At Last, SlingPlayer 2.0! (neutered)

Dave Zatz —  August 7, 2008

Originally demo-ed at CES 2007, SlingPlayer 2.0 for Windows has finally been released (as a public beta).

Unfortunately, SP 2.0’s launch is most notable for what it lacks: Clip+Sling. Clip+Sling, plus the associated Sling.com video portal, was intended to allow Slingbox owners to capture and share memorable television segments online. However, Sling didn’t want to hold up delivery of the (other) new 2.0 functionality and interface while they continue to negotiate studio/network partnerships – such as the announced CBS and NHL deals. Hence, the neutered SlingPlayer 2.0 release. I’m not personally troubled by the continued delay and implied recording limitations, as I’m more interested in sharing my video game shenanigans rather than TV highlights… Something already available on Hulu.com for those who can’t wait.

So what does SP 2.0 offer? In terms of new features, the biggies are a 60 minute video buffer and EPG. The video buffer allows you to pause or scrub through playback, without the lag associated with remotely controlling a DVR. OR a major bonus for those without a DVR. And the EPG is exactly what it sounds like – an electronic program guide of your local television lineup. SlingPlayer 2.0 also sports a modern, refreshed UI that I find visually appealing. Though I wonder if some existing SlingPlayer 1.x users will find it a bit too minimalist – channel favorites buttons have been removed from the bezel and you can no longer click into the frameless video window mode.

A less obvious, but valuable service is the implementation of Sling Accounts. Instead of tracking an arcane and unique Slingbox Finder ID, your Slingbox is now associated with your email address (and a password). In the short term this is only being used within SlingPlayer 2.0, but I can imagine it becoming an efficient service to utilize via mobile clients and the upcoming SlingCatcher. In addition to storing to storing Slingbox IDs online, the Sling Account will also recall box location (think EPG) and guide favorites.

US and Canadian customers can find the SlingPlayer 2.0 for Windows download here. (In lieu of the programming guide, Canadians are offered a grid of channel favorite buttons.)

15 responses to At Last, SlingPlayer 2.0! (neutered)

  1. Some additional SP 2.0 polish: A new setup wizard and closed captioning – something rarely offered in the digital video realm. For a more in-depth look at the new software, check out the Sling Community.

    As nice as the EPG and buffer are, it seems like the natural evolution of this functionality would be PC-based recording… Pretty please? :) I also wish they’d deliver those Vista sidebar gadgets shown at CES 2007 – a very useful feature.

    FYI Sounds like a Mac SlingPlayer 2.0 is on the roadmap, though there’s no ETA.

  2. So with a Directv DVR and the new Sling Player I can pause something for 2 1/2 hours. Why I’d want to is another issue.

  3. Trust me, local pausing and scrubbing is MUCH nicer than trying to use the DVR STB controls while dealing with the Internet round trip and encoding lag.

  4. I agree 100% with you Dave. I’ve been wanting something like this ever since I got my first sling.

  5. It’s a good thing I like my Sling products as-is – I’d die on the vine waiting for day-and-date mac versions or the legendary SlingCatcher.

  6. I like the new 2.0, seemed to run smooth so far. The guide is very cool. I think so far that is probably my favorite new item added. I also like how it readjusts between wide screen and “regular screen.”

  7. i agree the new installer is nice. at first i thought it was a cheesy video but it turned out to be pretty good. now lets see if i can break this.

  8. btw the guide is awesome, no more mistakes clicking on the remote!

  9. sorry for the triple comment, but now that i think about it maybe SlingPlayer 2.0 was delivered w/o clips to be released before the olympics. i can imagine that sling usage will be up the next two weeks.

  10. Jon, I had to remove the edit comments widget – while I found it very useful and nicely implemented, it was hammering my server. So I’ll take your three comments as they are. (:

  11. I have FIOS in Northern NJ. The guide is off for me. We just got like 50 new HD channels. Unfortunately, it’s showing the old channel alignment. Hoping for an update. The beta is very cool tho. I’m loving it so far.

  12. I’m pleased with SlingBox’s continued support and improvements.
    I can’t wait to upgrade but since I’m going away this weekend for five days I’m weary of making any changes. It’s going to really be hard but I don’t want to miss connecting home to watch the Little League World Series games. :)

    Bill

  13. This sounds gooood – time to upgrade. I agree – PC recording is on my wishlist.

  14. Sling needs a REAL or active buffer–like Media Player or the one YouTube uses–that way, upload and download speeds would not be so critical. You could pause the stream and come back and it would be a perfect video download with not blurriness or choppy view.
    Any third party apps or even hacks for this on a Slingbox???? Please share.
    I have 2.0 Beta on my Solo and watching football remotely is a nightmare even with 1 mbps up and 3 mbps down, the Slingbox streams at around 500 kbps for remote viewing.

  15. Howard, streaming live video is different technically than playing recorded video and the Slingbox has no significant local storage. Also, a “real” buffer results in significant wait at launch and periodic waits as the buffer refills. Trust me, it’s less than ideal.

    If you’ve got 1Mbps up, why are you only getting 500Kbps streaming? You may want to check your settings at your remote location. Plus, you may want to manually adjust the resolution you stream at remotely. By default, I believe it’s still 320×240. If you’re truly getting 1000Kbps, I’d jack it up to 640×480 so it’ll look better.