Never enough time…
Archives For Apple
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.
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!”
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.
I 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.
UPDATE 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!)
Blake Krikorian, Sling Media co-founder and CEO, was interviewed by The Guardian. It’s a good read in which he discusses where Sling is, where they intend to go, and the market in general. Of particular interest is confirmation that the Mac SlingPlayer beta is underway and that at least one other OS will be supported this year. Based on posted job openings, his comment could refer to Symbian and/or Palm (J2ME) smart phones… though I’ve heard several requests for a desktop Linux player and the Zune does include WiFi.
Some interesting bits:
“Right now we support Windows and we’re releasing the beta of the Mac client this week for the Slingplayer worldwide. We’ve also released the Windows Mobile Smartphone and Windows Mobile Pocket PC phone. Before the end of the year, we’ll support additional platforms – there’ll be at least two more OSs, so that means a whole bunch more operating devices.”
“We’ve had a lot of requests for a mini-Sling receiver that could just plug into the other TV sets in the house so we could sling programming from the main set to another set. That could be a logical extension of our product line.”
UPDATE: I just got a call from Sling VP Jeremy Toeman, who tells me Blake was misquoted by The Guardian. Jeremy says the private Mac beta is progressing nicely, but we’re still about a month away from the public beta. We’ve made it this far, what’s another few weeks?
UPDATE 2: Blake would like to pass along a message…
I am sorry for any confusion I may have caused. Kate from the Guardian was using a tape recorder during the interview, so obviously I must have said what Kate reported in the Q&A. I could put the blame on a late night in Amsterdam (where the interview took place), but no excuses…
Here’s the situation to fully clarify:
- We are currently in the midst of a worldwide private beta for SlingPlayer for Mac.
- We have not yet released a public beta.
- We are pushing like mad to get this puppy out at the quality standards we have set for all Sling products.
- For what it’s worth, I am personally banging away on it 24/7 and am solely using Macs for my everyday computing at this point because of it.
Hope this helps clarify things and once again I am very sorry for the confusion this has created in the community.