Sling Media is developing an Android version of its SlingPlayer mobile software that will let you stream live video from your home theater to your Android phone. Sling already offers SlingPlayer clients for Windows Mobile, PalmOS, BlackBerry, Symbian, and the iPhone for about $30 each. While Sling hasn’t announced Android client pricing, it seems safe to assume it will run about the same when launched this summer. In order to stream TV using the SlingPlayer, you need a Slingbox, that you plug into your home theater components. For instance, if you want to be able to stream media stored on your DVR, you can connect your DVR, allowing you to watch live or pre-recorded programs, pause, play, as well as play, pause, fast forward, or rewind. Check out a video of an early version of the application up top, courtesy of Android and Me.
Archives For Slingbox
As the bastard child of EchoStar, Sling Media no longer enjoys the same sort of blog love seen in years past. So while many learned that the 3G iPhone Slingbox client ($30) was finally approved over the weekend, you may have missed a few other nuggets of Sling goodness…
- Personalized and integrated view of everything there is to schedule or record in a simple visual interface on a PC, Mac or compatible smartphone.
- Ability to search, browse and schedule new programming from anywhere you have an Internet connection.
- One click recording.
- Full control of the DVR and television using a computer or mobile phone.
But customers worldwide can appreciate Sling’s continued its march into the browser. Not only have they started to de-emphasize (hide) computer SlingPlayer software in favor of their evolving web player(s), they’ve unveiled a web-based remote control learning widget. (PC-only, for now.) Anyone who’s struggled with IR control of their STB will appreciate this tool to customize/create a virtual remote control by mapping IR signals from unsupported hardware:
Welcome to the Slingbox Remote Control Manager. We’ll help you set up your remote control, change it, or create a new custom one.
Back when I was employed by Sling, staying current with remotes was one of the causes I championed. And why not? The hardware supported it. I’m only bummed it’s taken Sling this long to get to a beta release.
AT&T has finally relented and it appears that the iPhone Slingbox client ($30) will be shedding it’s WiFi-only designation in the near future. But it’s not going 3G without a bit more drama… AT&T says “we’ve worked with Sling Media” to further optimize SlingPlayer for 3G. Something Sling has absolutely no recollection of: “AT&T never discussed any specific requirements with us.” Regardless, the updated app should be available soon. My personal copy of the iPhone SlingPlayer has been active on 3G for several months. Unfortunately, the video quality isn’t great – a combination of AT&T’s overtaxed network, the max resolution Sling utilizes for their mobile clients, and a reliance on processor-intensive WMV decoding over native H.264. Plus, audio and video isn’t always in sync. Which is why I upgraded to Slacker Radio Plus ($48/yr), my constant and more reliable gym companion, via iPhone over the weekend.
Now that my transition from Yahoo to Gmail is in full swing, I’ve also taken the opportunity to clean up and expand my address book(s). Google’s contact de-duper has been helpful. But the $6 WorldCard iPhone app has been a massive time saver. It’s not quite perfect, but it’s solid when it comes to analyzing 3GS photographs of CES-acquired business cards. I’d say it got ~95% of contact names, phone numbers, and email addresses correct. And the other fields I care less about. But WorldCard does provide field editing and allows you to match areas of a business card with select fields for additional cleanup. Once satisfied with the results, WorldCard dumps (or merges) the contact details into your iPhone address book. Combined with Gmail’s iPhone Exchange services, any new contacts show up online rather quickly and without intervention. Recommended!
Siri (free) received a good amount of positive buzz at launch last week. It provides a new spin on information aggregation and operates via decent voice recognition as you carry on a scrolling chat with your “personal assistant.” I doubt I’ll use it regularly as I’m not sure it saves any time over accessing separate apps. But Siri reminds me a bit of Wolfram Alpha‘s advanced queries and is quite fun in a Magic 8-Ball sort of way — check out some additional screengrabs of our playful testing.
I had a brief chat this morning with John Gilmore, Sling Media’ General Manager, who wanted to assure me (and ZNF readers) that (despite my concerns) they are far from done with retail. In fact, they’ll be actively growing that business. And the first related announcement is an upcoming Flash-based SlingPlayer being demo-ed in their booth. Meaning you could potentially turn your PS3 into a SlingCatcher and additional mobiles should be more quickly supported. The Flash player will hit the first half of 2010 with initial support for the Slingbox PRO-HD with the Slingbox SOLO to follow. And presumably any future retail Slingboxen.
I also had an opportunity to briefly chat with Sling’s mobile product manager, who announced an Android SlingPlayer client is coming (!), although they’re not prepared to discuss timing. Unfortunately, Palm’s webOS is currently being “evaluated.” Meaning a potential launch is much further away.
As you can see, I also snapped some photos of their four new products destined for cable and satellite providers (like DISH Network) – the impossibly small Slingbox 700u (above), Sling Touch Control, Sling Receiver, and Sling WiFi Monitor.
Click to enlarge:
So much for getting to bed at a reasonable hour… as EchoStar just hit us with four Sling-related announcements. As I promised last week. Unfortunately, none of these Slingbox devices are headed to retail and will be exclusively offered via cable or satellite provider. Which, in the near term, means solely DISH Network.
The Sling Monitor 150 (above) and the Sling Receiver 300 (below center) represent the evolution of the SlingCatcher concept, if not platform – providing a means to remotely display streamed content from a Slingbox-esque device, such as the upcoming SlingLoaded 922 DVR. The Slingbox 700u (bottom left) looks to be a USB accessory to provide non-SlingLoaded DISH/Echo STBs with placeshifting capabilities. Lastly, we’ve got the sexy looking WiFi & IR Sling Touch Control remote designed to interface with SlingLoaded DVRs, plus your other A/V accessories, and display an EPG. Collectively, DISH Network is branding their placeshifting product line and functionality as TV Everywhere. (Where have we heard that phrase before?)
I’ll be swinging by EchoStar’s booth Thursday AM to get a firsthand look at the new Sling gear and dig a bit deeper into their distribution strategy. Because as it stands, it seems to me that they just announced their intentions to abandon direct-to-consumer retail sales. (When is Palm’s press conference? Maybe they’ll pleasantly surprise me with a webOS SlingPlayer client.)
Click to enlarge:
Beyond the WiFi-only iPhone Slingbox client ($30), neutered by Apple and AT&T, it’s been a very quiet year for Sling. No new retail products. Insignificant firmware and software updates to existing products. And fire sale SlingCatcher pricing. Combined with near radio silence, I figured EchoStar has been winding down the Sling line. However, all is not lost, as I received a CES invite earlier today that promises:
You’ll experience an up close view of Sling’s new placeshifting products including WiFi television, ultra-slim Slingboxes, and a next-generation touch screen device.
Of course, a WiFi television was shown at CES last year (pic above). Where it was pitched as a DISH Network accessory for Echostar’s yet-to-be-released “SlingLoaded” VIP 922 Echostar DVR. If I had to guess, that touchscreen device similarly accessorizes the 922 — as a Sonos-esque remote controller. I’m not entirely opposed to a slimmed-down Slingbox, but noticeably absent from this pitch is reference to a next generation Catcher… that lives up to its billing. Stay tuned, as I intend to find out more (with pics) next week in Vegas.
Looks like DISH Network is next in line with an app store offering, following in the footsteps of rival DirecTV. EchoStar’s repeatedly delayed Slingbox-loaded 922s DVR, now slated for delivery “early next year,” will provide access to a variety of home grown and third party apps. The SDK and API has already been made available to developers, although DISH hasn’t yet committed to a store launch date. And, as you’d expect, they’ll act as gatekeepers according to Light Reading:
“We’re the ones to make sure the apps past muster, that they don’t use too much of the resources in the box, for example,” says Jeffrey Hale, an EchoStar national account manager.