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Slingbox release date update?  

post #1 of 716
Thread Starter 
Ok, so I know the official word in the Slingbox is a release in the first half of this year. Seeing as how we're now into Q2, has anyone heard anything more specific than that? I'm eager to give this sucker a try.

Jeff

EDIT:

Since there have been various questions that have come up a number of times in the thread, perhaps links to some of those answers may be helpful. Blake Krikorian is the CEO of Sling Media and has been kind enough to participate in the forum to answer questions about the product.

Link to the feature request thread.

Link to the "Where do you watch your Slingbox?" thread.

Link to Blake's post regarding multiple sources and input switching thread. (the following link also contains info on input switching)

Link to Blake's post discussing future plans for remote control customization and expansion.

Link to Blake's post regarding current as well as future platform support (Windows Mobile, Palm, Mac, etc)

Link to Blake's post regarding stream bitrates and the current maximum limit.

Link and link to Blake's post regarding W2K support.

Link and link to Blake's post regarding bridging options.

Link to Blake's post regarding the DirecTivo D10 IR issue.

Link to Blake's post regarding HD DirecTivo setup.

Link to Blake's post regarding NTSC and PAL support.
post #2 of 716
Thread Starter 
No info? Not even unsubstantiated speculation? ;)
post #3 of 716
I also am very interested in this product. I am sure someone has some industry info on what is happening?
post #4 of 716
Thread Starter 
I've seen people mention and throw out Orb.com as a pliable alternative available now that is also free, but that doesn't work for me. I don't have a PC located in or near my HT equipment and don't want to have to put one there. While Orb's solution does support regular XP (also supports XP Media Center), you need to have a capture card, which I also don't have. All in all, the Slingbox solution is better suited for my setup.

So, if anyone has heard anything about a release date or even a time frame when they might start taking pre-orders, please post.
post #5 of 716
Any word about Slingbox???
post #6 of 716
Thread Starter 
It's funny, for a product that seemed to generate buzz at the end of last year, there's really no new info on it since shortly after CES. We're almost in June, so unless they will start rolling it out next month, they need to update the first half of 2005 estimate. It's unfortunate not to see any info as the product realy does look promising. Certainly makes you wonder if it will remain in the vaporware realm. Perhaps a funding issue or litigation threat concern?
post #7 of 716
I'm starting to wonder the same thing. I just picked up the most recent issue of Laptop and the Slingbox is listed as a suggestion for a Father's Day gift. Considering, there hasn't been any word from the company since CES, starting to think something went wrong. With the success of orb and the price (free) the slingbox better transmit TV and a pretty high quality to be successful. It the TV experience even over a broadband connection is mediocre, no one will buy this product.
post #8 of 716
Hey guys,

just wanted you to know that we will indeed make our 1H date...just in time ;-)

we have been heads down, busting our rears making improvements suggested by our beta testers.

there will be a few announcements in the coming weeks about our retail partners and specific on-the-store-shelf date (it takes a bit of time for things to work thru all the logistics chain), which may miss the 1H by a few days...still being worked thru.

we're really jazzed about the retailers we are launching with...and will have other great ones coming online shortly thereafter.

thanks for your continued patience and interest...very much looking forward to your hearing of your experiences/suggestions..

Cheers,

Blake Krikorian
Sling Media

p.s. a LONG OVERDUE website overhaul will be up in the coming weeks as well. :-)
post #9 of 716
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by blake_k
Hey guys,

just wanted you to know that we will indeed make our 1H date...just in time ;-)

we have been heads down, busting our rears making improvements suggested by our beta testers.

there will be a few announcements in the coming weeks about our retail partners and specific on-the-store-shelf date (it takes a bit of time for things to work thru all the logistics chain), which may miss the 1H by a few days...still being worked thru.

we're really jazzed about the retailers we are launching with...and will have other great ones coming online shortly thereafter.

thanks for your continued patience and interest...very much looking forward to your hearing of your experiences/suggestions..

Cheers,

Blake Krikorian
Sling Media

p.s. a LONG OVERDUE website overhaul will be up in the coming weeks as well. :-)

Blake,

Thanks for the update. It's always nice to see a company rep take an active role on forums such as these especially when they have a newly anticipated product coming out. Please keep us informed as to product availability. I know there are some folks out there like myself who will be eager to get their hands on one from whomever offers them first. Even news about someone taking pre-orders would be welcomed. Thanks again and I'm looking forward to its release.

Jeff
post #10 of 716
Thread Starter 
Blake,

I do have one question about the box's capabilitites if you don't mind. It appears to be for use with a single source. Is your current business model to only offer a Slingbox version that is for single sources only? You could use an external switcher or AV switching receiver/pre-amp, but then you run into the issue of IR commands to multiple devices (if the Slingbox isn't designed to send IR codes for more than one device). Yes I know you could probably use multiple Slingboxes, one for each source, but then you're quickly multiplying the cost. Any insight on this? Thanks.

Jeff
post #11 of 716
Hey Jeff,

First off, it is important to break out the capabilities of the hardware/embedded software and the software application (SlingPlayer).

1) as you may know, the Slingbox hardware has what I would call "two and a half" AV inputs: one SVID, one CVBS (composite), one shared analog L/R audio, and one built-in TV tuner.

2) the SlingPlayer software that resides on your client device does have the ability to switch between those inputs, though there a few steps one must go thru to do so (it is not a simply flick of a switch). This was by design...feedback from early user testing...simplicity was the key early on...this could be something we change in subsequent versions of the player...need to wait and see what type of feedback we get from our early customers. I can tell you that a few of our beta testers have already asked for this.

Your point about controlling AV receivers and multiple devices is a good one. In theory, you could attach a Slingbox to the Multi-room Output of your AV Receiver and have a multi-headed IR blaster. However, we do not currently support IR commands for AV Receivers, so that won't work in reality. We have first been concentrating on supporting the wide variety of cable/sat/dvr/dvd/cd boxes out there...we have very broad coverage on those boxes, but we can improve there as well.

We have considered offering a special AV switcher that the Slingbox can control, but personally I am not sure that is such a good idea. This would not really work for me in my setup as i already have all my stuff going thru either my pre-amp or video processor. But perhaps this could be a good solution...this is a great example of why we can't wait to get real feedback from customers! Our beta testers have been giving us awesome feedback and getting even more from a wider variety of folks will be great.

Hopefully this answers your question...

--Blake

p.s. if you haven't already done so, go to our website and click on the 'keep me posted' button (or something like that) and we will be sure to get you the latest info as it becomes available.
post #12 of 716
Thread Starter 
Blake,

Great response and thanks for the info. If I may, I'd like to add my thoughts to the list of those you've gotten from folks thusfar:

Quote:
Originally Posted by blake_k
2) the SlingPlayer software that resides on your client device does have the ability to switch between those inputs, though there a few steps one must go thru to do so (it is not a simply flick of a switch). This was by design...feedback from early user testing...simplicity was the key early on...this could be something we change in subsequent versions of the player...need to wait and see what type of feedback we get from our early customers. I can tell you that a few of our beta testers have already asked for this.
Well, it looks like you folks are really trying to take users' wants and needs into consideration. That's great. In my situation, the "flick of a switch" would be more desirable then having to go back through the setup process or something along those lines in order to switch inputs. What I have is a situation where I would like to use both the RF and S-video inputs. The former for the security camera feeds I have modulated and distributed throughout the house and the latter for my DirecTivo. I can see other people doing the same thing to try and get 2 sources into the Slingbox in its current form. Hopefully, there will be enough user feedback to warrant such a software change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blake_k
Your point about controlling AV receivers and multiple devices is a good one. In theory, you could attach a Slingbox to the Multi-room Output of your AV Receiver and have a multi-headed IR blaster. However, we do not currently support IR commands for AV Receivers, so that won't work in reality. We have first been concentrating on supporting the wide variety of cable/sat/dvr/dvd/cd boxes out there...we have very broad coverage on those boxes, but we can improve there as well.

We have considered offering a special AV switcher that the Slingbox can control, but personally I am not sure that is such a good idea. This would not really work for me in my setup as i already have all my stuff going thru either my pre-amp or video processor. But perhaps this could be a good solution...this is a great example of why we can't wait to get real feedback from customers! Our beta testers have been giving us awesome feedback and getting even more from a wider variety of folks will be great.
I can certainly see why you've focused on IR codes for certain devices at the outset. It makes sense and the level of complexity expands when you start getting into AV devices. You then have to account for the management of multiple IR codesets (AV receiver plus all of the sources you are feeding into it).

I agree with you that the switcher does present its own challenges. You could provide pass throughs for all inputs but that impacts cost as well as raises the concern of signal degradation. Additionally, you step into the multiple IR codeset complexity issue. In the long run, receiver control may be your best bet to satisfy most users who have multiple sources.

I have tried out Sony's Location Free TV solution, so I have some experience with placeshifting. It was pretty cool being able to watch something off of my Tivo at home while at my in-laws house. Your solution dramatically expands the capabilities of such viewing and is much preferred, in my opinion.

If there is a suggestion I could make from that experience, it has to do with the buttons offered for the IR codesets. It would be nice to allow users to not only import their own codesets (eliminates the problem of unique devices), but also customize the button layout to accomodate any of these imported device codesets. I would assume that you may be using some common button layouts for certain types of devices, but many devices have specialty functions and buttons that could be useful even when viewing from afar.

Thanks again for posting.


Jeff
post #13 of 716
Thanks Jeff...

1) i just spoke with my team regarding the multiple input thing: it is already in the plan for a future player release (of course, original purchasers of the slingbox will get this update)

2) the same thing applies to the remote control buttons...actually, we are working on some pretty cool stuff there that provides a bunch of flexibility. the initial version of the software is slightly more customized than sony's product...but we can do better. our goal is to make your placeshifting experience to be just like the familiar experience you have while sitting on your couch in front of the main tv...familiar remote control commands is certainly part of that goal.

3) since you have used the sony product, i am very curious to hear your feedback/experience once using our product...especially as it relates to all of our dynamic stream optimization software (code named "Lebowski" and now will be called SlingStream technology) that deals with changes in available bandwith and also reduces the latency when trying to change channels or navigate on-screen menus.
post #14 of 716
Thread Starter 
Blake,

Great responses again. Point 1 takes care of the only real issue I had and solidifies my purchase as soon as they are out. I like what you're thinking with point 2. Places like Remote Central can provide your engineers with tons of resources for tweaking the control software. Heck, you could even do what the folks at Universal Remote Control did by allowing IR codes imports from Pronto CCF files. Given the huge database of Pronto files out there, something like this makes customization much easier than trying to start from scratch.

As for number 3, I'll certainly let you know. The assumption in all this is that the streaming software will work as advertised working within the bounds of the available bandwidth. That being said, I was a little less than impressed with what Sony did in their application. From a future upgradeability POV, I like your solution better as the software solution on one end (vs their proprietary hardware on both ends - for others reading this thread who may not be familier with Sony's solution - firmware upgrades tend to be released slower than software upgrades in my experience) allows you to easily tweak the compression codec options, etc. I have faith that you guys will do much better in this department.

By the way, I see we're both MC-12 owners. Something tells me that if you guys do offer AV control later on, the Lex family will be on the priority list. ;)
post #15 of 716
Blake,

Thanks for coming on the board and and providing some info. Considering the Slingbox was announced last summer, I was getting concerned it was destined to become vaporware. I've been highly anticipating the release and think it would make a great father's day present (any chance it will be out by then?).

My one question relates to the software. Will there only be a pc version at launch or will you also support Windows Mobile, Windows Smartphone, Palm, and Symbian.

Thanks for the info.
post #16 of 716
Hey Lefty,

No prob...but, just to be clear, we did not 'announce' the slingbox last summer...we unveiled an early prototype to a small set of people at Walt Mossberg's and Kara Swisher's WSJ D conference. Then, there was an article written about us in Forbes sometime in the late summer. We have been trying to lay pretty low and concentrate on getting the product out...as you know, there is a HUGE difference between a prototype and something that you 'should' sell to consumers. Unfortunately, many companies do not follow those guidelines...Sling Media does and will...we are consumers just like you guys...and HATE it when we buy products that are not ready for prime time.

No doubt we can continue to improve and make the Slingbox even better than it is now. But it is my feeling that this baby is ready to ship! I hope your reviews/comments will concur....and also provide us with constructive feedback for how we can make it better.

We 'unveiled' the Slingbox at this year's CES in January and announced that it would be available in the first half of this year at a price point of $249. We are sticking to that (well, may be off by 1 or 2 weeks ;-)). I agree that the Slingbox would make a great Father's day present...well, maybe a belated Father's Day present sounds a little better ;-) (hopefully Dad will like it so much that waiting a few more weeks is no biggie)

So, enough of that...

Regarding software and clients, here's the plan:
when we release the product it will support XP PC's (notebooks and desktops and tablets).
Then, we will roll out support for other platforms (we have publically demonstrated all of the platforms that you mention with the exception of Palm...not that we won't support Palm, just haven't shown it)...also, there are other very cool mobile devices with nice bright screens and wireless connectivity...one more thing: many folks have asked us to create a Mac client as well.

So, we will be offering clients for other devices/platforms in the coming months...we have a very robust firmware update capability in the Slingbox as well, so we could even deploy different audio/video codecs to your box if we deem necessary.

--Blake
post #17 of 716
Thanks for the response. I know that future Windows Mobile 5.0 users will appreciate a slingplayer release for that operating system at approximately the same time devices with it show up in the marketplace (September/October).

Since I'm sure you have had ample opportunity to put the Slingbox through its paces, can you comment on the video quality and the required bandwidth. Many cable/dsl modems allow 4-6 Mbit/s downloads but significantly slower uploads (384k-768k). Will the video quality improve with faster upload speeds? (assuming the desktop or laptop running slingplayer has a 4-6Mbit/s connection). Or is bandwidth above a certain point not utilized.

I have had the opportunity to use Orb, as I'm sure you have, and the video quality, even over broadband connections is often sub-par. Can you comment on the video quality of the Slingbox versus Orb.

Thanks, and I can't wait to review the Slingbox.
post #18 of 716
Blake,

Any updates? The webiste is still the same and not a peep from the company. The only mention of the Slingbox was in a recent PC World article that did not give a flattering review.
post #19 of 716
Thread Starter 
Lefty,

For the latest news on the Slingbox, keep an eye on this site. The site owner be getting a review piece a couple of weeks before the general release. I'm sure he'll post news of teh arrival as soon as he gets it with updates shortly after on how it functions.

Jeff
post #20 of 716
We have received them at CompUSA already but we can not sell them until the 30th I think.
post #21 of 716
Hey Lefty,

i think DAlba may have answered your question ;-)

This is what I can tell you:

* when we announce our availability date, you will actually be able to drive down to the store and pick one up that very same day

* I promised you guys we would ship in the 1H of this year...and said we would make it just barely...i will keep that promise to you...reminds me of how i dealt with homework when i was in school...i would get it in on time, but not until the very last second...guess some things never change :-)

* our new website should be going up over the weekend or beginning of next week. it probably wont have lots of new content when it first goes up, but it will get filled out over the next several days after that.

* The Slingbox will be available nationwide via 2 great retail chains at launch. We won't be taking direct/online orders until several weeks after that. We will likely have limited availability at launch, so our top priority is to do our best to adequately supply our initial retail partners.

So, we are really happy to say that our launch is imminent.

All the guys on the Sling team are really excited...we really hope you guys like the Slingbox! Looking forward to getting some great feedback as well...

--Blake
post #22 of 716
Thread Starter 
Blake,

Thanks for the info. Since I'm a guy that usually hates to wait for delivery after ordering a product, I'll be glad to have it in hand the first day and I'd assume a market the size of Atlanta will have them available then. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on one.

Here's an industry related question for you. How do you see content providers and distributors reacting to placeshifting as it grows in popularity? I ask this question because I've seen several magazine articles and internet posts in the last few months where people have recommended the Slingbox and various other placeshifting solutions as a way for people to watch out of region and even out of country content. In most cases, the question posed was in relation to someone moving far away (usually internationally) and wanted to be able to watch their favorite shows, teams, etc.

So, you'd be talking about having a friend or family member have a placeshifting solution that the displaced individual could access. I would guess that users slinging their own paid for content is within their fair use rights but this alternative scenario seems a bit more grey. You could envision a situation where people share content that is supposed to be region limited or is shared to avoid having multiple users pay for that content. We're not talking about people passing around VHS tapes, placeshifting technology gives you the ability to share live content in real time.

Do bandwidth limitations minimize the potential for abuse in the technology? Is placeshifting even something that could possibly infringe on the rights of content owners and distributors? It just seems that with all the previous Napster hoopla, DVD decrypting lawsuits, and attacks on bit torrent networks, could this be a coming fight? Just curious.

Jeff
post #23 of 716
Hey Jeff,

First off, I am sure there will be a store near you. Looking forward to hearing about your experiences and recommendations.

Regarding your questions about the industry reaction, I think there are many reasons why the Slingbox is a good/additive thing (e.g. ability to reach your audience when they are at work, ability to reach them while they are at home working on the PC rather than staring at the TV, etc.), and that has been in line with the majority of talks we have had with potential industry partners.

While I have not seen the posts and articles you mention about out of region programming, I want to make it very clear that the Slingbox is intended for personal use only by allowing you to redirect your TV signal or video source (i have a camera on my front door connected to a slingbox) to your own personal device.

We believe the Slingbox respects the rights of copyright holders, helps extend their reach to the viewer, and last but not least, is a very empowering solution for consumers.

--Blake
post #24 of 716
Very exciting news about the pending release. Is there a monthly charge of only a one time purchase fee.

Good luck with the release and be prepared for an onslought of media coverage and publicity. Hopefully your manufacturing suppliers can ramp up quickly and your PR department can keep up with the interview requests. So much for your 4th of July weekend. ;-)

Can't wait to see the specifications of the device and to pick one up.

Drew
post #25 of 716
Thanks for the kind words Drew. We really hope you guys enjoy it.

NO monthly charge of any sort. 249 bones and its all yours!

Cheers,
Blake
post #26 of 716
Blake:

Glad I stumbled onto this. I was THIS close to buying a Sony Location Free TV. Now I'll check out this option.

Two questions:

1) Will this support HDTV signals?

2) Would a user be able to record the input onto the computer's hard drive? (a la TiVo) And what format would the video be in? I want to be able to edit and archive video output onto DVD via the computer, and don't have a Media Center PC. Right now I just record the TiVo signal to a DVD-R, but the editing functions are lousy, and I'm hoping to eventually archive video onto a SAN and do away with DVD-Rs all together.

Thanks,
Mark
post #27 of 716
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_nyc
Blake:

Glad I stumbled onto this. I was THIS close to buying a Sony Location Free TV. Now I'll check out this option.

Two questions:

1) Will this support HDTV signals?

2) Would a user be able to record the input onto the computer's hard drive? (a la TiVo) And what format would the video be in? I want to be able to edit and archive video output onto DVD via the computer, and don't have a Media Center PC. Right now I just record the TiVo signal to a DVD-R, but the editing functions are lousy, and I'm hoping to eventually archive video onto a SAN and do away with DVD-Rs all together.

Thanks,
Mark
The Slingbox offers composite, S-Video and a coax input. So, no, HD signals are not supported. Downconverted HD content to SD over any of the above will work, however. The issue really boils down to bandwidth. HD streaming would almost certainly require a lot more bandwidth (for vieweing on the receiving end in HD quality) than currently available average upstream broadband speeds.

I don't believe that the current software supports recording of the incoming stream. You could use a variety of screen capture solutions to do that, although it's not nearly as clean and would almost certainly waste storage unnecessarily (as you would be recording the resulting video window and not just capturing the stream by itself) and potentially compromise quality. Perhaps the Sling folks have this in mind for a future update....?
post #28 of 716
Would this device work in a LAN environment (i.e., not over the internet) and thus yield pretty high quality streams within the home?

Drew
post #29 of 716
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by drew138
Would this device work in a LAN environment (i.e., not over the internet) and thus yield pretty high quality streams within the home?

Drew
Drew,

Yes it will work over your home LAN. And as you were saying, given the bandwidth available there (even over local WiFi), you should see some very good quality streams. I will personally be using this regularly with the Slingbox for remote viewing of my DirecTivo and security cam sources on my WiFi laptop and later a WiFi PocketPC when that software is available.

Jeff
post #30 of 716
Thread Starter 
By the way, I was at my local CompUSA today. They confirmed that they did have them in store but couldn't sell them until the 30th. I guess I know what I will be doing thursday morning. ;)
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