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.