Archives For Slingbox


The Wall Street Journal is out with a report indicating my former employer, and the visionary behind the Slingbox, has landed a new gig:

Microsoft Corp.has acquired a small home-entertainment technology startup to beef up its Xbox unit, according to people familiar with the matter. The company, id8 Group R2 Studios Inc., was created by entrepreneur Blake Krikorian in May 2011. Mr. Krikorian will be joining the Redmond, Wash., software giant with a small team. As part of the deal, Microsoft also acquired some patents owned by the startup related to controlling electronic devices.

Blake’s dabbled and invested in a variety of a projects since moving on from the Echostar-acquired Sling Media, but this latest move is notable as he’s once again assembled a seemingly valuable team and patent portfolio. But, unlike Sling’s exit, R2 Studios is more early gestation – perhaps ripe for nurturing and integration into the ever expanding Xbox ecosystem. Home automation and placeshifting? Sure, why not! Unfortunately, as Ross Rubin tweets, the implication remains that Media Center development has been mothballed.

The New Slingboxes Have Arrived

Dave Zatz —  October 10, 2012


After four long years, and despite something of a false start, Sling Media’s new line of Slingboxes are now ready for their close up. The Slingbox 350 ($180) and Slingbox 500 ($300) will be available for sale this weekend and, once older inventory has been cleared, effectively replace the Slingbox SOLO and Slingbox PRO-HD. Of course, I have a rather long history with Sling, having been a customer since pretty much day one and even spending a year or so on the team. And while there was a time when I thought the window for roll-your-own placeshifting had closed, given ongoing content licensing restrictions and app fragmentation, the need for Sling is just as relevant now as it was in 2005 – but perhaps not quite as technically impressive… nor as intimidating.

As a refresher, Sling’s core competency is relaying the content you already pay for around your home or beyond … via computer, tablet, or smartphone. Plug a Slingbox into your cable or satellite box, watch your DVR-ed shows or favorite sports team while on the road (or on the deck). Unlike your provider’s mobile apps and online services, there are no limited channel lineups or regional restrictions (much to their chagrin). Yet, as a subsidiary of EchoStar, I’d feared Sling would abandon retail in favor of operator integration and partner deals. But we were merely back burnered and they’ve returned with these two new placeshifters. Continue Reading…


UPDATE: I’ve gotten my hands on the hardware and posted a review of the Slingbox 350 & Slingbox 500 here.

Whoa! I hit Best Buy looking for this unannounced Logitech Harmony Touch… but, instead, stumbled upon a pair of unannounced Slingboxes. To put these new products in perspective, the last significant retail Slingbox hardware refresh was announced four years ago —  back when I was part of the team. And, frankly, I had worried that under Echostar’s stewardship they’d abandon retail in favor of SlingLoaded cable and satellite solutions. Good thing I was wrong?

The new Slingbox 350 and 500 both appear to stream at up to 1080p, as opposed to the standard def Slingbox Solo and 720p Slingbox PRO-HD. They also feature redesigned hardware chasis, as different from each other as they are from the prior generation boxes. But, like their predecessors, it seems their core function is to liberate placeshift your home television content around the house or the world to desktop and mobile software clients. Yet some mysteries remain… as the presumably higher end Slingbox 500 includes an HDMI input & output, remote control, and USB storage, with indications of a television-based setup. Further, this marks the first Slingbox with integrated WiFi capabilities. Finally! On the other hand, it doesn’t look like the ATSC tuner of the PRO-HD is being retained.  Continue Reading…

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.