Archives For Slingbox

The Clintons Dig Slingbox & TiVo

Dave Zatz —  September 6, 2012


It appears I’m in good company as the Clinton family appreciates both TiVo and Slingbox hardware. As the story goes, Hillary was traveling abroad and was unable to catch Bill’s speech locally (obviously) and in real time. So she remotely caught the DVR-ed presentation at an ambassador’s home:

For you technophiles that were curious as to how she was able to watch the speech, it was via SlingPlayer, which streamed a recording from a SlingBox connected to an aide’s home TiVo.

(via Blake Krikorian… you know, the guy who invented the Slingbox.)

EchoStar’s Sling Media is out with a survey today testing the waters for console-based placeshifting. While the SlingCatcher is dead and buried, SlingPlayer for Connected Devices has been slowly bringing Slingbox feeds to various set-top devices including Google TV, WDTV Live, and Boxee. Next up, your Xbox, Wii, or PS3? From the emailed survey (pictured below):

In this section, we’re trying to gauge your interest in using SlingPlayer on your game console. Imagine if you could watch your Slingbox in full HD on your big screen TV using your game console. Essentially, you could enjoy everything on your main TV but you would use your gaming device. In other words, you could:

  • Watch all your live TV, DVR recordings & On-demand content
  • Control everything using your game console controller
  • With a picture quality comparable to your normal TV experience

A big advantage is that you would NOT PAY for another cable or satellite set top box.  A couple of situations where you can enjoy this are:

  1. A vacation home
  2. A 2nd bedroom, recreation room, or basement
  3. College student’s apt or dorm
  4. Replace any set top box

While the proposition is appealing, I’m not sure a game console is the most efficient platform for delivery… for Sling or for us. Assuming our Slingboxes will never stream content to Apple TV, Roku is an ideal platform if Sling can work out the technical challenges — it’s small and cheap, with an open SDK and much greater penetration than say the WDTV Live Sling currently supports. How much would an app like that be worth to you? Continue Reading…


Looking for a Slingbox alternative? Belkin could have you covered when they launch @TV next month. Like Slingbox, Belkin’s upcoming $150 hardware relays audio and video from your DVR or other set-top to computer or mobile around the house or anywhere the world. Computer and iPad or Android tablet viewing software will be free, but the smartphone client will run you $13.

While it’s not clear if this hardware actually streams in HD, it’s entirely apparent who’s producing the box for Belkin… as I turned up this very same Vulkano product via FCC filings last fall. Further, a quick Google search of “Belkin” and “Vulkano” points us to Android Marketplace and iTunes App Store clients (that have been active for months). Monsoon, the maker of Hava and Vulkano, has been down this OEM path before with Pinnacle and Linksys — and here’s to hoping they have better luck with Belkin’s brand awareness and retail shelf space. Assuming consumers are still interested in roll-your-own placeshifting given all the mobile media alternatives. Continue Reading…

TiVo Demos iPad Video Streaming

Dave Zatz —  January 10, 2012

Hm, looks like TiVo’s got their own Apple-esque version of “one more thing” going on at CES this week. In addition to discussing the next Premiere DVR software update and Comcast Xfinity On Demand deployment plans, TiVo is demoing DVR video streaming to their iPad companion app. Wow!

They’re describing this using terms such as “conceptual” and “prototype” — and are obviously not ready to discuss if or when this may be released, what sort of content may be permissible, which partners and hardware are granted access, etc. But it’s a very interesting direction to see them moving in. Coincidentally, earlier this week, I shared some thoughts on the possibility of Slingbox functionality:

 I can’t imagine TiVo will ever get into the placeshifting game (for retail) units as they’re very careful not to alienate broadcasters or potential MSO partners at this phase of the game. And placeshifting is still somewhat contested and would compete in some sense with a provider’s TV Anywhere initiative. But I could see them baking it in for a smaller MSO like RCN that may not be equipped to build or want to invest in their own serverside/headend solution.

We’re hounding TiVo for additional technical details and some visual evidence. You can bet we’ll update our coverage if/as we learn more.

Update: TiVo has delivered. As you can see from the prototype photographed above, we now have a better idea how they could conceivable move content from a DVR to a mobile app using what appears to be a networked accessory. They’re offloading transcoding and streaming duties, perhaps similar to how the the DirecTV Nomad operates or what the Motorola Televation does for Comcast. Of course, having this functionality integrated directly into a DVR is a much cleaner solution. But even DISH Network dumped their integrated Slingbox in favor of a Sling Adapter upsell.  

Several pay-TV operators debuted iPad apps with streaming video in 2011, and most started offering live TV before the end of the year. Now Broadcom is hoping to take those TV Everywhere efforts a step further. This morning the chip maker announced an integration deal with EchoStar to embed Sling place-shifting tech in its dual-tuner HD gateway system on a chip (SoC), the BCM7425. The news means set-top makers, like heavyweights Motorola and Cisco, will soon be able to add a dose of Sling into their set-tops with the help of one of their existing suppliers.

To date, Dish Network is the only service provider offering place shifting with a Slingbox or “Slingloaded” set-top. All of the other live streaming apps on the market require users to stay within the bounds of their home Wi-Fi networks. Thanks to current licensing deals, and programmer squeamishness, TV Everywhere is more like TV Everywhere in Your House. However, Cablevision’s (until recently) COO Tom Rutledge already stated publicly in August that Cablevision is working to change that. The Sling-on-a-Chip news could help pave the way. If  “slinging” becomes more mainstream, it will be hard to argue that operators can’t offer the same functionality in their apps, with our without Broadcom’s SoC.

Broadcom says the new BCM7425 will be available in the third quarter of this year for cable, telecom and satellite TV operators.

New Slingbox App Fees Ahead?

Dave Zatz —  December 23, 2011


When the recently released Boxee and Google TV Slingbox client “apps” launched (1, 2), I was pretty psyched. Not only did this represent the first time we could stream our content television-to-television (without dedicated SlingCatcher hardware), unlike Echo Star’s mobile apps, these new services arrived at no cost. However, the fee-free element may merely be temporary given the latest Slingbox emailed newsletter:

During this introductory period SlingPlayer for Logitech Revue is free!

SlingPlayer for connected devices is free of charge in North America during this introductory period.

Interestingly, the way in which EchoStar first presented the Flash-based SlingPlayer for Connected Devices about a year ago led me to believe we might see some sort of monthly or annual subscription. Which is why last month I was “pleasantly surprised to see it’s being offered without a one-time or recurring fee.” But it looks like I may have spoken too soon and changes lie ahead… perhaps dependent on uptake.

On a broader scale, roll-your-own placeshifting technology remains a niche and transitional solution. So, for EchoStar to keep this division and product line alive, they probably need to see substantially more revenue and ongoing service fees could be just the ticket.

SlingPlayer Comes To Google TV

Dave Zatz —  December 16, 2011


After nearly a year in development, EchoStar has released the SlingPlayer for Google TV. And, as the recent Boxee and Facebook Slingbox players, what we’re really dealing with is a Flash-based webpage. As Engadget points out, this means you won’t necessarily have the same level of polished remote keymapping… yet the platform is infinitely more portable/reusable than a dedicated app for each OS. At least until Adobe kills mobile and television Flash. But, hey, at least it won’t run you $30 like Sling’s mobile apps.

Like all SlingPlayers, this version allows you to watch your home television content beyond the confines of your property line… OR within rooms, say, without a set-top box. Originally, the Slingbox streamed video to desktop software or mobile clients, but the advent of Boxee and Google TV provide for television-to-television streaming. So as bad as the Logitech Revue is, for $80 to $100 it makes a better “sling catcher” than the ill fated and discontinued SlingCatcher ($300).

To partake, you’ll need a Slingbox SOLO or PRO-HD ($150 – $300) and the SlingPlayer “app” can be found under the Google TV Spotlight.

Everyone wants in on the EPG business. That’s one of the conclusions I took away from the SCTE Cable Tec-Expo event earlier this month. Even as CE manufacturers are pumping up the volume on connected devices with their own video interfaces, vendors in the cable TV world are pushing a range of solutions that tie the electronic program guide into larger content management systems for pay-TV operators. I talked about Rovi’s TotalGuide EPG a couple weeks back, and there’s Arris’ Moxi guide, but those two are far from the only players in this game. Here’s a sample of three other companies touting their own guide solutions.


Clearleap is perhaps better known in the world of Internet delivery than it is in the cable industry, but the company is rapidly carving out a niche among MSOs. Speaking with CTO John Carlucci at the SCTE event, I learned that Clearleap has a hosted, white-label guide on the market, and that it offers media services to help operators manage, encode and deliver video to connected devices. Clearleap’s solutions are strictly IP-based, but they’re already being used by Verizon for its VOD platform, and Carlucci says the company’s in trials with “four of the top five” operators for its media services. As for the guide specifically, Clearleap’s solution could be a compelling one for tier-2 and tier-3 operators. The service runs on a pay-as-you-go model, and Clearleap is rapidly adding advanced features. The company recently integrated with Great Lakes Data Systems (GLDS) to add options for a-la-carte transactions that are tied back to a subscriber’s monthly cable bill. (Think additional IP content purchases on top of the monthly subscription) Carlucci says social features are on the way. Orbitel, a small cableco out of Arizona, launched the Clearleap/GLDS solution in October to create a branded VOD experience on subscriber Roku boxes.


Motorola showed up with a reference EPG back at the Cable Show in 2010, but that’s as far as the company had ventured into the guide world until this fall. Continue Reading…