Archives For Slingbox

While we’re not exactly fond of Sling Media’s business practices, we remain enamored of their placeshifting technology which remains best of breed. Similarly, the DISH Hopper offers one of best DVR experiences out there. Indeed – the latest, greatest Hopper includes Slingbox capabilities to catch your content around the house or beyond via smartphone, tablet, computer, or streaming box. So it’s quite curious to see the Slingbox-powered Hopper Go pass through the FCC today (under the Echostar banner).

Is this a companion product, perhaps something akin to the TiVo Stream, to bring placeshifting capabilities to less full featured DVRs? Related, could this imply the DISH Hopper 3 doesn’t natively transcode and stream content? And given the “Go” designation, could this also provide video offload capabilities to catch that recording on a subway or plane without connectivity?

More Sling Media Shenanigans

Dave Zatz —  September 18, 2015 — 20 Comments

Remember that Android or iOS SlingPlayer app that cost you $15 (or even $30!) to beam your Slingbox video around?  Well, the company is retiring it. And you’re welcome to replace it with a free, ad-infested variant.  Oh, you don’t like ads? Sling will gladly take another 15 of your hard earned dollars to remove them via an in-app purchase. At the very least, should your original app purchase cease to function, you’ll have some compelling new fodder for the class action lawsuit and I wonder if you can encourage iTunes to refund your original app purchase given its retirement and Sling’s double dipping.


UPDATE: It appears Sling may have changed course based on the feedback… and perhaps they had intended to take care of prior paying customers all along, but just failed in the communication department.

So, what we said yesterday about not supporting your paid version of Slingplayer after October 1? We realized that we could make things easier for everyone by just leaving things as they are, so the paid app will continue to be available and you don’t need to download the new, free Slingplayer app if you don’t want to.

But you should still download the new free app after October 1! It has great new features you don’t want to miss, and you’ll still have an ad-free experience. (As long as you download the free app from the same app store account you used to buy the original Slingplayer app)

(Thanks Mark P!)

Disappointed that the ad-free Slingbox you purchased was suddenly inundated with banner ads and pre-roll video commercials? Well, you’re not alone. And two customers have taken these infractions to court via a class action suit.

“Sling Media failed to disclose that the use of the product would be contingent upon and subject the purchaser to unrequested advertising from Defendant. Since approximately March 17, 2015, Sling Media suddenly began broadcasting such unrequested spam advertisements to users of its Slingboxes. Slingbox has perpetuated a massive ‘bait and switch’ upon thousands of unsuspecting consumers […] who now need to watch the defendant’s ads to use their devices as promised.”


The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against Sling Media to produce and stream future original advertising through Slingbox without prior consent from purchasers. They also seek restitution and disgorgement of all profits garnered from the allegedly misleading business practices and commandeering of the devices, as well as interest and attorneys’ fees.

Perhaps Echostar’s Sling Media knew this day was coming… due to the introduction of the Slingbox M2, which looks just like the M1 yet is described as ad-supported. In any event, I won’t need to join the “class” as, for the first time since 2005, I am Slingbox-less — partially due to these gross intrusions.

Perhaps in conjunction with the introduction of a new Slingbox M2, we’re being told that Slingbox mobile clients for Android and iOS will soon be free -as opposed to the current $15 or original $30 SlingPlayer price points. Presumably the company can assume these costs in order to move more hardware and given the introduction of ad serving… well, all over the place. But here’s where it gets real interesting, as they look to the Amazon Kindle model: Echostar’s SlingMedia will provide an in-app purchase option to remove those ads. As to existing customers and the desktop or web clients, we’re just going to have to wait and see. But this is certainly an interesting twist for new customers looking to Sling for the most versatile TV everywhere solution.


Slingbox M2 En Route

Dave Zatz —  July 12, 2015 — 6 Comments

By way of some updated product pages Sling Media prematurely published and then pulled, but fortunately cached by Google, we see a Slingbox M2 is on the way. Like every Slingbox, the OG and still most liberating TV Everywhere solution, the M2 is designed to beam your television content both around the home and beyond to computers, set-tops, and mobiles. The obvious successor to the wireless 1080p Slingbox M1, which we quite liked … until the ad blitz, the M2 appears to clock in at the same $150 MSRP. Beyond the name, I wasn’t able to glean much from the limited description and will just go ahead an assume Echostar’s goal here is to reduce the company’s hardware expenses while improving the end-user experience. But how much demand will there be given the vast number of competitive streaming options out there, that possibly cover many people’s needs much of the time? Continue Reading…


Who knows if this is an extra special promotion, merely a pricing mistake, or the end of the line for the Slingbox 500. Irrespective of reason, Sears is offering up the device once known as Sling TV for more than half off at $140. New, not refurb, and shipped free. At $300, the Slingbox 500 makes no sense. But with this fire sale pricing, you benefit from the same wireless connectivity found in the lower-end Slingbox M1 along with (sometimes frustrating) HDMI pass-thru and a few TV-based perks your Roku or Fire TV probably does much better. Despite the now ad-compromised experience, Slingbox remains the most versatile solution to stream your video within or beyond the home. Should this deal appeal, you better act fast… as I suspect it’ll be gone as quickly as that $300 TiVo OTA with Lifetime Service.


Given periodic tuner conflicts with my Premiere XL4/Elite, due to recording duties and Mini streaming, and a desire to periodically offload DVR-ed shows, something the devalued Slingbox cannot offer,  I’ve been quite pleased since taking TiVo up on their 10 year customer deal last month for a 6-tuner Roamio. Indeed, while TiVo’s “Stream” functionality isn’t currently as robust or reliable as Sling’s, I downloaded several episodes of Arrow onto an iPad for two recent flights. Even with the more frequent drops or need to restart a stream as the 5PM news flips to 6PM, given TiVo’s need to initiate a recording prior to streaming, it’s still far more efficient and pleasant than Sling for “watching TV” at the dinner table. My only real issue since upgrading TiVo has been storage capacity…

My Lifetimed Premiere XL4 provided 3TB for recordings. And while we’re probably watching less “cable” television these days, we’re hoarding much more content as we accumulate seasons and half-seasons for binge viewing, sans commercial interruption. TiVo had offered me the Roamio Plus (1TB) for $500 or the Roamio Pro (3TB) for $700, both with Lifetime service. I figured I’d give the smaller drive a shot to potentially save a few bucks… and knowing I could upgrade on my own down the road, for less than TiVo charges for the drive delta, should 1TB prove insufficient.

Fast forward a few weeks… Continue Reading…

Slingbox, Now Covered In Ads

Dave Zatz —  March 20, 2015


Late last fall, Sling Media began experimenting placing ads within the Slingbox web client – both obtrusively placed banner ads and pre-roll video ads.

Well, as a follow-on, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. Ha, just kidding, it’s all bad news… as those who accepted the prompt to download the latest desktop Slingplayer client in time for March Madness are now treated to an interface overrun with ads, as shown above. Going full screen or shrinking the window does reduce the chrome and ads; However, it’s still a startling spammy intrusion. If that wasn’t disappointing enough, Sling has seriously overstepped when it comes to their Slingbox 500 owners who shelled out $300 for the benefit of video pass-thru and television output now sullied by banner advertisement overlays. Initially, Sling is promoting new features. But we can guess where this is going. And not only do they drop the ad unit on top of your video, their implementation is flawed in that both sound and video are briefly interrupted as it clears. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the mobile apps – at some point will they too receive ads and, if so, would that result in dropping the $15 iPhone and Android fee?

(Update: Sling Media PR informs me that the Slingbox 500 overlay will not be used for third party ads and paid mobile apps will not receive ads. Further, they’d like to direct folks to this Multichannel article which covers their web and desktop player ad-serving position.)

Continue Reading…