AirTV, a subsidiary of Dish that’s focused on products for pay TV cord-cutters, has released a “Local Channels DVR” beta for the Android TV-powered AirTV Player that enables users to record shows from over-the-air broadcast TV channels.
The free beta, open to all AirTV Player customers, requires that customers purchase and connect an external storage device to record OTA channels from broadcasters such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. That feature adds to Sling TV’s in-app Cloud DVR service. Dish’s Sling TV OTT TV service has been integrated with the AirTV Player, a product that was introduced in January 2017, but a subscription to Sling TV is not required for the Local Channels DVR offering.
The beta for the AirTV Player also includes an integrated DVR menu, with recorded OTA content appearing in the same menu as Sling TV Cloud DVR recordings. AirTV Player users can record one show at a time and set single-episode or series recordings via the menu.
The DVR beta is emerging as Dish’s AirTV unit faces off with competitors, including Channel Master, Nuvyyo/Tablo and TiVo, that have also developed OTA/OTT combo devices tailored for cord-cutters.
AirTV recommends several storage devices, such as the SanDisk Ultra 128 GB Thumb Drive, SanDisk Cruzer Glide 64 GB and 128 GB Thumb Drive, Western Digital My Passport or Easy Store 1 TB Hard Drive, and Seagate Expansion 500 GB Hard Drive. AirTV also notes that while USB thumb drives work for recording and playback, a hard drive is recommended for “optimal performance.”
AirTV also lists out several limitations for the new DVR beta. Among them, recordings are not playable until the program has completely finished recording (though users can continue to each the channel live as the recording is being made); recordings canceled before completion of the program will not be saved to the DVR; and recordings are only viewable via the AirTV Player where the recordings were made (i.e. they can’t be transferred to another device or played back on another AirTV Player), and rescanning for local channels will also remove all future recordings.
"AirTV continuously pushes to meet consumer demand for a better cord cutting and OTA experience," Mitch Weinraub, director of product development for AirTV, said in a statement. “With the introduction of Local Channels DVR and the existing Sling TV Cloud DVR on AirTV Player, customers can now watch and record both OTA and OTT programs, imitating traditional pay-TV for a fraction of the cost."
Update: Dish confirmed that the new DVR beta program is only for the AirTV Player, and not for a newer AirTV box that was soft-launched late last year that lets users access and stream OTA TV channels in and out of the home.