Dish Network has a new Android TV device on the way called the AirTV Mini.
The information on this comes from people who attended the 2019 DISH Team Summit in early May (via SatelliteGuys) and therefore, while the information is considered to be firm and directly from Dish, the company has not publicly announced the product as of yet.
However, there’s plenty of what is as good as confirmed info to delve into.
First of which is the form as unlike traditional Android TV solutions that typically either come packaged within a TV (or soundbar) or as part of a separate set-top box, this one is more akin to a dongle.
It is a dongle, and one not dissimilar to the likes of the Chromecast. The difference is it is a much more powerful device equipped with the full Android TV experience.
Arguably, a more powerful Android TV experience than what’s offered with a number of current devices as this seems to be a full 4K-ready unit. From launch it will support YouTube in full 4K.
Of course, with this being a Dish product it is sort of designed to get you using Sling TV and it does seem highly likely the device will boot into Sling TV each time. Although unlike some of the other devices that have come to market promoting a specific streaming service, this one does not look as though it will tie users down quite as much. For one thing, it does come with full access to the Google Play Store.
In addition, the remote control’s design, as well as the slide accompanying the leak (shown below) makes it clear that Netflix and YouTube (along with Sling TV) are all more naturally integrated with their own direct access/quick launch buttons.
This is as well as integrated Google Assistant.
It is not all roses though as the unit does make some compromises albeit ones that seem almost inherent to the stick form.
For example, those in attendance at the event explained the device does not contain a USB port and so there is no option to add an external drive or any other device you might connect over USB. This may prove to be a particular issue for those looking to record OTA channels as on the previous AirTV model the feature required an external hard drive to be connected.
Unlike the original model, it is understood there's no OTA support in general with this unit.
Likewise, at the software level there are some limitations, such as the absence of the “Remote Finder” feature. While not necessarily a major feature, it was one the company previously (and still does) used in marketing to help differentiate its product from similar devices by Roku and Amazon.
In terms of availability, there’s even relatively firm word on this. The new AirTV Mini is set to launch in June of this year and when it does, it will arrive priced at $79.99.
That makes it only slightly more expensive than the Xiaomi Mi Box, and not that far away in price from the Chromecast Ultra - Google’s own 4K casting device that retails for $69 in the U.S.
At this price, and certainly for those leaning towards Sling TV, this could be a useful product.