SlingCatcher Is Real!

Dave Zatz —  January 7, 2007 — 35 Comments
slingcatcher-1.jpg

A few months back, I stumbled upon some patent applications by the Krikorian brothers (AKA Sling Media founders and execs) that alluded to a device designed to receive broadcasts — as opposed to the Slingbox which broadcasts your home television signals.

Apparently they liked my proposed name, as Sling’s newest device has been branded the SlingCatcher. As both a geeky consumer and someone who tracks this space, I feel confident saying this device is huge. The ability to control (it has a remote!) and broadcast my Series3 TiVo in the living room via Slingbox to my bedroom TV via SlingCatcher is awesome. All those digital channels (IFC, NFL, etc) and content stored on the S3 we have in the living room will be accessible in the bedroom. Or at a buddies house. Or in a hotel. Kick ass!

Sling Media has huge plans for this device — streaming media from a Slingbox is just one feature they’ve got in the works. Another biggie that they’re ready to disclose: Computer-based client software will provide access a variety Internet video, both big and small, via your TV. Miss Lost? No problem, buy it online through the vendor of your choice and stream it via your Slingcatcher to watch on TV. Saw some ridiculous thing on YouTube? Share it on the TV rather than crowding around a laptop. Sounds pretty cool, but the success of this feature will depend on how well they execute the software interface.

Sling informs me there are quite a few other features (perhaps content downloads related to the recent launch of a New York-based Sling Media Entertainment group?) which they’ll reveal along the way to a mid-year release at less than $200.

The SlingCatcher will offer numerous connectivity options such as HDMI, component, USB, integrated WiFi, and an optional hard drive. I plan to get close up to whatever prototype Sling has on display here at CES and will report back later in the week.

35 responses to SlingCatcher Is Real!

  1. Excellent!

    Now if they’d just ship a PalmOS client I’d have no excuses left at all. ;-)

    Any word on if they’ll produce a combo Slingbox/SlingCatcher? That way you would only need one box in your main stack to be both server (for other clients) and client (for PC content, or other services).

  2. Make it powerful enough to stream all the videos I download via bit tor … iTunes and I’ll be happy!

  3. Mega — A combination box seems possible with a firmware upgrade and a remote, given that IR receiver we found on the Slingbox Pro.

  4. Couple of questions…

    1) Does the slingcatcher have pass thru IR? By that I mean, can I sit in front of it with my trusty Tivo peanut remote and control the actual Tivo on the far end of the network? This is sort of critical. No one seems to make a remote anywhere as good as the peanut.

    2) Multiple clients? I currently broadcast my Tivo’s video through the house with a stereo cable encoder. While this works pretty well for SDTV, there are some picture quality issues. Its also limited to 480i and stereo audio. With our recent jump to HD on the main media center, I’d love to be able to broadcast hi-def video with digital audio. I’m not looking for multiple streams (different video), just being able to replicate the single stream to multiple clients on the same LAN.

  5. iTV, SlingCatcher, Roxio releasing some sort of Tivo software, TivoDecode Manager, the new SlingBox I got for Christmas … It’s too much!

    I can’t take it anymore! The world of tech is moving to quickly for me to follow. Afterall, I just learned about port mapping to get an ftp server running on my computer.

    Now all I need is a software application that rolls everything into one package for me to keep track of.

    Right now I have plastered my laptop with Dynmo labels with all these addresses and passwords on it.

    None the less, the SlingCatcher, while it may complicate my life, I look forward to getting one!.

    -Nyx

  6. I may have actually been the first to coin the term “slingcatcher” back when I wanted one but they didn’t exist on 1/16/2006 a year ago:
    http://www.slingcommunity.com/forum/thread/11442/?page=1

    Hopefully what they are coming out with will let us watch SlingPlayer content remotely without involving a computer.

  7. Dave – That’s what I was thinking too. Though the Pro doesn’t have any A/V outputs, does it? So it might be something based on it?

  8. i wonder if you will be able to ‘catch’ streams from sling boxs or pc’s from sources outside your home. ie. my friend has a slong box in California and i’m catching it in Massachusets. That would rock, wicked hard core.

  9. another suggestion: maybe the sling catcher will be able to support third party remotes, so i can just buy another tivo remote and use it with my sling catcher instead of dealing with a generic remote

  10. RE: Remotes
    I don’t have the answers on that, I’ll be seeing the Sling team tonight and tomorrow AM and will try to find out.

    Megazone: The Slingbox Pro has AV pass-thrus for each set of inputs. So it may be possible.

  11. Dave, can you also ask them about the fact that the SlingBox PRO accepts HD signals, but only sends them at a max of 640×480? This would seem to make the SlingCatcher useless as an HD media sender.

  12. this is what I have been waiting for. I like the appliance approach to these type of devices with no PC involved. looking forward to the full review

  13. hopefully the built in hard drive in the sling catcher will allow remote scheduled recordings from the slingbox. That way when I am traveling and have to adjust to a different time zone, i will not miss my shows due to sleeping or going on a tour while my show is on. The built in Wifi is nice hopefully it can be configured via laptop to comply with hotel settings. I do not know if it has a built in router, but that would be a terrific feature. At times I found myself having to bring in my own router and set-up mu own wireless network on a private subnet so that I did not have to pay the hotel for each device/day/fee for internet access. A built in router would solve that problem. I also use a linksys sipura voip adaptor which requires a wired lan connection and if the sling catcher had a port for this it too would be nice. The less hardware a traveler needs to carry the better don’t you think???

  14. Max,

    The SlingCatcher doesn’t have a built-in hard drive, it is an external add-on. Basically it becomes a base that the SlingCatcher sits on top of. I don’t know that Sling would give it recording capabilities, that would put it in DVR territory up against the likes of TiVo. And the SlingCatcher doesn’t have any A/V *input*, just output.

    My impression, from talking with them, is that the drive is meant to store media streamed to the SlingCatcher over broadband. Maybe you’ll be able to record streams from a Slingbox too.

    There is no built-in router, it is just a client node device on the network.

  15. Will the SlingCatcher allow us to watch videos that are on a computer? I see that you say we can watch videos from a web service like youtube, but what about home video that are on my hard drive?

  16. Based on what I heard at CES – yes, you’ll be able to stream content from a PC.

  17. Will you need a SlingBox in order to stream content to your slingcatcher? Or can it be used standalone?

  18. MHS,

    The primary purpose of a SlingCatcher is to receive streams from a Slingbox.

    However, you will also be able to stream content from a PC, and Sling indicated there will be other content sources – broadband – in the future.

  19. Dave: Will SlingCatcher allow me to view LIVE video from my PC onto my TV, i.e. if I’m watching MLB.com live, can I also stream it to my TV?

  20. Ron, The goal is to stream all PC content from PC to TV. As it gets closer to release, I’ll have more to say on the functionality and tech specs.

    Mega, I wouldn’t say receiving a Slingbox feed is the primary purpose. It’s equally as important as the ‘Sling Projector’ (PC to TV) functionality. And of course there could be other developments down the road…

    (I became a Sling Media employee 2/5/07.)

  21. Fair enough – though I think the primary market for the SlingCatcher is going to be people who already own a Slingbox. At least for the initial period.

  22. Will the SlingCatcher be able to play DVD’s that I’ve backed up to an *.iso image? For example, will the SlingCatcher be able to find an *.iso image on my PC and play the movie?

    What file types will the SlingCatcher play? And what HD resolutions will it support?

  23. So far I’ve had NO interest whatsoever in products like iTV, since they all appear to be locked down to only work with a limited selection of proprietary content.

    The SlingCatcher could be the perfect compliment to my new Sony HD TV if, and only if, it supports the widest possible variety of multimedia formats, codecs, wrappers, resolutions, and aspect ratios. Support for HD quality content would be ideal, but I doubt any wireless network (even 802.11n) has sufficient bandwidth for that.

    If the SlingCatcher can play all my DIVX, XVID, MOV, AVI, and MPG files from my PC to my TV, then you’ve got yourself a customer.

    I am still pissed that Apple released the iTV without this functionality. THIS is the product that Apple should have released. As much of a die-hard Apple fan as I’ve always been, I think the iTV is the stupidest product on the market right now and I can’t imagine who would want to buy one.

  24. Hmm, on closer reading I realize this doesn’t work as I originally thought. Apparently it only streams content from a PC to your TV, and the content must be selected and sent from the PC – not browsed and selected from the TV.

    Still interesting, but not as good as I’d hoped. I’ll wait til it’s released and check out reviews to see how responsive and seamless the experience is before passing further judgment…

  25. I’m curious whether it will work on PAL TV’s as well, being fed an NTSC source. Any ideas?

  26. You can always connect your SlingCatcher to an NTSC->PAL converter. What I’m wondering is whether the SlingCatcher connected to an NTSC TV in the US could receive a PAL SlingBox stream from the UK…

  27. Is this really a real product?

    There is still no mention of this on Sling’s website. (either that, or the search engine doesn’t work).

  28. Yep, I can assure you it’s real – but not yet available for purchase.

  29. Any idea when it is estimated for release?

  30. Will Sling Catcher do everything that the sling Box Pro does also?

  31. Jay, The Slingbox PRO is designed to project your home television content while the SlingCathcer (due early next year) is designed to receive content to the television… from a variety of sources.

    Look for additional and new info out of CES in Vegas in about a week and a half.

  32. But will SlingCatcher be able to play MPEG-2 files direct from a NAS box *without* going via a PC? In other words, I already have an external hard disk in the form of NAS storage, on a 1Gb n/w connection (the QNAP TS-109).

  33. Initially for file playback, those items would be synced over to USB mass storage (hard drive, thumb drive) device attached to the Catcher. Additionally, you’ll be able to stream video that’s playing back on a PC, such as Netflix or iTunes movies. Of course, the killer app is streaming from a Slingbox to a television without a PC in the mix.

  34. Has a release date been finalized yet?

  35. Charlie Huffling October 12, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    It works! It works!
    I got one and set it up, and the video is flawless on the TV that I am slinging to!
    Amazing!
    I watched for 30 minutes just now, and not a single frame was lost!
    Unreal!

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