(Please note that I received a review unit in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.)
TL;DR review - The AirTV Player is an interesting choice when it comes to cutting the cord. Unlike every other device on the market, it doesn't have to be completely dependent on the internet to provide you with live entertainment choices, as it can directly receive OTA broadcasts. The hardware performs well, all things considered. However, the lack of RAM and storage, no DVR capability with broadcast TV, along with the lack of compatible apps in Google Play that are available on competing Android TV devices limit the appeal of this device at this time.
The AirTV Player by isn't the first Android TV device I've owned, but it's certainly the most promising to what the platform is capable of when it comes to being a media streamer. It's a very capable playback device, with 4k video output (likely HDR capable after an update). It supports a wide range of apps from the Google Play store, from additional video sources beyond what's included to games and a wide range of things in-between. It also does something no set-top box - and a growing number of TV sets - don't do - it functions as an over-the-air TV tuner, with or without a subscription to Sling's TV service.
First, the hardware. Inside the package, you'll find the AirTV Player, the remote, the AC adapter, the USB TV tuner, and a short USB extension cable (which you'll need). You'll also find a credit for $50 toward Sling TV service and instruction manual. Everything is packaged well and, other than a sticker that feels out of place, it has an Apple-like experience to opening the packaging.
Some of you may not like the aesthetic of the AirTV - white with light-blue trim and a dimly-glowing orangish light to indicate that it's powered on, I get that. Personally, I'm not a fan and would love to see it in black with a user-selectable color for the LED indicator. On the backside of the box, you'll find power, ethernet, 2 USB ports, HDMI, and optical audio output, the last of which is something that most competitors in the streaming media player space now lack and can be useful for those who either want to use this box as a target for audio playback (Chromecast, Pandora, Spotify, and others are supported either natively or with apps) or that have older home theater setups with receivers that lack HDMI and/or TVs that can't pass through Dolby Digital audio. One thing it's sorely lacking, and I'll get into that later, is a SD card slot; it could also benefit from additional USB ports. I also would like to see the power supply built into this device instead of the choice they went with (which can block outlets on some surge strips).
I'm also not a fan of the remote - white it's width and soft, rubbery texture feels good in my hand, the off-center buttons that control the device with a column on the left side for power/standby, volume, mute, and a button marked with a diamond that sends you to Android TV's home screen (not a very intuitive design choice, btw) is something that takes a bit to learn and get used to. It does have one feature that every remote with RF or Bluetooth connectivity should have, however - a remote finder function.
In terms of performance, The AirTV gets it in spite of its limitations - it's snappy through through the menu system, boots quickly, loads apps quickly, and doesn't seem to have too many problems streaming media (I tested using Netflix, Crackle, YouTube, and the Chromecast Receiver feature with 2.4GHz wireless N, 5GHz wireless AC, and a wired connection, and all performed very well). The box also has HDMI and two USB ports, one of which you'll lose to the USB-connected TV tuner (which happens to be manufacturer by Hauppauge - probably the best decision made with this entire hardware package). The best part of having a TV tuner that isn't integrated into the AirTV directly will become apparent when ATSC 3.0 starts hitting the airwaves; if Sling TV allows it, you'll be able to upgrade the tuner that comes with this box with a 4k-capable TV tuner as the next switchover occurs.
The limitations of the hardware are silly, however, especially for the price of this device - 1GB of RAM, a Cortex A53-based processor at 1.2GHz, and 8GB of internal storage (of which you only get 5GB as user storage). These stats would have been justifiable for the price two years ago, but even with the TV tuner included, this device is now more expensive than it should be.
Second, the software. I'm going to give you the perspective of someone who isn't interested in SlingTV, because I'm really not interested in the service. I will say though, that the AirTV Player is HEAVILY SLANTED towards subscribers of Sling TV's service; you could say it's the set-top box they've been waiting for. You can bypass the Sling app, but you'll have to disable it to do so as I haven't found any root exploits for this device yet that would allow you to change what it starts up with. (Maybe an option of starting in Leanback or Sling would be nice.)
Sling TV's software handles the TV tuner with the sort of ease that you'd expect it to. As you go through the channels, you'll find that it tunes as quickly as any TV set or digital TV tuner does. It also makes it easy to change through sub-channels; where TV sets and many digital TV tuners require that you punch in which subchannel you want (41.1, 41.2, etc) or they default to the now-defunct analog channel, you just highlight the channel you want and click the OK button. What's very surprising, however, is the lack of DVR functionality - recording, time-shifting (play/pause), and things of that nature. I would happily add an external hard drive to this box in order to pause live TV and make recordings, and if Sling offered upgraded tuners (2 or 4 channel) or compatibility to other USB and network tuners already on the market (Hauppauge and Silicone Dust units among others) along with room-to-room communication for these boxes to share DVR recordings (and possibly allow them to sync to devices or stream OTA away from home) they would have a real alternative to competing services like DirecTV's Genie, Comcast's X1, and other multi-room DVR services that cost far more for the monthly fee.
Android TV proves itself to be great once again in my eyes. Though a Nougat update has been promised, this box shipped with Marshmallow. While it doesn't feel as snappy overall as Nougat on my Sony XBR850C, it's still fairly quick and easy to use. Bluetooth pairing is straight-forward and supports most standard Bluetooth devices. I'll add a reply to this review when Nougat finally hits.
The disappointing things are the apps that work with my Sony TV but don't work with the AirTV Player, the biggest one being Amazon Video. Also, the aforementioned lack of USB ports and storage options isn't great, especially since the 8GB of built-in storage can be filled very quickly with apps and games (which many of you will undoubtedly add to this box). The current lack of HDR video output is also disappointing; after doing some research, this is a hardware limitation. The Play Store software issues will sort themselves out as more developers test and certify this device runs their apps.
All in all, the AirTV player, for me, is a start toward something good. However, it's needing a hardware refresh at this point because for what you're getting, you're paying too much for the hardware.
I can only recommend this to friends that use Sling TV service. If you want Android TV as your smart TV platform, either go with a Sony TV set or there is a competing Android TV box from another manufacturer with similar performance and half the cost.