LAST UPDATED JUNE 24, 2017 AT 8:32 A.M.
Sling TV has added every device to its Cloud DVR service except AirTV
UPDATE: Sling TV has added Cloud DVR support to the AirTV Player along with Windows 10 and iOS devices.
Sling TV executives did some bragging on themselves this week, but they’ve left one lingering question unanswered about its 4K streaming device, AirTV Player.
Will it ever get Cloud DVR?
Apple TV became the latest device this week to become compatible with Sling TV’s new Cloud DVR.
“Sling TV is the only OTT provider on Apple TV that allows you to keep recordings as long as you keep Cloud DVR,” Ben Weinberger, Sling TV’s chief product officer, said in a blog post on Monday.
Sling TV’s Cloud DVR now works on nearly every streaming device on the market except its own. The AirTV Player went on sale in January.
Earlier this month, Sling TV began supporting Roku and Android to work with its Cloud DVR. Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Android devices were added weeks earlier. AirTV Player operates on a version of the Android TV software. It was created by a company owned by Dish Network, the parent company of Sling TV. AirTV Player was first unveiled at CES 2017 and quickly drew praise for combining OTA channels and Sling TV programming into a single menu.
The DVR service allows users to purchase 50 hours of recording space for $5 per month.
AirTV Player discount for pre-paid Sling TV subscription
Sling TV has repeatedly noted in its press releases and blog posts that AirTV Player isn’t compatible with Cloud DVR. But it hasn’t made any assurances to current or future buyers of AirTV Players that the DVR feature will eventually be added.
That didn’t cause the company to shy away from encouraging sales.
A new promotion was launched on Tuesday offering deep discounts for the AirTV Player and AirTV Adapter. The discount requires you to sign up for one of three pre-paid Sling TV subscriptions.
1) Prepay for three months of Sling TV if your base service is $20 or over and get AirTV Player and AirTV Adapter for $50.
2) Prepay for four months of Sling TV if your monthly payment is between $15 and $20 and get AirTV Player and AirTV Adapter for $50.
3) Prepay for six months of Sling TV if your monthly payment is under $15 and get AirTV Player and AirTV Adapter for $50.
I’ve been a Sling TV customer in the past, and it’s a great service.
But the Cloud DVR feature is an odd topic for Sling TV to brag about. It’s a feature that’s been slow to roll out while up-and-coming competitors like fuboTV had a fully functional Cloud DVR during beta testing. The Cloud DVR for Sling also still doesn’t allow for recording on all channels.
Is AirTV Player worth it?
I haven’t tested the AirTV Player personally, but the lack of Cloud DVR gives me pause. I also wonder what the relevance of the device would be if a competitor like Amazon Fire TV suddenly rolled out a software update that combined OTA and a competing streaming service into a single menu.
No such plan has been announced, but we do know that three TV manufacturers will debut new 4K TV sets later this year that will operate on Amazon Fire TV software. These televisions are made to counter the wildly popular Roku TV sets.
But you can be sure that Amazon is exploring ways to combine OTA channel with live TV streaming services.
Amazon has already been updating Fire TV devices regularly via over-the-air software updates. So to think that AirTV Players will remain unique for long is unrealistic. The other potential downside for buyers is that an AirTV Player is designed to keep you married to Sling TV, whether you want it or not. If you want to try out a competing live TV streaming service like PlayStation Vue or fuboTV, you can. But there are plenty of other options out there. A recent Techhive piece by Jared Newman does a great job outlining many of AirTV’s shortcomings.
Are there any other Sling TV deals?
If someone asked me about the AirTV promotion like the one offered above, I would suggest that they take a look at another promotion that Sling TV still offers.
I did some searching this morning while writing this piece and found that you can still get 50 percent off on a Roku Premiere+ when you prepay for three months of Sling TV. To keep it frugal and maximize your value, you could sign up for three months of Sling Orange for $60, and essentially pay $49.50 for the Roku.
A Roku Premiere+ currently costs about $99 on Amazon and the same at the Roku Store. The Premiere+ is easily the best streamer Roku makes at the moment, and if you don’t like Sling TV, you can try out a competing service like fuboTV.
Or you could stick with Sling TV. Either way, you’d be getting a better deal.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble
I was one that fell for buying the AirTV player thinking that the OTA channels were already integrated into the guide but they were not. Three months later they released an update that provided that functionality. Also, it’s optimized for Sling, but I have refused to sign up for Sling until the DVR functionality is available on the AirTV player. Still waiting….
I’m running PSVue on it currently. It runs a lot slower than on the Fire TV box. Navigation in the PSVue guide feels slow and clunky. PSVue and other apps were experiencing streaming video freezing issues fairly frequently on the AirTV device. I called and complained to AirTV and they didn’t know anything about such an issue. There must have been some updates because it doesn’t happen as much now. If you buy AirTV player you better test the hell out of it and make sure you like it in the first 30 days because there are NO RETURNS OR REFUNDS after that time period!
When you hit the home button (Sling button) does it take you a typical Android home screen, since you don’t use Sling? I assume you have to click on PSVue app to access that, it doesn’t automatically take you to it, correct?
Scott Bradley (@tweetscottyb) says
1 Amazon doesn’t work, it doesn’t work because Amazon does it want it to work on Android, they want you to buy FireTV (one exception Shield box who paid Amazon lots of dough).
2. Yes, you can download and use Vue on this box (though you will have to disable Sling to make it feel like a normal Android box.
3. Google Tuner? (in app store) is an app that WILL let you have an OTA guide when you hook up he USB antenna to this device, you DON’T have to use Sling to view OTA (Sling would not advertise that).
4. Cloud DVR – Vue is 30 days rolling, free or included Sling is $5 for 50 hours (you can’t record everything i.e. Disney/ESPN some live events etc.
5. It took Sling 3 months to update this box to what was promised back in December (integrated guide and bug fixes), hence it is VERY frustrating that this box is last in line for DVR and who knows when the promise will be kept.
6. The big update a few weeks ago had glitches, the Sling OTA guide keeps losing your OTA channel scan, also the HDMI flickering is still an issue.
I was an early adopter, I bought 2 new and one used back in January. Being frustrated I’ve ventured out to test Vue with a FireTV and it’s pretty slick. I’ve also purchased a Tivo Roamio OTA DVR and I am super pleased with. I did not plan on getting these devices, but since Sling/Dish dragged their feet (and still are) I had to explore other options.
The Cord Cutter says
With great, helpful comments like this, I consider the CCR a true success. This is the kind of info that I was looking for on the web before I started this site. Thanks for breakdown, Scott!
Amazon doesn’t just work on Shield box, it works fine on all Rokus as well of course. I used to have Vue but I actually like the Sling dvr better. It functions more like a true dvr. I like how the show keeps playing while you fast forward and you can see exactly how far you are going, while Vue its a guessing game. And having the ability to keep recordings as long as you want is nice. 30 days isnt always long enough. As far as Fire TV goes, I stopped using mine due to too many issues with apps not working well. Apps on Roku work so much better than Fire TV.
According to tweets from Sling executives this week, the cloud dvr is coming to the AirTv. Not sure why it is taking so long though….And I think Playstation Vue is compatible with the AirTV if you download the app from the playstore. So technically you don’t have to use Sling on the AirTv.
The Cord Cutter says
That’s some good intel. Thanks for sharing it. It’s odd that they haven’t addressed the lack of Cloud DVR with AirTV at all in their regular updates.
When Cloud DVR was announced for Roku and Android, Sling TV mentioned that support for Apple TV was coming soon. Why not talk about your own device?
I’d like to hear from someone who has used a competing live TV service like PS Vue or fuboTV on AirTV.
I’ve read that you can download pretty much any app, but haven’t found anyone weighing in on actually using another live streaming service.
Yeah. I wonder if they will just not support the AirTv for very long if it doesn’t sell well. Hard to imagine the AirTV selling anywhere near Roku or other streaming boxes.
My use of the AirTv has been mixed. Apps like YouTube and Twitch work great. But Amazon Video is not available for it for some reason. It is fast, switching from an app to Sling is faster than on my Roku Premiere Plus. One bug I have discovered is sometimes after watching YouTube for awhile my local channels will disappear from the guide. Have to rescan or power it off and back on.
I love Sling cloud dvr on Roku. If they get that going for AirTv along with fixing the bugs and adding Amazon Video I would use it as my primary box.
The Cord Cutter says
Those are some very useful details — much more informative than many reviews out there for AirTV.
I was able to get Amazon Prime Video working on my AirTV boxes — I followed the “Install Amazon Prime Video Launcher” instructions at the following link: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-get-amazon-prime-video-on-your-android-tv-1779640753 It takes a little patience, but I got it to work.