GoogleTV Slingbox Client Enters Beta

Dave Zatz —  June 2, 2011 — 30 Comments

Unveiled at CES in January, EchoStar’s Slingbox client for Google TV is nearly ready for its closeup. And, I have to say, it’s probably the most exciting new development out of Sling since we they were acquired.

Instead of relying on a large software package or proprietary browser plugin, the first “SlingPlayer for Connected Devices” rev is essentially a Flash-based website. Connect a Slingbox to your home entertainment gear and stream your content anywhere in the world you’ve got access to a web browser. Including that GoogleTV in the other room. Despite recent and frequent Adobe Flash negativity, it’s fairly ubiquitous and this is as close as clientless we’ll get in the placeshifting realm.

But, you know what would excite me even more? A Roku Slingbox “channel” – it’d enhance relevance (and sales!) for both these companies. You can’t beat a $60 SlingCatcher… I know it’s something I’d enjoy putting to use.

If you’re interested in checking out the GoogleTV Slingbox beta, register here.

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30 responses to GoogleTV Slingbox Client Enters Beta

  1. As possibly the most slimy or clever blogger at CES, I photographed Sling’s demo URL… ;) So you’ll have a few hours to check it out now before the folks on the west coast wake up and shut it down. You’re welcome.

  2. Hi Dave, what do you see as the normal use-case for a Slingcatcher on Google TV?

  3. It’s sort of a hacked together whole-home DVR. Let’s say my Premiere is upstairs (it is) and my Google TV is downstairs (it is). I can stream all my DVR-ed shows to the living room TV. So that’s one example. Roku is a better use case – because they’re inexpensive and small. Small enough to travel with… or ship to out-of-state relatives who can’t get their former home team on TV. Also, I’ve stayed at a few Hyatt Places that have awesome AV panels and at least once we brought the Roku with us.

  4. Makes sense. My Slingbox Pro HD is one of the most unused electronic devices in my house. I’ve used it a few times while on travel especially overseas. Once TiVo releases the TiVoTwin (Megazone’s terminology) I guess it will be the equivalent for the whole-home DVR concept. An Apple TV sized device might be interesting to travel with but I expect we’ll see this sort of thing integrated in tablets with HDMI out in the near future.

  5. “But, you know what would excite me even more? A Roku Slingbox “channel” – it’d enhance relevance (and sales!) for both these companies. You can’t beat a $60 SlingCatcher… I know it’s something I’d enjoy putting to use.”

    Given that it’s 2011 instead of 2007, isn’t this a bit more exciting and relevant on the same topic?

  6. Sam, MZ and I exchanged a few emails on the naming of TiVo’s extender. I couldn’t come up with anything better, but I don’t like TiVoTwin. More importantly, I’d say it’s 50/50 this will ever hit retail. They’re clearly developing it as a standard cable box for their MSO partners. Launching in retail is expensive. Explaining what this does will be difficult. If they do go retail, I imagine it’d be online only for folks like us who understand its value.

    Related to your HDMI comment, I beileve the Sling iOS app was updated to allow component video out. I haven’t tried it, but it could be useful if not clean.

    Chucky, speaking of clean, a CE device on either end is preferable to running your own media server. Also, as far as I know, Plex is limited to recorded content/files while Silng also provides live television, VOD, whatever. Also, I haven’t checked – but how’s Plex’s out-of-home streaming capabilities?

  7. “Also, I haven’t checked – but how’s Plex’s out-of-home streaming capabilities?”

    I’m not a road warrior, and I don’t fancy watching video on pocket-sized screens, so I don’t know first-hand. But it supposedly streams over the WAN pretty much right out of the box. Second-hand, lots of Plex users seem happy about the WAN streaming. And I do know from actual experience that LAN streaming works nicely.

    “Sam, MZ and I exchanged a few emails on the naming of TiVo’s extender. I couldn’t come up with anything better, but I don’t like TiVoTwin.”

    How ’bout TiVoeXistenZ? It’s got lots of intercaps, which means it must be good. Plus, it could include a Chinese Restaurant app…

  8. “Also, as far as I know, Plex is limited to recorded content/files”

    FWIW, while I and most other folks rely on Plex for recorded content, they do have less fully developed “Plug-in” capabilities that allow for live OTT viewing. You can watch Netflix or Hulu via Plex, for example, though there are better methods.

    About the only things I watch OTT via Plex are the extended John Stewart interviews that aren’t part of the broadcast show, and Charlie Rose interviews. And not only does it does work for such purposes, but it would also stream such things over the LAN or WAN…

  9. Wow, a Sling client that works on Linux…

  10. “I’d say it’s 50/50 this will ever hit retail. ”

    I would say the odds of a TiVo extender hitting retail/online are much higher than 50%. Can you imagine the outrage on TCF if TiVo releases a Premiere extender that the retail community can’t get their hands on?

    Regarding the name I like TiVoMate much better than twin. :)

  11. Wow I forgot about the secret URL. I used it a few times after CES and figured it would have been pulled down.

    Works great! (Although it does not seem to support the DISH 922 or DISH 722 with Sling Adapter.)

    I am sure the actual beta will be using a later version of the client and not the old client which is on the CES site. :)

  12. “Regarding the name I like TiVoMate much better than twin.”

    “TiVooViT”?

    “TiVo Part Deux”?

    The real problem with the suggestions offered is that the purpose of an extender isn’t really to have a “twin” or a “mate”. The relationship is more dependent.

    Unfortunately, the best way of using the name to convey the product’s purpose would be “TiVo Satellite”, in the sense of a smaller object that orbits a bigger object, but that doesn’t work for obvious reasons.

    Otherwise, how ’bout “TiVo EveryRoom?”

  13. Based on what I’ve heard it’s not entirely an extender, not entirely dependent. It has it’s own CableCARD slot and presumably an associated tuner. It’s basically a non-DVR TiVo cable STB. That happens to receive streamed recordings from Premieres in the home.

  14. “Based on what I’ve heard it’s not entirely an extender, not entirely dependent. It has it’s own CableCARD slot and presumably an associated tuner. It’s basically a non-DVR TiVo cable STB. That happens to receive streamed recordings from Premieres in the home.”

    Hell, then it’s easy. Just rebrand the Tivo as “TiVo Pro”, brand the extender + tuner as “TiVo”, pat yourself on the back for a hard day’s work, and then just go sell the things.

  15. And btw, Dave, you should really check out eXistenZ, if you haven’t seen it before. They have the crappy StarzPlay mutant variant available on Netflix streaming, but it regularly windows onto the premium cable channels, (though it’s not available in the next two weeks), so you should perhaps wait and get the HD version via CableCARD, as I have done.

    As a gamer and computer/video tinkerer, the flick should be right up your alley.

    (The Netflix streaming title in glorious HD that I’d recommend for ZNF readers is We Live in Public. Be forewarned that it’s definitely got a downbeat vibe, but the content matter should be relevant.)

  16. For over a decade TiVo has been synonymous with DVR, that’s the challenge to overcome. Of course, they could have dealt with this years ago had they licensed their UI/experience to non-DVR DVD players and similar as I’ve always suggested.

    I’ve seen eXistenZ a couple of times, but way back around when it was released – not in years.

  17. “I’ve seen eXistenZ a couple of times, but way back around when it was released – not in years.”

    I enjoy rewatching good movies, which is one of the reasons I’m pro-local caching. I saw eXistenZ in the cinema upon release, but I caught it again on a cable a few years later and continued to like it enough to now have the 1080 CableCARD version sitting on a platter drive.

  18. “For over a decade TiVo has been synonymous with DVR, that’s the challenge to overcome.”

    “TiVo Mini”?

    “TiVo Puppy”?

    (Everyone loves puppies. And they can leverage the fact in ads that you can watch cute puppy videos on YouTube on the extender.)

  19. Whatever they call the thingamajig, they should run ads that show an animated TiVo logo cavorting with a couple of smaller animated TiVo logo ‘children’ as a family at play…

  20. Heh, I love the naming debate. I don’t like ‘TiVoMate’ because it is too close to a rip on MoxiMate. I liked MoxiMate’s M-M phonetic beat, so I thought of something like that with TiVo – T-T – TiVoTwin.

    I first brought this up on TiVo’s Facebook wall: https://www.facebook.com/megazone/posts/10150150359365178

    I thought of TiVo Jr. and I had the idea of a little TiVo guy with the ‘normal’ TiVo guy as a family. I don’t think they want to do ‘TiVo Pro’ & ‘TiVo’ because, as Dave said, ‘TiVo’ already means ‘DVR’. The new device needs the new name, and hopefully something that implies some kind of link or dependency to the full TiVo (like TiVoTwin), or even that it is a lesser product (like TiVo Jr.).

    TiVo Mini just sounds like a compact TiVo to me. Of course, we’ll probably end up with some soulless corporate name like “The TiVo Multi-Room Extender” or “The TiVo Media Receiver” or something like that. In which case I’ll keep pushing ‘TiVoTwin’ as the short hand. I *will* make it stick! ;-)

    As for the new SlingPlayer for Connected Devices (talk about a soulless corporate name) – it is about frakking time! I suggested this kind of thing so many times while at Sling. I argued that we needed H.264 for mobile devices, and Flash also did H.264, so we should create a Flash-based player. I also argued for a BD-J version to turn any connected Blu-ray player into a catcher.

    Now I’m wondering if the Slingbox could house a small httpd and stream video in HTML5… Maybe next generation, if there is one.

  21. Hm, Sling retweeted me… yet the CES demo site/URL is still live.

    MZ, I took great pride in getting the blogosphere to refer to the eventual “TiVo HD” as the “Series 3 Lite.” ;)

  22. Will this same setup be the same way users will be able to use their slingplayer with PS3? Also, why will this not work with Sling adapter for dish?

  23. Brian, the final product may very well work with the Sling Adapter. Scott was testing an early prototype. Regarding the PS3, if that link in the photo is still working when you get home give it a shot and let us know!

  24. Chucky, if you can use Plex to watch Hulu (not Plus) on a plex client, Google TV or otherwise, aren’t you concerned Roku will get a take-down for the client?

    As far as slinging inside the home, meh. I guess if you have no other choice, but I’d rather not take the latency and quality hit myself. I’ll just go watch that thing in the other room.

  25. This does work for the PS3. Just tested it. Seems pretty nice.

  26. Steve Purtell June 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Dave,

    Will slingbox be adding “airplay” to its iOS software? or are they wiating for an apple TV store to put a catcher like device on?

  27. I forgot about that demo url. I created some videos and screen shots from it but never posted them. It’s probably a moot point at this time though since I would think they would have upgraded the UI a bunch by now.

    There have been a couple of guys that have set up a “private” channel on Roku to watch their recorded videos from Monsoon’s Vulkano but being able to stream live via Slingbox or Vulkano with a Roku would definitely increase sales for everyone involved.

  28. “Chucky, if you can use Plex to watch Hulu (not Plus) on a plex client, Google TV or otherwise, aren’t you concerned Roku will get a take-down for the client?”

    No. Not in the least. The “plug-ins” are a minor addition to the core Plex function of being a media manager for recorded files. If any one plug-in proved a deeply thorny legal issue, I assume Plex would just disable it.

    That said, all the plug-ins seem kosher to me. Plex doesn’t avoid the web ads the sites want to run, so revenue streams are in place. And considering that Apple, Google, and LG have all approved the Plex client, I’d say that legal issues aren’t a big problem.

    Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the Plex server runs as a normal “PC” app on OS X, Windows, or Linux, and any legal issues it dances around take place on the server side. The client apps that things like Roku, LG, iOS, and Android run are just talking to your own server on your own home PC. The Plex client is somewhat akin to a VNC client in that sense. If you are doing something improper on your home machine, it’s not the problem of the VNC client…

  29. Sling URL no longer works….I sooo wanted to use it…I am sick of using my slingcatcher for streaming. Wanted to use my PS3…

    Well maybe in the next 10 years…

  30. I recently moved from my home town of Chicago to Florida. I was looking into slingbox (connected at my parents home) to watch on the Sony Google tv I am planning on buying. I can’t seem to find a definite answer on this, but can I watch the slingbox hd pro on the new Google tv or is it blocked/not availble yet?

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