Pay television provider DirecTV has started offering subscribers a new streaming dongle that could one day replace its Osprey set-top box, The Desk has learned.
The dongle, called Gemini Air, is powered by a version of Android that allows television viewers to access the streaming version of DirecTV (aptly called DirecTV Stream) alongside thousands of movie and TV show apps — including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus, Pluto TV and more — from a single device.
Gemini Air resembles similar Android TV dongles like the Chromecast with Google TV or TiVo Stream: It plugs into the back of a TV through its HDMI port, is powered by an AC adapter and comes bundled with a voice-powered remote control that leverages the power of the Google Assistant for search and discovery. The device is capable of streaming content in ultra-high definition (UHD) from supported apps like Netflix and YouTube, and will also support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos content.
Marketing material seen by The Desk shows the Gemini Air is being offered to 1,000 DirecTV Stream customers, with eligible subscribers receiving e-mails for the offer this week. Customers can’t order a Gemini Air device without the e-mail — they can’t be purchased at a retail store, and customer service agents can’t order one for a customer on their behalf (at least, not yet).
Public filings reviewed by The Desk show the Gemini Air has been in development since late last year, with DirecTV filing the term “Gemini Air” for protection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last November. Documents submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last December reveal the device is manufactured by South Korea-based Humax Company, with the dongle itself made in Vietnam.
Less clear is how much the Gemini Air streaming dongle will cost customers when it is available for sale. The current Osprey-branded set-top box costs $120 when customers sign up for DirecTV, though new subscribers can sometimes get these boxes for free with a multi-month commitment to the service.
The Desk has reached out to representatives at DirecTV about the new device and will provide more information as it becomes available.