iPhone SlingPlayer Updated for HQ, New Guide

Late last night, an updated SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone was released to the App Store. And the refreshed placeshifting software inherits two notable features from its iPad big brother… the new program guide and, much more significantly, higher resolution streaming — I’m thinking in the neighborhood of 640×480 and utilizing H.264 encoding. Which is why only the newer, more capable Slingbox SOLO and PRO-HD units can provide it.

Unfortunately, I’m not in the position to test much of anything at the moment. While I’ve downloaded the update, my PRO-HD (and a ton of other gear) is boxed up in the basement after the big move. So we’re counting on the ZNF community to share their experiences in the comments.

(Thanks, morac!)

14 thoughts on “iPhone SlingPlayer Updated for HQ, New Guide”

  1. One thing I’m wondering… I found the original app a bit sluggish in a number of areas, some of which I attributed to shoehorning WMV decoding into iOS. So I’m wondering if the presumably H.264 HQ video allows for a more sprightly app?

  2. Wait a minute… is this the first time that the iPhone app explicitly supports older SlingBoxes like the Classic? I’ve got a “Classic” and an “AV” which successfully stream to my old Palm TX, but I’ve held off on buying the app for my iPod Touch because I thought the older models weren’t “officially” supported.

  3. I’m finding the app works FINE with older slingboxes at least the pro I have works fine. ONLY the HQ part is subject to having a proHD or solo.

    I don’t find the app much snappier than the previous version. Dave, not sure if you are talking about the APP or the RESPONSE time back to the STB. Both seem the same.

    On a LAN or WAN with a good connection (and a good SOLID 750kps+ from the LAN) the HQ streaming is very nice. Try something like CNBC HD and you can see every detail on the ticker, even the tiny ticker version from D*. We’re getting pretty close to true “hd” quality, visibly at least on the mobile device.

  4. Peter, A year or so ago and prior to release, Sling said the SlingPlayer for iPhone app would only work with SOLO and PRO-HD. At the time it was an artificial line in the sand, although based on where Sling knew they were going with H.264, their desire to minimize support costs, and maximize hardware sales, but customers called BS. So Sling backed down and did right by their customers – the original iPhone app did support all units and now folks can benefit from the presumably H.264 capabilities of the newer models.

  5. I’m pretty sure while the video is probably h.264 the quality is not the same as the iPad stream. Check out TiVo menu and guide text. It’s a nice upgrade on battery life compared to 1.0 so far for me.. But quality isn’t what I would call stellar on the video front.

    The built in guide is a nice add… But with a TiVo in the house, it’s not really needed for me.

    The UI is the same clunky low res (no iPhone 4 assets) ui they had in 1.0… They didn’t match the iPad and Win Phone 7 UI at all.

    I’m glad they put some attention on this, but the iPad app is a much better experience, and I’m lost to figure out why they didn’t just make the iPad rewrite universal and/or give a recompiled version for the iPhone. Odd.

    Changing channels is still sluggish.

  6. Thanks, Kyle and tivoboy. I’ve actually got a loaner iPad in here. Think i need to get my PRO-HD hooked up and grab a copy of the app.

    “why they didn’t just make the iPad rewrite universal”

    Probably two reasons… So as to not delay the release/update while waiting on a universal client and to charge people twice.

  7. My experience with the new update on my 3GS is mostly positive. The quality is a lot better, though I do frequently see rebuffering over 3G.

    The biggest complaint I have is that controlling a DVR over 3G in HQ mode is now impossible because, unlike in SQ mode, using remote buttons won’t cause the app to jump to “live” video and rebuffer. As such reactions to remote commands take anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds to see the results of button presses.

    My 2nd biggest complaint is that using the “Guide” seems to remember your last choice so if you open and close it, it will repeat whatever the last action you did, be it change the channel or open the DVR menu.

  8. I find it interesting they made this version backward compatible. When the Windows Phone version came out only the Solo and ProHd worked. This was a complaint of mine when I upgraded. They also seem to not understand the issues people have had with the Windows Phone version, I personally have more than once told Sling the remote needs to have a “-” added so DirecTV users can enter OTA and part time HD channels. They also haven’t added the favorites gesture like is on the iPhone verion.

    Since you can use older Slingbox models I will be upgrading my iPod touch to this verion.

  9. It’s really starting to get to me that all the tech news sites are falling for the PR around “High Quality Video” and using the same PR pictures that Sling is sending around.

    Their iPad client IS that good. Their iPhone client is a train wreck when it comes to video quality, and always has been. They didn’t do that much of a fix here folks. The video is probably still streaming at fairly low quality.. it’s certainly not the same high-res stream that’s delivered to the iPad.

    Here’s a comparison video I made on the same exact wifi network from pixel by pixel screenshots of the quality new updated SPM iPhone client running on an iPhone 4 vs the new SMP iPad client. They obviously didn’t do any work in the iPhone version (other than the icon) to meet the CPU/Resolution available on the iPhone 4. It’s a pretty disappointing update on the heals of their iPad client.


    Notice the lack of quality in the on screen text and horrible pixelation on her face?

  10. Kyle, you’re right and my assumption was incorrect. I’ve confirmed with Sling that the iPad streams at a higher resolution than the updated iPhone app. Perhaps it’s the same max resolution it’s always been, but maybe looks better as H.264? Hm.

  11. @Dave,

    h.264 has much better rendering than other codecs at low bitrates, so even if its not the same resolution as the iPad, it could be less blocky and look considerably better than before just because of the codec change. The in loop deblocking filter in particular improves things quite a bit.

  12. i’m new to the sling pro hd model about 2 weeks now. i had the classic model for about 4 or 5 years and was very satisfied with the “quality” i got using my previous phone models over composite. i had the palm windows mobile 6.5 and iphone 3gs with my classic. with my iphone 4 using the classic model, i was still very satisfied and thought as long as the picture and sound get the job done, i’m good! i upgraded to the HD model 2 weeks ago, because i read the slingbox classic would soon be obsolete and the ipad upgraded was just around the corner. since i don’t have 3G model of the ipad, all i could enjoy with the upgrade would be over wifi. since the upgrade release, i’ve had a great time enjoying superior quality. now that slingbox mobile 2.0 is out for the iphone, and i can try it out of 3G, I have to say i’m really loving the improved quality! by the way, i’m still watching my slingbox over composite! i don’t need the HD even if the picture could be even better… after testing it over 3G today for a bit, i’ve noticed the battery on my iphone performs longer than it did over the previous slingplayer version. it’s well worth the upgrade!

  13. @Evan that you’re using composite is probbably why it looks very good. I’ve found that the HD does not do that great a job scaling down 1080i to an iPhone size screen. It’s much better at handling a pre-scaled 480i source than a 1080i one. That’s true of all the Sling Players (including PC/Mac) at low bit rates.

  14. One of the big disappointments is the need to send all your video to the cloud. This is great is you’re away from the location where the slingbox is located, but if it is in your home and you want to watch on your iPhone or iPad in another room, you need to send the video out over the internet and then back to you home again, instead of just viewing it over the LAN. Bottlenecks abound, and there’s no way the streaming quality over the internet is as good as what could be delivered over the LAN.

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