Archives For Slingbox

SlingCommunity Shutting Down

Dave Zatz —  April 27, 2010

Today marks the end of an era as the SlingCommunity shutters its doors. I assume this isn’t entirely voluntary on their part, given Sling Media’s recently launched Slingbox tech support-oriented forum. In fact, years of SlingCommunity content (215,000 posts) will vanish later today when their URL will begin redirecting all traffic to

As a very early Slingbox owner and, later, as a Sling Media employee, I have a pretty good handle on Sling’s forum arc.

The Slingbox was a hot topic of discussion on AVS Forum at launch in 2005. It’s where I got to know founder and CEO Blake Krikorian. And convinced him the office workers of the world needed a Windows 2000 client. And they turned one around in 48 hours. As the conversation grew, Sling approached the owners of AVS about cordoning off a dedicated Sling area. But they wouldn’t play ball. In fact, I got the sense they didn’t appreciate the company’s public contributions for whatever reason. So Sling took their cash elsewhere and partnered with Capable Networks, who launched the SlingCommunity. Continue Reading…

DISH VIP 922 Slingbox DVR

380 million dollars and 2.5 years in the making, the world’s first DVR containing Slingbox functionality has arrived. Of course, this is exactly the sort of hybrid product we expected when Echostar acquired Sling Media in 2007. Although it wasn’t actually until CES 2009 that our suspicions were confirmed. And DISH Network’s 2009 launch plans have obviously slipped. Yet, the wait is now over!

In addition to placeshifting capabilities and other remote access functionality, the dual tuner VIP 922 SlingLoaded DVR pairs a brand new and possibly app-alicious UI (see below) with a roomy 1 terabyte drive and powerline networking. Fortunately, Echo/Sling/DISH drew the line there and chose not bundle the horrible prototype touchpad remote control. Not only was it difficult to navigate one handed, like Sezmi, it did away with the number keys.


It’s not clear (to me) from DISH’s site what the VIP 922 and service run, but Engadget came across a memo which indicates a MSRP of $695 for the hardware, with leases starting as low as $200 (whatever that means). I don’t have many options as a potential reviewer with an obstructed satellite view. So, like most, I’ll resign myself to waiting for the pro journalists to chime in and and early customer testimonials. But on paper (or LCD), the VIP 922 sure looks hot.

It may not be quite as nice as their upcoming higher resolution, universal app, but it appears the existing iPhone OS Slingbox client ($30, iTunes) is a go on the 9.7″ iPad. I’m currently tabletless, but posed the Sling question to my Twitteverse. And heard back from several reputable sources including ZDNet’s Jason Perlow, Macworld Editor Jason Snell, analyst/columnist Michael Gartenberg, and TiVoblog’s Alex Raiano. The consensus seems to be that the iPhone SlingPlayer app works, but a native client is preferred. However, you don’t have to take their word for it… As Jeff Finkelstein has kindly shared a video demo with us.

I recently checked in with my former Sling peeps, regarding mobile clients. Specifically, codecs and resolution. As we know, a Slingbox Android client is on tap this summer. And I wondered if they’re sticking with WMV video streaming or moving to H.264 for this platform. While I wasn’t able to get a definitive answer on Android from Mobile Product Marketing Manager, Dave Eyler, I have learned they’re “actively moving towards H.264” – which requires the newer, more capable placeshifters (think SOLO or PRO-HD). Also, it’s really no surprise that they’ll be going the Silverlight route for Windows Phone 7.

In regards to resolution, I don’t don’t believe Sling Media has taken mobile client video resolutions beyond 320×240. By design, due to processing power, memory, bandwidth and battery life. But, here comes the iPad. And I don’t want a pixel-doubled iPhone SlingPlayer app on that large screen. Fortunately, Sling has confirmed they’re prepared to accommodate me with something a bit better, some day…

When it makes a noticeable difference in quality, we will definitely provide higher resolution streaming.  The iPad is a good example of a device where we are hard at work on this, but unfortunately it won’t be there at the April launch.

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.

This post republished from Mobiputing.

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…

Bell TV is the first licensee, beyond the obvious DISH Network, to implement Sling Guide services. Re-branded as the more clear “Remote PVR” for Canada, Bell customers now receive:

  • 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.

The iPhone Apps of the Week

Dave Zatz —  February 8, 2010

SlingPlayer Mobile

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 sayswe’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.

WorldCard Mobile ( business card reader & business card scanner )

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 Assistant

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: