are just a few of its new features.  

AirTV devices were designed to work with DISH’s Sling TV live TV streaming app. The AirTV Mini’s new user interface brings Netflix and Over the Air (OTA) local channels into the Sling TV app making it easier for cord-cutters to access all of their streaming content from a single guide.

“The AirTV brand is committed to making local TV relevant and easily accessible to streamers,” said Mitch Weinraub, director of product development for AirTV. “The AirTV Mini is a powerhouse streaming stick with more memory and a faster processor than anything else in the category. When combined with the AirTV network tuner and the Sling TV app, the Mini delivers a superior streaming experience, especially for Slingers who want premium features in a small package at an affordable price.”

The original AirTV Player was priced at $120, and charged another $30 for a single TV tuner that can be attached to the Player to receive OTA TV.  The new dongle has a lower price, at $80, but requires the separate AirTV network tuner for an additional $80 in order to receive local broadcast channels. Both devices also require an antenna that needs to be purchased separately The network tuner has the added benefit of streaming live TV to mobile devices outside the home. 

However, if you act quickly, new and eligible existing Sling TV customers can receive an AirTV network tuner and indoor antenna for free when they prepay for a three-month subscription of at least $25 per month.

Like its predecessor, the Mini can stream 4K Netflix and YouTube but has added high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities. 

When the Mini is powered on, it launches directly into the Sling TV app where Netflix and OTA channels are integrated. Like the AirTV Player remote, the Mini remote also has a button to quickly return to the Sling TV menu and a Netflix button for direct access to Netflix content. A home button, missing from the original Player’s remote, will presumably take the user to a menu where all downloaded apps can be found.

Because the AirTV Mini is powered by the Android TV platform, users can download and run thousands of apps from the Google Play store.  Where the Google button on the AirTV Player was simply used for search and basic commands, the AirTV Mini fully supports Google Assistant. Using the “G” button on the remote control, users can use voice commands to get weather forecasts, ask about traffic conditions, find information with a Google search, or control smart home devices that are compatible with Google Assistant. Plus, it includes Chromecast for easy streaming from mobile devices.  

For Sling TV subscribers, this may be the device that simplifies the streaming of live TV and Netflix.  Let’s see if it succeeds when we get our hands on one for testing.