Archives For Slingbox

Everyone wants in on the EPG business. That’s one of the conclusions I took away from the SCTE Cable Tec-Expo event earlier this month. Even as CE manufacturers are pumping up the volume on connected devices with their own video interfaces, vendors in the cable TV world are pushing a range of solutions that tie the electronic program guide into larger content management systems for pay-TV operators. I talked about Rovi’s TotalGuide EPG a couple weeks back, and there’s Arris’ Moxi guide, but those two are far from the only players in this game. Here’s a sample of three other companies touting their own guide solutions.

Clearleap

Clearleap is perhaps better known in the world of Internet delivery than it is in the cable industry, but the company is rapidly carving out a niche among MSOs. Speaking with CTO John Carlucci at the SCTE event, I learned that Clearleap has a hosted, white-label guide on the market, and that it offers media services to help operators manage, encode and deliver video to connected devices. Clearleap’s solutions are strictly IP-based, but they’re already being used by Verizon for its VOD platform, and Carlucci says the company’s in trials with “four of the top five” operators for its media services. As for the guide specifically, Clearleap’s solution could be a compelling one for tier-2 and tier-3 operators. The service runs on a pay-as-you-go model, and Clearleap is rapidly adding advanced features. The company recently integrated with Great Lakes Data Systems (GLDS) to add options for a-la-carte transactions that are tied back to a subscriber’s monthly cable bill. (Think additional IP content purchases on top of the monthly subscription) Carlucci says social features are on the way. Orbitel, a small cableco out of Arizona, launched the Clearleap/GLDS solution in October to create a branded VOD experience on subscriber Roku boxes.

Motorola

Motorola showed up with a reference EPG back at the Cable Show in 2010, but that’s as far as the company had ventured into the guide world until this fall. Continue Reading…

Boxee Now Streams Slingbox

Dave Zatz —  November 22, 2011 — 16 Comments

Hot on the heels of their Facebook Slingbox app, EchoStar has just officially unveiled a SlingPlayer for Connected Devices. While it’s been in beta testing for some time and we expected to see initial support for Google TV, the Boxee Box (~$180) is up first.

The Slingbox (~$150) has always allowed one to view their home television on the go or around the house, yet there’s never been a way to do so in a lean-back fashion… beyond the half-baked SlingCatcher. So this SlingPlayer for Connected Devices effectively turns gadgets we already own into virtual Catchers for TV-to-TV viewing. And, I’m pleasantly surprised to see it’s being offered without a one-time or recurring fee.

Unfortunately, this first iteration is probably Flash-based like the aforementioned Facebook app, limiting it’s distribution and potential – due to the small number of Flash-capable set-top boxes and Adobe’s abandonment of “digital home devices”. An even better solution? Non-Flash Slingbox apps for Roku and Apple TV.

(via TechCrunch)

Earlier today, Echostar launched their Slingplayer for Facebook application enabling Slingbox SOLO (~$150) and Slingbox PRO-HD (~$250) owners to stream their home television content through one of the worlds most popular web destinations. (demo video above) Unlike the stand-alone computer applications or existing web players, this requires no software install… meaning folks might experience more flexibility in how and where they view their feed (work,a friend’s home, Kinkos). Sling’s probably also banking on the social nature of Facebook as we advertise their solution to our friends. Unfortunately, the still mostly ubiquitous Flash browser plugin is required and owners of older Slingbox models need not apply.

Speaking of Flash, I suspect this web app features the same underpinnings as the Google TV SlingPlayer demo-ed at CES and upcoming Boxee implementation. Unfortunately, there’s still no word when that SlingPlayer for Connected Devices will launch… or if it’ll carry with it some sort of monthly access fee. All the more reason to identify what URL Sling’s new Facebook app is calling? Continue Reading…

Looks like I missed a good time in NYC last week. Amidst the pre, pre-holiday tech events, gdgt hosted Sling Media. Who reiterated their intentions to provide a leanback interface for Slingbox viewing. Basically, a SlingCatcher… without a SlingCatcher. At CES, SlingPlayer for Connected Devices was demo-ed on Google TV. Which I discovered was merely a Flash-based webpage, versus a dedicated app. Fortunately, that opens the door for easily servicing all sorts of platforms. Enter, the Boxee experience filmed by Engadget above at gdgt’s shindig.

While it seems we’re stuck with the laborious “SlingPlayer” naming convention, the otherwise compelling service is expected to enter public beta as soon as next month. You’ll need a Slingbox SOLO or a PRO-HD, but it’s not quite clear which Connected Devices will be supported on the other end. At the very least, Google TV is a lock, with a shortcut to be found the Spotlight section, as is a listing under Boxee’s Apps. So those are the brokered deals. But, as a webpage, there may be other hardware options available. Like the PS3?

Unfortunately, it’s not clear yet if this service will be saddled with a fee. And, if so, would Sling go with a monthly subscription or follow in their mobile app footsteps with something like a one time $30 charge? Regardless, color me interested. Although, in-home and given the latency, I think I’d prefer TiVo Premiere-to-Premiere or FiOS DVR-to-DVR streaming.

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. Continue Reading…

slingbox-120It’s been a loooong time since we’ve seen a new retail Slingbox. In fact, the Slingbox PRO-HD was introduced way back in January 2008. Well, it turns out a new dedicated placeshifter will be hitting store shelves shortly. In India. The low-end Slingbox 120 runs 7,999 Rupees (~$180), but only accepts and streams standard definition composite input. Making the 14,999 Rupee Slingbox PRO-HD a potentially better value.

Interestingly, we have seen this Slingbox once before here in the states… Engadget uncovered it as the freebie unit to be bundled with Verizon’s SlingPlayer service and client – but that’s yet to launch. And I have my doubts it ever will. Also, interestingly, Sling has had an office in India (Bangalore) since the beginning. However, this marks the first time units have actually been available for purchase there.

Vulkano Flow

Vulkano Flow, the first of two new Monsoon Multimedia placeshifters announced at CES, is now available for purchase from the likes of Amazon and Fry’s Electronics for a mere $99. Making it the least expensive Slingbox-esque product on the market.

Unlike Moonsoon’s 2010 Vulkano product that tried to do it all, with less than stellar results, the Vulkano Flow attempts to do one thing well — stream television content around and beyond your home. I’ve been evaluating the Flow for several weeks and it largely succeeds. In fact, you’ve already seen it in action (here and here).

As with all personal, hardware-based placeshifting solutions the Vulkano Flow hangs off your set-top box or between a STB and television. In my case, the Flow has primarily been used to beam FiOS TV DVR video to Mac, PC, iPhone, and Android software clients. While Sling still stubbornly refuses to integrate wireless capabilities, the Vulkano Flow can optionally connect to your home network via 802.11n – which is the config I’ve been using. And the streaming experience over WiFi, both within and beyond the home, has been very good. 3G, not so much.

Vulkano Flow

The hardware is contained within the same or a very similar enclosure as the original Vulkano (“Platinum”) which will presumably also be reused for the upcoming Blast… given the taped over SD slot and functionless IR receiver. But for 99 bucks, I can’t complain. In terms of size, the Vulkano is wider than all Slingboxes, but with a much lower profile – it sits well in the cabinet on a DVR. Streaming resolution is equivalent to the Slingbox Solo, maxing out at 720×480. So while the Flow can take in your HD content, the encoded retransmission is limited to standard def. However when on the road, especially via mobiles, this shouldn’t be a practical problem. Continue Reading…