Tag Archives | Slingbox

One New Slingbox Caters to the Masses, the Other to High-End Users

Slingbox M1

Slingbox M1

When it debuted back in 2005, the original Slingbox–which let you pipe your TV signal at home over the Internet to a distant computer or smartphone–helped invent the whole idea that you might be able to watch your favorite programs anywhere. After being bought by satellite-TV hardware company EchoStar, however, Slingbox went a long time without changing much–until two new models showed up in the fall of 2012.

Now Slingbox is changing again. The two new models–the Slingbox M1 and SlingTV–are close relatives of the low-end and high-end models from 2012, the Slingbox 350 and Slingbox 500, respectively. But the M1 aims to be even more of a mass-market gadget than the 350, and SlingTV adds more features to the already-fancy 500.

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What’s Next For SlingPlayer Mobile (iPad!)

I recently checked in with my former Sling peeps, regarding mobile clients. Specifically, codecs and resolution. As we know, a Slingbox Android client is on tap this summer. And I wondered if they’re sticking with WMV video streaming or moving to H.264 for this platform. While I wasn’t able to get a definitive answer on Android from Mobile Product Marketing Manager, Dave Eyler, I have learned they’re “actively moving towards H.264″ – which requires the newer, more capable placeshifters (think SOLO or PRO-HD). Also, it’s really no surprise that they’ll be going the Silverlight route for Windows Phone 7.

In regards to resolution, I don’t don’t believe Sling Media has taken mobile client video resolutions beyond 320×240. By design, due to processing power, memory, bandwidth and battery life. But, here comes the iPad. And I don’t want a pixel-doubled iPhone SlingPlayer app on that large screen. Fortunately, Sling has confirmed they’re prepared to accommodate me with something a bit better, some day…

When it makes a noticeable difference in quality, we will definitely provide higher resolution streaming.  The iPad is a good example of a device where we are hard at work on this, but unfortunately it won’t be there at the April launch.

(This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)

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3G SlingPlayer for iPhone. Finally!

Way back in June of 2008, Sling Media began showing off a version of its SlingPlayer software–which works with the company’s SlingBox gadget to route TV across the Internet–for the iPhone. It took another eleven months until the app went on sale. And when it did, it turned out that AT&T had prohibited Sling from letting it work over the 3G network. You could watch your TV from your iPhone, but only over Wi-Fi. At the time, I wrote:

Maybe I’m a wild-eyed optimist, but I’m hoping that Sling will eventually be permitted to add 3G support, and that those of us who have paid thirty bucks for this first version will get free upgrades.

Then I sort of forgot about the whole thing, since I rarely used the Wi-Fi version of the app. (In fact I stopped using my SlingBox much, period–I still can’t figure out why the iPhone version was verboten but the Windows Mobile one was OK..) But I hadn’t hoped in vain. Today, AT&T and Sling issued a joint press release saying that the 3G version of the app now passes muster. It’ll be available (and a free upgrade to existing customers) once Apple approves it.

“Just as we’ve worked with Sling Media in this instance, we look forward to collaborating with other developers so that mobile customers can access a wider, more bandwidth-sensitive, and powerful range of applications in the future,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “Collaboration with developers like Sling Media ensures that all apps are optimized for our 3G network to conserve wireless spectrum and reduce the risk that an app will cause such extreme levels of congestion that they disrupt the experience of other wireless customers. Our focus continues to be on delivering the nation’s most advanced mobile broadband experience and giving our customers the widest possible array of mobile applications.”

Good news, even if the process moved at a glacial pace. Presumably there are some interesting possibilities for video applications that developers didn’t even bother to consider after Sling was forced to hobble the original version of SlingPlayer. Now writing them won’t seem like a pointless exercise.

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New Slingbox Goodies Coming to CES

Beyond the WiFi-only iPhone Slingbox client, neutered by Apple and AT&T, it’s been a very quiet year for Sling. No new retail products. Insignificant firmware and software updates to existing products. And fire sale SlingCatcher pricing. Combined with near radio silence, I figured EchoStar has been winding down the Sling line. However, all is not lost, as I received this CES invite earlier today which promises:

You’ll experience an up close view of Sling’s new placeshifting products including WiFi television, ultra-slim Slingboxes, and a next-generation touch screen device.

Of course, a WiFi television was shown at CES last year (pic above). Where it was pitched as a DISH Network accessory for Echostar’s yet-to-be-released “SlingLoaded” VIP 922 Echostar DVR. If I had to guess, that touchscreen device similarly accessorizes the 922 — as a Sonos-esque remote controller. I’m not entirely opposed to a slimmed-down Slingbox, but noticeably absent from this pitch is reference to a next generation Catcher… that lives up to its billing. Stay tuned, as I intend to find out more (with pics) next week in Vegas.

(This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)

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SlingPlayer for iPhone–Cool. And Crippled!

SlingPlayer for iPhoneBack before I had an iPhone, I owned an AT&T Tilt phone. I ran the Windows Mobile version of SlingPlayer on it to watch my TiVo back home from my phone, courtesy of the Slingbox in my entertainment center. It worked wonderfully well over the AT&T network, and when I bought an iPhone 3G and put the Tilt into retirement, losing SlingPlayer was one of the few ways in which becoming an iPhone user wasn’t a major upgrade to my mobile life.

Today, eleven months after Sling announced it was working on SlingPlayer for iPhone, the app showed up in the iPhone App Store. In many ways, the iPhone was born to run SlingPlayer–video looks great on its sizable screen, and the software makes excellent use of a touch-driven user interface that pops up only when you need it.


Apple only accepted the application after Sling removed the ability to watch video over the iPhone’s cell connection. Unlike other incarnations of SlingPlayer Mobile, it’s Wi-Fi only.  Still a neat application, but one that won’t work in many of the places where I used to enjoy the Windows Mobile version, such as airport gates and my car.

(Clarification: It would work at airports, but I’d have to pay for the Wi-Fi in most places. And no, I don’t watch TV while driving…but I did used to call on SlingPlayer Mobile’s audio-only option, which both the Windows Mobile and iPhone versions offer.)

Apple isn’t saying why it forced SlingPlayer to go Wi-Fi only. But even if it had 3G access, using it would violate AT&T’s terms of service, which were recently rewritten to prohibit rerouting of a TV signal to a mobile computer. AT&T says that apps like SlingPlayer would simply hog too much precious bandwidth if it permitted them; the rule seems kinda arbitrary, considering that there are multiple iPhone apps that stream full-length video programming, such as CBS’s TV.com. And is AT&T busting folks who use SlingPlayer Mobile versions for other platforms?

On one level, I get AT&T’s concern–hey, its 3G network seems to clog up easily even without people streaming TV from their Slingboxes. But the release of a fundamentally crippled version of SlingPlayer for the iPhone is a sobering reminder that today’s wireless networks aren’t capable of supporting everything that we’d like to do with them, and the problem will only get worse as millions of people buy smartphones such as the iPhone. And it leaves me wondering whether any upcoming iPhone version of Hulu–which is, in many ways, a SlingPlayer-like service that doesn’t require a Slingbox–is going to be similarly dumbed down.

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone and iPod Touch is $29.99–the same price as other versions, but the most I’ve paid for an iPhone app by a factor of about 3X, and pricey given that it doesn’t do the one thing that many Slingbox owners would like it to. Maybe I’m a wild-eyed optimist, but I’m hoping that Sling will eventually be permitted to add 3G support, and that those of us who have paid thirty bucks for this first version will get free upgrades.

After the jump, some screenshots of iPhone SlingPlayer in action (and I repeat–except for the network restriction, this is a nicely-done application).

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5Words for March 27th, 2009

5wordsTech stuff, exciting and new:

iPhone SlingPlayer: Cross your fingers!

iPhone Skype’s due soon, too.

How Google could go wrong.

Arrrgh: Tech-company layoffs galore.

Netflix adds new personalization features.

Apple sells contract-free iPhones.

Yes, stars use Twitter ghostwriters.

College computer labs are obsolete.

Eee PC gets optical disc.

Apple announces developer conference dates.

A no-tech hour? Naw.

Get more out of Craiglists.

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What’s Up With Sling? Five Execs to Leave

slinglogoCalling it an exodus would be pretty accurate. Five top executives of Sling Media have decided to leave the company, seemingly triggered by the expiration of an agreement to keep the executive team there after DISH’s acquisition of the company a little over a year ago.

For all intents and purposes this leaves Sling without any executive direction, save for those higher up in DISH. It’s a shame too — I really do not see a future for Sling as a standalone product without Blake at the helm.

No doubt, within a few years Sling will only be a feature in DISH boxes. It’s already happening as the company plans to add the functionality to its DVRs in the near future.

PaidContent was first with the news, and got an interview with Blake on his decision to step away from the company. “I’m out of there now. I want to just cut it … it’s best just to get it done because it’s not easy. It’s like a break up but it’s time to get on. It’s bittersweet, for sure.”

One has to wonder what exactly was going on behind the scenes. No transition period? It’s two founders just walking out the door? Something tells me that it wasn’t on very good terms… call it a educated guess.

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SlingPlayer Mobile: Coming Soon to an iPhone Near You

slinglogoSling Media’s Slingbox TV place-shifting box was meant to hook up with the iPhone. (Which is a self-serving thing of me to say–I own a Slingbox and an iPhone, and one of the things I miss about my old AT&T Tilt phone is the ability to watch stuff stored on my TiVo back home on it.) So I’m tickled that Sling is demoing an iPhone edition of its SlingPlayer Mobile software this week at Macworld Expo. It says it’ll finish it up by the end of this quarter. I’m a little worried about just how quickly streaming live TV over the iPhone 3G’s Internet connection will drain my battery down to zero–but I’m still looking forward to getting my hands on it.

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