Archives For Apple

Mo’Blogging: DigitalLife, NYC

Dave Zatz —  October 12, 2006
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Amtrak, near Baltimore, 7AM

DigitalLife officially kicks off in NYC today. Unlike CES which is industry oriented, DL caters to gadget loving consumers. There will be plenty of opportunity to play with all sorts of stuff (they even have video game tourneys), so if you’re near NYC anytime until the 15th pick up your free tickets and get down here. If the quantity of email and calls I’ve been receiving is any indication, this year’s event is much larger than prior events and looks to be a good time.

Like most bloggers, I do have a day job and I’m into negative PTO these days… So we’ll just have to see how much I can cram into only 9 hours on the ground. To maximize my limited time, I probably won’t be updating ZNF as frequently the last time I journeyed north.

I don’t imagine we’ll see many (any?) product announcements today, though there have been rumors a new Treo will be unveiled. I plan to spend a decent amount of time with various portable devices, check out the home media hardware, and see if Orb will finally reveal their business model. Obviously, I’ll be dropping by the TiVo booth (last year I got fresh with their mascot) and I intend to hook up with the Sling guys who’ll be roaming the floor. But wait, there’s more! I also have two classified meetings, and several interesting people to touch base with… so stay tuned.

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View from press office, 10:30AM

The eagle has landed: I’m all checked in and ready to go! I’ll hit the floor as soon as my hot date, Peter Rojas, arrives. Peter, of course, founded both Gizmodo and Engadget and now you can see him weekly on TV.

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dash.jpgI just got off the phone with the Sling PR folks and have confirmed the current version of SlingPlayer Mobile for Smartphones is not compatible with the T-Mobile Dash (likely my next phone, despite the lack of EVDO). Sling is aware of issue and already has a beta build in testing for release in the “near future.” Once distributed, the updated software will also have improved support for all Windows Mobile devices.

And yes, a publicly available version of the Mac SlingPlayer is still slated for release this month!

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Never enough time…

  • CNET prefers HAVA specs over Slingbox? (CNET)
  • Akimbo’s new box with Movielink shipping soon. (PVRWire)
  • Apple Nano alternatives. (NYTimes)
  • Real Rhapsody 4.0 released. (Engadget)
  • Comcast online music and video store launching this month? (Gizmodo)

Never enough time…

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  • Custon BeyondTV GUI created for Hauppauge media extender. (SnapStream)
  • SageTV looks for Mac beta volunteers. (PVRWire)
  • AT&T’s U-verse going high def soon? (EngadgetHD)
  • Sony creates choose-your-ending TiVo ad. (Engadget)
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Peanut Butter & Jelly

As we’ve seen over the last week or so Sling has been readying three new boxes. In my mind, the major difference between the Slingbox Classic and the new models is improved hardware allowing for higher resolutions (up to 640×480) at higher bitrates (up to 8000Kbps). Obviously, there are a few boxes to choose from: The Tuner ($180) sports an analog tuner for OTA or basic cable signals, the AV ($180) allows you to control a set-top box (cable box, DVR, etc), and the Pro ($250) includes a tuner and supports multiple sources. The boxes have already started showing up online and in stores, with other outlets following shortly. Additionally, a $50 HD connector will be released this fall to pipe HD signals (obviously down-scaled) into the SB Pro via component cables.

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Oh yeah… I might have had a few of these boxes in my house the last month or so. ;) I can tell you video quality on a LAN definitely exceeds Slingbox Classic levels and I expect it to get even better going forward. However if you’ll be doing most of your Slinging remotely and have slow uplink speeds, now is a good time to pick up the original Slingbox on the cheap. I imagine once the stock runs dry, we’ll see some price cuts on the new boxes before the holidays. Sling did a nice job improving the look of their boxes, software, and retail packaging. I am bummed we didn’t get WiFi support with this hardware rev — I’m not sure how much weight I carry, but Sling knows my feelings on this subject. From a market perspective, I might have recommended keeping the Slingbox Classis and introducing only the Slingbox Pro at this time. I do wonder if the decision to offer multiple boxes has any relation to next year’s requirement to include an ATSC tuner if providing a NTSC one.

Director of PR Brian Jaquet tells me we can expect public Mac support in the next 30 days with Symbian support later this fall. Sling’s new web site should go live later tonight, with a ton of updates including details on the new boxes. VP of Market Development Jeremy Toeman tells me, “We’ve spent a lot of time listening to our existing customers and have focused on building new products that appeal to them as well as opening up the market to a wider audience. With the new Slingboxes we have introduced higher quality video streaming, more features, and at really attractive price points!”

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Via press release, CEO Blake Krikorian has this to say:

With our new products, we have focused on creating a better out-of-box experience for our customers, increased performance and software features and segmented our product family to reach a new set of customers who are now ready to experience the benefits of Slingbox. At the end of the day, our mission remains the same – create the best possible consumer experience with killer products that our customers simply love.

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sling-support2.jpgI was somewhat doubtful when I read yesterday that someone had picked up a new Slingbox, but I figured what the heck and headed over to Best Buy (Fairfax, VA) during lunch. Lo and behold, about half a dozen AV Slingboxes were on the shelf next to the original Slingbox. I had an employee ring up the price: $179.99. The side panel of the boxes confirms there will ultimately be three new models — the Tuner, AV, and Pro. The Tuner unit includes a built-in tuner (duh) for analog cable or antenna, the AV model is for controlling a set-top box, and the Pro model appears to support multiple sources and HD. The other side panel indicates support for Windows and Mac OSX… AND Symbian! (Which CEO Blake Krikorian alluded to two weeks ago.) I didn’t come across much more info on features (versus the “classic” Slingbox) or pricing of the other two models, though we gotta hear something official soon – right?

UPDATE: Ryan H from the Sling Community was a little more thorough than I when visiting his Best Buy in August, GA. The Best Buy computer shows the Tuner model listed at $150 and the Pro model listed at $250, both being available 10/22. Additionally, there’s a listing for a $50 HD connector.

sling-av.jpgUPDATE 2: Amazon has both the Slingbox AV and Slingbox Tuner online. Neither is available for purchase, though the AV is listed at $180 and can be pre-ordered for $155. The descriptions indicate a 400% improvement in picture quality over the original Slingbox. (Thanks Bill!)

Updated info:
The 2nd Generation Slingbox Resource Page
Three New Slingboxes Formally Announced

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