DIY Low Cost Hot Wire Plastic Sheet Bending Tool

In this instructable, you will find information on how to build your own “hot wire plastic sheet bending tool” (thermoplieuse in french):

– theory (some)

– shopping list

– electrical design (power supply)

– mechanical design (tension spring, insulation)

– list of suitable plastics

– issues and solutions

– links to other tutorials

it’s not about hot wire foam cutting……

Step 1: Some Theory

How does it work?…

All thermoplastics go through two distinct phases as they are heated.

– ‘elastic’; the material is springy

– As the material is heated further though, it will become ‘plastic’: the material is soft and malleable, like dough, and can easily be formed.

The temperatures at which TP’s become elastic or plastic depend on the material type.

What is the best plastic?

Some TP’s have a large temperature range during which they are either elastic or plastic. This is useful for thermoforming like line bending.

Step 2: Design

    Safety first:

    1. Electricity

      As the wire is not electrically insulated, I don’t want any voltage above 12V or 24V.

      NO 230V

    2. Thermal issues:

      You have to protect your tool from excessive heat.

      Use aluminium sheets or recycle the inner insulation of the toaster or hair-dryer!

      Some have designed “water cooled” system. It’s not mandatory and expensive.

      A kit for personal computer water cooling is 80€.

    Step 3: Shopping List

    1 wooden plank

    40cm x 80cm 10mm th

    2 Hinges

    1 traction spring

    Heating element:

    you can find some Nichrome wire sellers

    – from Aliexpress or eBay

    32 AWG Ø0.2m 10 meter roll on aliexpress 3€50

    30 AWG Ø0.25mm

    26 AWG Ø0.4mm

    24 AWG Ø0.5mm

    but I recommand you to recycle for free an old and broken device, such as

    – a toaster

    – a hair dryer: mine is from a 1000W hair dryer. I got around 4 meters of Ø0.5mm wire

    keep the insulated sheets!

    Power Supply:

    @12V, the wire goes red in the dark. Ammeter says 2.5 A

    You can recycle a laptop computer power supply (from 12V to 18V or 24V).

    Step 4: Hair Dryer Nichrome Wire

    You just have to cut a 50cm wire length

    and unbend it manually.

    Step 5: Building the Board

    For a lighter weight, I didn’t sandwich 2 planks like others tutorial (it’s useless and heavier)

    Instead, I have cut some wedges:

    2 thin wedges for the ends

    1 larger for the middle and cut into 2 pieces to broaden to 50cm in order to fix the heating wire and spring.

    Step 6: U Bar and Hinge

    I place

    Step 7:

    Be careful to center the wire in the middle of the U

    Be careful to level the wire just below the surface: it should never touch directly the plastic sheet!

    Step 8: How to Bend

    for 3mm thick sheet, I needed 90 sec to heat it

    if you want to prevent some parts from being heated:

    – use a wet fabric

    – use the insulation sheet materiel you found in the hair drier: it’s very efficient!

    Step 9: Design

    Power supply design

    Ohm law / Power

    the current will be calculated in order to reach the needed temperature

    let’s have a look on the plastic specification: what are the plastic range temperatures?

    Mechanical design:

    distance from plastic surface

    The wire should be very close to the plastic sheet BUT not touching it!

    Be sure to design a mount that ensure that.


    Warning: wire will elongate when heated up.

    In order to keep a constant tension on it, use a spring at one end.

    You may want to have an adjustment of the width around the heating wire

    Step 10: Plastic Sheets Selection

    List of thermoplastics:

    Like PC,

    cast and extruded PMMA,






    and PP .…

    Polycarbonate sheets are softened along a narrow

    line by a strip heater, usually a hot wire. When the shaping temperature is reached, not below 155°C (maximum temperature 167°C)

    Step 11: Issues

    Bubbles: All plastics absorb moisture to varying degrees. When a thermoplastic is heated, internal moisture turns into steam and expand in bubbles.

    In plastics that have mostly elastic windows, this has no effect, as the tensility of the material resists the pressure of the steam bubbles. However in plastics that have mostly plastic windows, the steam causes the moisture bubbles to expand and where the bubbles are near the surface they may burst, forming blisters, ruining the surface quality of the sheet.

    Hygroscopic TP need pre-drying.

    Ends overheating:

    The ends of a bend line can receive more heat because the edge gets heated as well as the surface.

    Some TP’s may need ‘shielding’ with pieces of scrap material at either end of the bend line, to prevent overheating and damage the ends of the bend.

    Step 12:

    Step 13: Links



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    This new autonomous startup has designed its delivery robot to conquer winter

    Refraction, a new autonomous delivery robot company that came out of stealth Wednesday at TC Sessions: Mobility, sees opportunity in areas most AV startups are avoiding: regions with the worst weather.

    The company, founded by University of Michigan professors Matthew Johnson-Roberson and Ram Vasudevan, calls its REV-1 delivery robot the “Goldilocks of autonomous vehicles.”

    The pair have a long history with autonomous vehicles. Johnson-Roberson got his start by participating in the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2004 and stayed in academia researching and then teaching robotics. Vasudevan’s career had a stint at Ford working on control algorithms for autonomous operations on snow and ice. Both work together at University of Michigan’s Robotics Program.

    The REV-1 is lightweight and low cost — there are no expensive lidar sensors on the vehicle — it operates in a bike lane and is designed to travel in rain or snow, Johnson-Roberson, co-founder and CEO of Refraction told TechCrunch.

    The robot, which debuted onstage at the California Theater in San Jose during the event, is about the size of an electric bicycle. The REV-1 weighs about 100 pounds and stands about 5 feet tall and is 4.5 feet long. Inside the robot is 16 cubic feet of space, enough room to fit four or five grocery bags.

    It’s not particularly fast — top speed is 15 miles per hour. But because it’s designed for a bike lane, it doesn’t need to be. That slower speed and lightweight design allows the vehicle to have a short stopping distance of about five feet.

    Refraction has backing from eLab Ventures and Trucks Venture Capital.

    Consumers have an appetite and an expectation for on-demand goods that are delivered quickly. But companies are struggling to find consistent, reliable and economical ways to address that need, said Bob Stefanski, managing director of eLab Ventures.

    Stefanksi believes Refraction’s sturdy, smaller-sized delivery robots will allow for faster technology development and will be able to cover a larger service area than competitors operating on the sidewalk.

    “Their vehicles are also lightweight enough to deploy more safely than a self-driving car or large robot,” Stefanski noted. “The market is huge, especially in densely populated areas.”

    The REV-1 uses a system of 12 cameras as its primary sensor system, along with radar and ultrasound sensors for additional safety.

    “It doesn’t make sense economically speaking to use a $10,000 lidar to deliver $10 of food,” Johnson-Roberson said. By skipping the more expensive lidar sensor, they’re able to keep the total cost of the vehicle to $5,000.

    The company’s first test application is with local restaurant partners. The company hopes to lock in bigger national partnerships in the next six months. But don’t expect those to be in the southwest or California, where so many other autonomous vehicle companies are testing.

    “Other companies are not trying to run in the winter here,” Johnson-Roberson said. “It’s a different problem than the one that others are trying to solve, so we hope that gives us some space to breathe and some chance to carve out some opportunity.”

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    Microsoft’s Cloud-Only Xbox Still In Development, Report Says

    Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at and keep reading!

    XBox (Games)





    Microsoft’s Cloud-Only Xbox Still In Development, Report Says (



    from the currently-in-the-works dept.

    According to Thurrott’s Brad Sams, Microsoft is still developing a low-cost, cloud-based Xbox console. “Sams suggests the low-power box will be just capable enough to allow a player to ‘move around in a virtual environment,’ but crucially, game elements like NPCs, interactables, text and even graphics won’t be there,” reports VG247. From the report: This is obviously not playable, but the idea is that having movement calculations run locally reduces input lag compared to a 100% streamed game. Though this might make technical sense, it’s hard to imagine the company pushing this hard unless the difference is really perceptible. Of course, there’s a lot we still don’t know about the streaming market, and some segment of that audience may opt to pay $80 or so to get an experience better than running the game through a web browser.

    Life is a whim of several billion cells to be you for a while.


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    Identify Fake News With the ‘Bad News’ Web Game PSP Hacks

    Illustration for article titled Identify Fake News With the 'Bad News' Web Game

    Last year we told you about Bad News, a web game that teaches you about misinformation by putting you in the role of a trolling media tycoon. Now, the game’s creators have evidence that the game works as a “vaccine” against misinformation—and they’ve created a simplified version for kids.

    I played through Bad News for the first time today. It’s simple—you just get to choose between a few options at each step, and it only takes a few minutes to get through the whole game—but it’s based on a very smart premise. Instead of being told how to spot misinformation, you implement strategies to create it.

    I started by choosing a name for my media outlet, Honest Truth Online. Then the game guided me through faux-tweeting appeals to emotion, believable conspiracy theories, and attacks on people who tried to debunk me. At the beginning and end of the game, you have an option to take a short quiz, rating the reliability of a handful of in-game tweets.

    At the beginning, I was skeptical: a lot of these tweets and headlines could be true; how was I to know? By the end, I was clicking “unreliable” for most of them, since they clearly employed some of the strategies I’d been using in the game: impersonation, appeals to emotion, polarizing an issue, and more. So, I guess you could say it worked.

    That’s how most people reacted, according to a study published this week authored by the game’s creators. The in-game tweets meant to simulate real news had similar credibility ratings whether players saw them before or after the game, but the ones meant to be manipulative got lower ratings after people played. In other words, the game seems to work.

    The game is now available in more languages, and there’s also a kids’ version, meant for ages eight to 10. I asked my nine-year-old to play, and the game put him in charge of a fictional school website. At the game’s urging, he spread a lie that the school was going to bring puppies to class, and he fanned the flames of a rumor about a video game ban. It didn’t surprise him that people might lie, he told me afterward, but he never really thought about it in terms of manipulating crowds of people for fun and profit. Here’s hoping he uses that knowledge for good and not for evil.

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    Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi partners with NBC News for a daily news show aimed at millennials PSP Hacks

    NBC News today announced an exclusive partnership with Jeffrey Katzenberg’s upcoming mobile streaming service, Quibi, which will see the media company becoming the first major producer for the service’s “Daily Essentials” news programming, aimed at millennial viewers. As part of the deal, NBC will produce both a six-minute morning and evening news show for the service. The programming will air seven days a week and feature dedicated news hosts as well as original news content.

    This is not the first time NBC News has targeted millennial viewers in particular. The company also runs a Snapchat news show called Stay Tuned that reaches millions, and it just launched its own digital streaming news network, NBC News Now, which is delivered through its NBC app.

    NBC News Now will also power the breaking news coverage for Quibi, says NBC.

    However, the deal is not just about repurposing NBC’s existing news content for a new platform. Instead, NBC will build out a full production team exclusively for the Quibi programming, while also providing access to NBC News resources and technical support.

    In addition, the Quibi news show will be filmed in a custom-built studio in 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, and will be staffed by morning and evening news hosts and dedicated correspondents.

    “NBC News’ worldwide reach brings in millions of viewers across its many platforms, and we are excited to work with them to deliver an innovative new way for millennials to get news in a format that fits into their lives,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, Quibi founder and chairman of the board, in a statement. “NBC News’ powerful original reporting for Quibi will take viewers around the world in six minutes and provide them with the important stories they care about at the start and end of each day.”

    Quibi had earlier discussed some of its ideas about programming, including its concept for short-form news and sports.

    The mobile-only streaming service is due to launch in April 2020, and has recently issued a steady stream of content announcements as more deals fall into place.

    Some of the highlights include commitments from filmmakers Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro and Antoine Fuqua and producer Jason Blum to create series for the service, plus a show called “Inspired By” with Justin Timberlake.

    There also will be a show about Snapchat’s founding, an action-thriller starring Liam Hemsworth, a murder mystery comedy from SNL’s Lorne Michaels, a beauty docuseries from Tyra Banks, a Steven Spielberg horror show, a comedy from Thomas Lennon, a car-stunt series with Idris Elba, and more.

    Quibi’s idea is to produce higher-quality programming than what you’d find from the creator community YouTube, but distributed in a way that resonates with a younger audience — that is, shorter segments optimized for mobile viewing. These “quick bites” of content are also how Quibi got its odd name.

    It’s at the very least a unique idea in a market now teeming with subscription video services, with launches from WarnerBros (HBO+), Apple and Disney still on the way.

    That said, most subscription video today is still watched on the television’s big screen, not on mobile devices. Quibi’s emphasis on being an “on-the-go” app may not quite work in the end, given the competition for users’ time and attention from social apps and games that are often our go-to time-fillers these days when we have a few minutes to spare. Even if Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok aren’t direct Quibi rivals because of their vast differences in content and business models, they still eat up a ton of people’s downtime — while commuting, waiting in line or taking a break from work, for example.

    Quibi believes that younger people will launch its app instead in order to catch up with favorite shows. That’s a challenge that will require more than just good content — and it remains to be seen how Quibi will address this.

    But with $2 billion in funding, $100 million in pre-launch ad revenue commitments and Katzenberg at the helm, it’s too soon to count Quibi out yet.

    Update: 6/17/19 Per Quibi, Kobe Bryant’s show, “Under the Gun,” (more here) is not on the current slate and has been removed from the original article.

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    Mozilla readies launch of news subscription service PSP Hacks

    Way back in February, Mozilla announced an upcoming collaboration with Scroll aimed at finding a way to help fund news outlets. The organization appears ready to finally launch to the service, sending users a survey, along with invites to an upcoming beta launch of what it calls “Firefox Ad-free Internet.”

    The service is one of countless third-party platforms aimed at helping ailing publications find a way to better monetize in an an era of defunding, when journalistic voices are more important than ever. The Apple News offering is probably the most notable in the category, but Mozilla’s offering provides an interesting alternative to a standalone app.

    The Firefox version essentially provides a way to bring users ad-free access to their favorite publications by paying an upfront fee of $5 a month. Per Mozilla:

    The service enables web users to pay for an ad-free experience on their favorite sites, across their devices. By enabling more direct funding of publishers, Scroll’s model may offer a compelling alternative in the ecosystem. We will be collaborating with Scroll to better understand consumer attitudes and interest towards an ad-free experience on the web as part of an alternative funding model.

    BuzzFeed, Gizmodo Media, Slate, The Atlantic and USA Today all seem to be on board with the offering ahead of launch.

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    Wayfair Walkout, Facebook Data Value, and More News PSP Hacks

    Tech employees are taking a stand against migrant detention centers; a proposal asking tech companies to disclose the value of your data; and a live reading of the Mueller report. Here’s the news you need to know, in two minutes or less.

    Want to receive this two-minute roundup as an email every weekday? Sign up here!

    Today’s Headlines

    Wayfair employees are walking out

    This afternoon, 550 employees at the Boston-based ecommerce company Wayfair staged a walkout opposing sale of company furniture to migrant detention centers. Last week, Wayfair workers discovered an order for $200,000 worth of beds and other furniture reportedly placed by government contractor BCFS for a new detention center in Carrizo Springs, Texas. Wayfair allegedly also sold furniture to a second BCFS facility in Tornillo, Texas. Employee protesters requested the company provide a code of ethics for sales that “empowers Wayfair and its employees to act in accordance with our core values.” These demands add to the swelling cries of tech workers across the country expressing concerns about how and where their work is used.

    Senators want Facebook to put a price on your data

    They’re making how much? On Monday, Senator Mark Warner announced a proposal to demand that tech companies tell users the value of their data (which he generously assessed at about $5 a month). While the policy would allow better privacy control and agency for users, how companies would actually disclose data value is a bit of a head-scratcher: There’s no benchmark to value crude numbers for bits and bytes.

    Cocktail Conversation

    A-listers including Kevin Kline, Annette Bening, and John Lithgow gathered Monday night at Riverside Church in New York for a staged reading of the Mueller report. Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Robert Shenkkan adapted the 448-page document on Russian interference in the 2016 election to a one-hour (streamable) spectacle. In her review, WIRED’s Emily Dreyfuss writes, “The Investigation was like what would happen if the members of your mom’s secret #muellerreport Facebook group all got fabulous new haircuts and then livestreamed their group chat.”

    WIRED Recommends: Best Multiplayer Games

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    Meet RoboBee X-Wing: A solar-powered robot bee.

    This daily roundup is available via newsletter. You can sign up right here to make sure you get the news delivered fresh to your inbox every weekday!

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    Star Wars News: ‘Rise of Skywalker’ Reshoots Are Happening, Apparently PSP Hacks

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which will include these two very cute little droids, hits theaters December 20.


    It is, as the saying goes, a dark time for the Rebellion—and for everyone else involved in the Star Wars franchise, as things are astonishingly quiet out there right now. Could it be that the silence persists because everyone is working on projects in the lull between Star Wars Celebration and D23? Perhaps the looming shadow of Comic-Con International in San Diego is soaking up the conversation in the nerd sphere. Or maybe, there’s just … nothing to actually talk about right now when it comes to Star Wars. Well, nothing aside from the news below, of course.

    The Rise of Skywalker Reshoots Are On

    Source: Multiple online outlets

    Probability of accuracy: It would certainly appear to be true, and definitely checks out in terms of timeline before the movie gets released.

    The real deal: Apparently, additional shoots are underway for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, with a couple of sources reporting that Black Park in the UK has been closed off for either reshoots or pickups, with an X-wing fighter being part of the additional shots. Apparently, there’s a notice that the shoot might continue through early September, which feels unexpectedly late considering the movie is scheduled to hit theaters in December. If true, expect some very late nights for editors and the visual effects team. But don’t worry about the movie having reshoots this late in the game; these days, such things are common, so this is unlikely to be some kind of Rogue One situation where the entire movie gets significantly changed after the first pass at production.

    Expect an Unexpected Adventure In Rise

    Source: Rey herself, Daisy Ridley

    Probability of accuracy: This is vague enough to be easily explained away in multiple directions depending on what the finished movie is like, but let’s go with “accurate” for now.

    The real deal: Daisy Ridley, who’s currently doing press for her appearance in Ophelia, has been teasing the upcoming Rise of Skywalker in the vaguest of terms, telling USA Today, “Genre-wise, it’s different from the other two [installments Ridley has appeared in], which will become clear when the film comes out. It’s quite emotional. There’s a different drive than the previous two films, but there’s a lot of fun. I really missed John [Boyega] during the last one, but we’re back together, and now Oscar [Isaac] is part of it. To me, it felt like kids going on an adventure.” This lines up with previous statements made by director J.J. Abrams and others about the tone of the movie, and also rumors that Rey, Finn, and Poe would spend the majority of the movie together. Now, if only we could find out more about the rest of the movie.

    The Throne Room Duel Was Just a Warm-Up for Rey and Kylo

    Source: Once again, Daisy Ridley

    Probability of accuracy: We’ll have to wait until the movie’s out to know for sure, but it sounds pretty credible right now.

    The real deal: Elsewhere, Ridley is now confirming that, yes, the lightsaber fight between Rey and Kylo Ren wasn’t just something staged for a Vanity Fair photo shoot, but is an important part of the finished movie itself. “We have a great fight,” she said on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “A great fight. And I was really happy that the Vanity Fair pictures did show a bit of it. It’s a great fight. Like I’ve become such a better fighter, and they made the lightsabers lighter, so it actually looks like we’re swinging light and not like heavy, heavy [blades] … It feels really epic, and it felt epic even at the time.” This suggests that those hoping for a redemptive story arc for Kylo Ren might end up just a little disappointed by what’s onscreen this December. (Mind you, Return of the Jedi did have a very last minute about-face for its central villain, so who can tell?)

    The Worlds of Rise of Skywalker Are Hot and … Pretty Blurry, Actually

    Source: Anonymous sources providing blurry photographs, it seems

    Probability of accuracy: We can’t even make out what’s in these images, how are we supposed to know if they’re accurate? (And accurate to … what?)

    The real deal: Underscoring just how quiet it is out there in the Star Wars universe, Making Star Wars made headlines with some very blurry, indistinct photos that may be concept art from the new movie. What can be gleaned from the images? Not much. They’re so unclear they could be almost anything, with even the report noting, “it would be an overstep to pretend we know what any of this stuff actually pertains to.” For what it’s worth, it appears to be images of an unknown location that, in some shots, appear to be covered in lava. Could this be where the Knights of Ren have been hanging out all these years, or some other hideaway relating to the First Order? One thing’s for sure, it certainly doesn’t look like somewhere the good guys want to be, wherever it is.

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    Amazon Prime Day 2019: Best Deals on Travel Gear

    Note: Amazon Prime Day sales have ended. If you are still hunting, we recommend you check out our favorite rival deals from Walmart and others. Many of those sales last through July 17. As always, we hope our Gear coverage helped you sift through the online madness and find great products.

    The word that best follows “summer” is “vacation.” If you’re planning to pair those two words for a classic American road trip this summer, take advantage of Amazon’s Prime Day to grab these travel essentials before you leave.

    Even if you don’t have epic plans to Kerouac your way around the nation, we all need more memory for our devices and can never have too many charging cables. Most of us have also wrestled with slow hotel Wi-Fi enough to appreciate the value of a good Ethernet dongle.

    If an item is no longer at its deal price or sold out, we cross it out. Deal prices sometimes return and items come back in stock faster than we can update, so it never hurts to check for yourself.

    Note: When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.

    WIRED’s Prime Day Coverage (Sale is Over)

    Chargers, Adapters, and Smart Plugs

    TP Link

    Life on the road sometimes means spotty access to power and networks. These power packs help you stock up on energy when it’s available so you have it when it’s not.

    Memory to Store Memories

    SanDisk 400 GB MicroSD card

    Memory isn’t all that exciting, but admit it, you can never have enough. This year’s Prime Day has some good deals on SD cards of all shapes and sizes, hard drives, and dual USB sticks. Expand the storage capacity of your phone, Twitch, or other device with these deals.

    Other Helpful Accessories

    Lifestraw water filter


    • LifeStraw Personal Water Filter (2-pack) for $25 ($14 off): Whether you’re camping, hiking, or traveling internationally, a light, small, portable, and packable water filter can save your life (or at least save you from a night or two of terrible tummy trouble). This is a great price for a water filter that doesn’t require any batteries and won’t make your water taste weird.

    • Trtl Travel Pillow 2-Pack for $43 ($12 off): Whether it’s on sale or not, the TRTL pillow is worth it, according to WIRED editor Arielle Pardes. It’s a great way to get some sleep on a plane.

    • BackBeat Pro 2 Noise Canceling Headphones for $132 ($68 off): The BackBeat Pro aren’t the absolute greatest noise cancelers on the market, but they have excellent battery life, silence some of that travel noise, and are wonderful to wear while you’re walking around. The earcups twist in a way that lets them rest comfortably on your shoulders when you take them off.

    • Kindle Paperwhite for $85 ($45 off): The Kindle Paperwhite lets you read at the pool, beach, and hotel bathtub without fear. The display is flush, and the device is rated IPX8, meaning it can sit in 2 meters of water for two hours. It also comes with three free months of Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s Netflix-style book subscription, and you get a $5 ebook credit. You can also get the standard Kindle for $60 ($30 off). Read more about the differences here.

    Check our Amazon Prime Day Page for more coverage and deals.

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    Dish’s AirTV launches an $80 streaming stick for accessing Sling TV, Netflix & broadcast channels

    Dish is expanding its hardware lineup today with the launch of a new 4K streaming stick, the AirTV Mini, designed to make it easier for cord cutters to access from one user interface its live TV service Sling TV, plus Netflix and over-the-air channels. The Android TV-powered device is meant to complement an existing setup that already includes an OTA digital antenna and an AirTV Wi-Fi-enabled network tuner, the company says.

    For a limited time, new and existing Sling TV customers can get the latter two items for free — an AirTV Wi-Fi-enabled network tuner and an indoor antenna — by prepaying for three months of Sling TV’s service.

    In addition, the AirTV Mini also includes support for 2×2 802.11AC Wi-Fi, a lost remote finder feature, support for Google Assistant and Google Play, as well as support for VP94K decoding, which allows you to watch YouTube or Netflix content in 4K.

    airtv mini

    The company has been offering streaming devices for a couple of years. Dish first unveiled its AirTV Player, a 4K media streamer set-top box, at CES 2017. In 2018, it expanded its hardware lineup to include a new device, just called the AirTV, a networked TV tuner that streams local programming via Wi-Fi.

    Despite the new AirTV Mini’s streaming stick form factor, it’s not meant to compete with rival streaming sticks like the low-cost Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku streaming stick or Chromecast in terms of price. Instead, it’s a $79.99 alternative to the $119.99 AirTV Player bundle — perhaps for someone who doesn’t care for the sort of Playskool-inspired design of the original streaming box, but still wants over-the-air channels, 4K support and easy access to Sling TV and Netflix.

    The remote for the Mini is improved as well, in a more typical shade of black instead of the AirTV Player’s white and blue design. It’s also a more standard length and width than the stubby and seemingly childish AirTV Player remote. And it still has dedicated buttons for Sling TV, Netflix and Google Assistant.

    row1 img large 2

    Through the remote, users can issue voice commands to control their TV experience. For example, you can use voice search to find favorite shows and movies, or say things like “go to guide,” “show me my DVR” or “rewind 10 seconds.”

    “The AirTV brand is committed to making local TV relevant and easily accessible to streamers,” said Mitch Weinraub, director of product development for AirTV, in a statement. “The AirTV Mini is a powerhouse streaming stick with more memory and a faster processor than anything else in the category. When combined with the AirTV network tuner and the Sling TV app, the Mini delivers a superior streaming experience, especially for Slingers who want premium features in a small package at an affordable price.”

    The audience for this sort of product — or any AirTV device, for that matter — is fairly niche. While there’s certainly some demand for access to over-the-air programming among cord cutters, there are other solutions that don’t lock you into Sling TV, specifically.

    For instance, you can easily switch to your connected antenna from a Roku TV or you could buy the (currently $179.99) Fire TV Recast, which offers a Fire TV interface plus access to stream and record from live TV with its built-in DVR. Neither the AirTV Mini nor the AirTV tuner come bundled with a DVR — you have to provide your own, and plug it into the tuner.

    Overall, the solution makes sense for DIY’ers who also subscribe to Sling TV and prefer a Google Assistant-powered experience instead of Alexa.

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