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AirTV review: AirTV puts old-fashioned antenna TV air, there and everywhere

My bigger issue is that the combination of SlingTV and AirTV conspired to put most of my OTA channels at the very end of my channel guide by default, rather than at the beginning, where one would expect them on a traditional cable box setup. I could filter by just Over the Air to get to them directly, but I found myself mostly forgetting they were even there.

The AirTV doesn't allow you to record programs out of the box -- it's not a DVR, like the more-expensive Amazon Fire TV Recast. Instead, you can connect an external hard drive to the AirTV box and use that for OTA recordings. Frankly, with so much content available via on-demand apps for different channels, I don't see a lot of utility in recording much TV anymore, so I didn't try the DVR functionality. For people who demand a DVR, however, the Recast is probably a better choice -- see our full review for details.

Those over-the-air channels also go along with the Sling app on other devices. I could call it up on my phone and watch live over-the-air TV, with the signal originating from my at-home antenna (unlike SlingTV's streaming channels, however, it doesn't work via a browser). You can also watch through the AirTV app, but that's a standalone solution that will just further fragment your media viewing experience.

Now there are two of them

There's also another version of the AirTV, called the AirTV Player. It's for people who want to easily play OTA channels, but don't have a Roku. Or Fire TV. Or Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nvidia Shield, any kind of smart TV setup, and so on. You get the idea. It's probably a pretty small subset of TV watchers, and probably not those most likely to hook up an antenna and route it through an external interface box.

This setup, in a very different-looking white box, uses a coaxial-to-USB adapter to connect to your antenna, and sends it via HDMI to a TV. Besides using the SlingTV app, it also supports Netflix, YouTube and Google Play, making it a useful streaming media box -- but at $129 (currently $99 on sale), it's no match for a Roku or Fire TV Stick, which can easily be found for under $40.

The AirTV presents an interesting conundrum when it comes to recommending it or not. I found the setup painless and intuitive, but I didn't love how my OTA channels got buried within the SlingTV app. The DVR pitch is a bit of a smoke screen, as it requires you to BYO hard drive.

But the most important thing may be your status as a SlingTV subscriber. The two services are so tightly tied together that it makes perfect sense if you're already a Sling subscriber (which I am), but it's a tough sell if you're not. 

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