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03-15-2010, 03:30 PM #1SlingPlayer Mobile, Shaken Not Stirred: Review, Interview and Giveaway
If SlingPlayer Mobile was an action hero, it would be "James Bond."
Control your home TV? Check Sling, Control your DVR? Sling, Watch TV from anywhere with a Wi-Fi or 3G connection? Sling x2. Want to be the envy of the guy next to you? Sure, why not.
Single Tap menu.
If SlingPlayer is "James Bond," then Mobile Product Manager, David Eyler, is "Q." His focus is on "mobile products, including the iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Mobile, and Symbian SlingPlayers. He has also recently been working on DISH Remote Access and Bell Remote PVR for some of those platforms. While researching this article, I had an opportunity to discuss everything from App Sales to the soon to be available Apple iPad with David. Although there were questions he could not answer, he was able to provide insight on how the App works. The creative process at Sling Media is enough to keep Slingbox owners excited about what is coming. In Eylers’ words, “It’s been a blast working here so far. SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone has been a huge success, we are creating some breakthrough TV products, and I’m excited to see them continue to hit the market.”
It all starts with a Slingbox or a SlingLoaded device. Whether you are connecting with Slingplayer on your computer, Slingplayer Mobile on your iPhone/iPod Touch, or via the sling.com website, Sling Media products are more than just a way to stream your cable or satellite. For example, Slingplayer on your computer will allow you to pause, rewind or fast-forward up to 60 minutes of video. With a SlingCatcher, " you can watch and control your main TV and DVR on any other TV in your house or around the world."
SlingPlayer Mobile is a natural extension of the platform and with a recent update that allows streaming over 3G the App really shines. Sitting at the doctor's office?… watch some TV. Layover at the airport longer then you expected?… watch some TV. Standing in line outside your local Apple Store waiting to pick up an iPad?…. priceless watch some TV.
There is also DISH Remote Access which is available to only DISH Network subscribers with one of four supported receivers. I was able to try this enhanced experience and was very pleased. It can best be described as the Slingbox experience baked right in to your DISH receiver and available to you on your iPhone/iPod Touch.
Tap or Swipe.
Number pad for quick channel changing.
The ability to take" your living room TV experience" and bring it to your iPhone/iPod Touch is not a hard sell. You will need a Slingbox at home and of course the SlingPlayer Mobile App on your iDevice. Once the Slingbox and the App are setup, you can take control and start streaming live or recorded TV over a 3G or WiFi connection, change channels with the virtual remote control, pause, fast-forward, rewind, and schedule DVR recordings.
Feature rich menus.
I currently use a Slingbox Pro-HD and owned an original Slingbox. Since 2006, I have used it to stream my local cable service to my desktop, notebook computers and my iPhone. Not only has this been great for the wife and kids when we were on vacation but when I'm on a business trip it beats what is available in the hotel hands down, every time.
The Good: Institutive user interface, favorites list, videos quality adjusts on the fly to corresponding to your connection speed.
The Bad: Can’t adjust double tap function; text is almost illegible when scrolling.
The X Factor: TV anytime anywhere without compromise, additional subscription fees or limitations.
Verdict: Although this App is priced at the high-end, if you already own a compatible Slingbox, you have been missing out, the App is a must have. If you don't own a Slingbox, go buy one and then download the App and see what you have been missing.
SlingPlayer Mobile ($29.99)
Interview with Product Manager, David Eyler (by email, select portions, condensed)
Q: What should we know about the App, the company and user experience?
A: We think the user experience on the iPhone is the best mobile TV experience available in the United States, period. You get all your content from your living room TV, including your DVR, with no monthly fees on a device that you already carry with you.
Q: What do you see as the most over looked feature/benefit?
A: A lot of people don’t realize that you can plug multiple video inputs into the Slingbox PRO-HD. For example, you could plug in a digital over the air antenna if you wanted to change the channel without disturbing a viewer watching the main TV set top box at home. Or you could plug in a security camera and view your house while you were away. Apple TV also works.
Q: The dish stuff is great; I just got done playing with it for the last 10 minutes. What more can you tell me about it? What does the future hold? Ehen do you see a release to the general public?
A: Yeah we’re really excited about the DISH Remote Access integration. I can tell you that we’ve also got a version coming for Bell TV in Canada, and that we look forward to working with other TV operators to deliver the best possible Sling experience to their customers as well. The version you are using is available to the general public now. All you need is one of the supported DISH receivers and a Slingbox. In addition, once DISH launches its first SlingLoaded receiver (which is coming very soon) those users won’t even need a separate Slingbox since it’s already built in!
Q: Why iDevice Apps?
A: Because iDevice users love media and the devices just work. It’s a great combination.
Q: What drives the creative process for upcoming additions/enhancements?
A: It’s a combination of a lot of things. We take into account analytics that show which features are currently popular and which aren’t, feedback from customers and beta testers, and what features are going to work best with new products that we haven’t launched yet. And, of course, the opinions of team members at Sling play a huge role.
Q: Are there any major changes coming up that will enhance the user experience?
A: Yes! But they are secret. Sorry.
Q: Where does your organization stand with regard to App Upgrades in the future? Will you charge for them?
A: While I can’t promise that we will never charge for App Upgrades, I can tell you that we never have and we have no plans to at this time.
Q: How has the App sold?
A: Very well. In fact, it reached #2 on the Top Grossing List after we released the 3G enabled update, it is currently in the 20’s on that list, and Apple featured it as one of the Top Grossing Apps of the year in their Rewind 2009 feature in iTunes.
Q: What technical challenges did the designers/developers face?
A: Decoding video fast enough to get a good frame rate on a mobile device is always a challenge. But we’re very happy with our results and we think this is one of our core strengths at Sling.
Q: Were there items you wanted to include but could not due to SDK or hardware limitations?
A: I would have loved to have a feature where SlingPlayer Mobile reads your mind and shows you the TV program that you think of instantly, but alas, the iPhone lacks a mind reading API.
Q: How will this App look on the iPad? Will an upgrade be needed?
A: We’re still hard at work researching what will be possible on the iPad. But there’s no question that it will be one of the best Sling TV experiences ever.
Q: Can you provide a brief overview of what your intentions are with regard to the iPad?
A: I think the above is all I can really say about the iPad at this time. It is a top priority for Sling – and it will be awesome.
Promo Code Giveaway
For a chance at winning one of two SlingPlayer Mobile promo codes, simply leave a comment about this review and let me know where and when you use your Slingbox, before 11:59 PM PST Thursday, March 18th. The winner will be chosen at random. All winners will be notified via email and private message. Reminder: Compatible Sling device required.
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About the Author: Max-Devin Silver lives in New York with his wife and two children. He is the Owner and Chief Executive of Yakar Holdings, a real estate investment holding company based in Long Island, New York. On occasion, he writes commentary and reviews about mobile devices and applications and how they can be used to help balance both professional and family life.
Last edited by Max-Devin Silver; 03-15-2010 at 03:38 PM.