Archives For Slingbox

comcast-thrones

After taking in the annual Cable Show, what struck me are the increasingly complex relationships – shifting and unpredictable alliances, enemies now friends, competitors snuffed… with the final chapters yet to be written. Much like HBO’s Game of Thrones. Beyond the corporate square dance, there’s clearly increased excitement surrounding TV Everywhere. So head on over to The Verge where I penned an article touching on these topics, including exclusive reveals of TiVo’s forthcoming web portal.

belkin-at-tv

While the Slingbox may be the most well known placeshifting technologies, there have been others… And Sling Media rival Monsoon, makers of HAVA and Vulkano devices, licensed their tech to Belkin under the @TV brand in 2012. Presumably due to Belkin’s broad retail footprint, Sling took issue and launched a patent infringement suit in January. Monsoon has yet to respond, but Belkin and Sling have just worked out a deal (subject to ITC approval) according to Law360:

Sling Media asked the trade body to dismiss Belkin from its investigation into whether rival companies were infringing six patents for the proprietary technology. The two companies said they’d reached a settlement

Sling Needs More Cowbell

Dave Zatz —  March 2, 2013 — 9 Comments

While the new Slingboxes are here, we can’t help but wonder if there’s room in Sling’s lineup for an additional model. We really do appreciate the (partial) HDMI pass-thru and 802.11n capabilities of the Slingbox 500, but we’re not quite certain it lives up to its $300 price tag… yet. Further down the line, we have the Slingbox 350 which is relatively compact and retains the 1080p streaming capabilities of its big brother for $180.

But what about the placeshifting-curious? Those who either aren’t quite sold or perhaps have only an infrequent need to watch their home television content while on the road. I suspect this is where a sub-$100 streamer would get decent traction. And, believe it or not, Sling already manufactures a potential candidate. The Slingbox 120, which is affectionally referred to as ‘The Cowbell’, probably didn’t wind up in many US homes via an exclusive Verizon Wireless rental option but it did hit store shelves in India. The conversion rate still pegs this standard def Slingbox at about $150, but we’re confident the Echostar-backed Sling could mass produce and peddle something similar on modern hardware, under $100 a pop… for those without the integrated slinging capabilities of a DISH Hopper 2, anyway. And, while they’re at it, let’s further reduce the price of the SlingPlayer mobile client from $14.99 to $9.99 (and produce a universal iOS app). Continue Reading…

neotv-slingbox

Among Sling Media and Netgear’s various CES announcements is news that Slingbox streaming is coming to the NeoTV line of streamers. Of course, we’d probably expect a repurposing of the original Flash-based Logitech Revue SlingPlayer for the new (and slightly bulkier) NeoTV Prime running Google TV. But the more Roku-esque models, including the NeoTV MAX we reviewed, will also receive dedicated apps – perhaps as soon as next week. So, for the first time, you can get your hands on a “SlingCatcher” for as little as 50 bucks and stream your Slingbox content to another television in your home… or perhaps to a set in the ski lodge, given sufficient bandwidth. Of course the follow-on question is, “Where’s the Roku client?” And while Sling reps weren’t prepared to elaborate, I get the sense there are both technical and business considerations at play.

blake-hbo-go-hdtv

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.

slingbox-500-packaging

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…

new-slingbox

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…