Friday, May 14, 2021

Air TV

I replaced my TiVo devices with a couple of options. I manage TV at two locations and I put Tablo TV at one and Air TV at the other. Why? Well, both are great options. You remember my recommendation that either would be a good replacement for TiVo?

They're both great. They work a lot alike, but have some small differences.

Which one would I recommend? Well, I'd say check for special deals on service bundles. If you already use Sling TV, go with AirTV. If you don't, go with whichever you can get a better deal on. You'll be happy whichever way you go.

I truly meant that. And I went with both. But today, I'm going to talk about Air TV. I'll deal with Tablo TV later.

Hooking up an Air TV device is pretty simple. Or it seems so. There are actually several options that can impact how you do it, and I'll talk about those, and about what options I chose and why.

Here's how Air TV works. You hook up an antenna to the Air TV device. You add the Air TV device to your network. You watch the content through the Sling TV app, and no you do not need a subscription.

That seems fairly simple, right? Well, yes, but there are some options you have, and that can complicate things. So let's work through it and come up with the best decision for you.

First, you really need to figure out where to put two things: your Air TV device itself, and the antenna.

If you use an indoor antenna, make sure it can pick up a good signal. I went with an outdoor antenna because I'm far enough away from TV towers that it's really the best decision for me. If you're close enough that an indoor antenna will do the job, great. If not, it becomes a little more complicated.

Where should you put your Air TV device? Well, you really should put it close to your router. It would be better if you can connect the Air TV device to your network by Ethernet cable. If you can, and if you can place an antenna close by, then that's the way to go.

If it's hard to put an antenna near your router, you need to determine if you can run an antenna lead/cable far enough to reach, or if you have to connect your Air TV device to the network wirelessly.

You always want to use Ethernet connectivity if you can. Air TV supports wireless connectivity, but that's one additional connection that can go wrong and that would need to be checked if things don't work like you expect.

So, location of Air TV and antenna? Close to the router, if possible. If not, do the best you can and connect Air TV wirelessly.

Once you do that, you use the Sling TV app to set up the connection and the TV channels using the "Over the Air Channels" selection under Settings. Scan the channels and follow the prompts. It's really easy.

Using Air TV is easy, too. You launch the Sling TV app and the antenna channels show up with the rest of the stuff. You don't need a Sling TV subscription. It works with Sling TV free, and of course, with the subscription service. It's as if the local channels were part of Sling TV's package.

What about DVR? Well, that depends on a couple of things. Currently there are two major Air TV devices: Air TV 2 ($100) and Air TV Anywhere ($200). I went with Air TV Anywhere. The differences?

  • Air TV 2 has two tuners, while Air TV Anywhere has four.
  • Air TV 2 required a separate USB hard drive to be able to record and store DVR content, while Air TV Anywhere has a 1 TB drive built in.

That's really it. If you don't need but two tuners, and you have your own USB hard drive already, you can save money with Air TV 2.

There is another device called Air TV Mini, but that's actually a limited streaming device, not something to which you can connect an antenna. Your options are Air TV 2 and Air TV Anywhere.

How well does it work? It works okay. There are a couple of things that are an irritant. Every so often, not that often, but occasionally, the stream will buffer. This happens mostly on the hard-to-get stations. However, it also happens on DVR playback. If it was recorded that way, I'd understand, but it happens on content that was recorded without issue.

I've played content back and tested the playback when that happens. I've rewound the content and played that section of the recording again and it didn't buffer there. So, that tells me it's the playback that has issues, not the recording.

That tells me that my network isn't always running at 100% efficiency. Or maybe it's my Sling TV app. Or maybe the Air TV Anywhere device can't keep up.

And that's one of the things about streaming. You do have the occasional issue and it's not always so simple to determine the cause. A lot of people automatically assume it's one thing, when it's actually something else.

What's the problem with using Air TV? Nothing really. It works fine. It does what I bought it to do. And I stand by my recommendation.

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