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Summary:

If you own a Slingbox, you’re going to love Sling.com. Sling Media’s site — now in private beta, but launching to the public on Nov. 24 — offers a new, web-based way to watch the content from your Slingbox-connected TV. But Sling.com does more than that: […]

If you own a Slingbox, you’re going to love Sling.com. Sling Media’s site — now in private beta, but launching to the public on Nov. 24 — offers a new, web-based way to watch the content from your Slingbox-connected TV. But Sling.com does more than that: It also serves as a repository for a wide variety of Internet videos — short clips, full-length films and TV shows. If you don’t own one of Sling Media’s place-shifting devices, you may not be as enamored with Sling.com — not yet, anyway.

slingcom-screenA Slingbox connects to your TV and your home network, and lets you watch and control your TV on any Internet-connected computer. Previously, you needed the SlingPlayer app installed on any PC that you wanted to use to watch the TV, but not anymore. Sling.com offers many of the same features through its Live TV feature, and it does so without requiring the installation of any software beyond a small plug-in.

When you click the Live TV option on Sling.com, you can connect to your Slingbox and view your TV almost as if you were sitting in front of it. I tested it out by accessing four of Sling Media’s demo Slingboxes — all of which were on the opposite side of the country. Video quality was mixed: It occasionally stuttered and looked blurry, but overall it was very watchable. Last time I tested a Slingbox, I found that the video quality improved dramatically when I connected to a Slingbox on the same network, rather than a remote one. I can’t say if the same would be true when using Sling.com instead of SlingPlayer.

Sling is not eliminating the SlingPlayer app: You’ll still need it to setup your Slingbox and to view high-definition content (if you have the Slingbox PRO), as Sling.com can not playback HD content. What it can do, though, is offer some pretty cool tie-ins with web-based video content. If you’re watching a show on live TV that Sling Media has in its repository of content, you’ll see links to that content in the window below your video.

And Sling.com has a good amount of web-based content. The company says it has more than 90 providers, including Hulu, CBS, Sony Pictures and Joost. The site is very easy to browse: You can read through lists of titles organized by popularity or alphabetically. Once you click on a show, you can sort your view of the available content by clips or full episodes. You also have the ability to subscribe to a show, so you’ll be notified when new episodes are available.

You’ll find a variety of current TV shows — everything from 60 Minutes to 90210 — but not always in full episodes. That limitation is not Sling’s fault, though: They can only provide you with what the content owners make available. And, sadly, that’s still not all of the shows that you want to watch. Notably missing from Sling.com’s list of content partners is ABC. Sling says they are currently working on a deal with ABC and is confident that it will have that content in place soon.

Sling.com does have some nice features for non-Slingbox owners. I like having access to a wide variety of TV shows and movies in one location, and I appreciate being able to watch all of the shows without having to leave the Sling.com browser window. An application like ZViewer, for example, collects all of the Internet video content in one place, but then requires that you access that content from multiple sources.

Sling does make some compromises by taking this streamlined approach. For example, full episodes of 90210 are available on the CW’s web site; if you search for 90210 at Hulu.com, that site links you to the CW site so you can access these episodes. If you search for 90210 at Sling.com, all you can see are clips. Sling says the company is not opposed to sending users to external sites for content but has chosen not to do so yet.

Sling.com clearly holds the most appeal for Slingbox users. Other than its inability to play back HD content, there’s no reason for Slingbox owners not to use Sling.com. If you don’t own a Slingbox, Sling.com is still worth a visit. It won’t become your only stop for Internet video content, but it has the potential to become must-see Internet TV.

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  1. Slingbox is good while the traditional broadcast industry is in transition, but when web TV takes hold the slingbox will find itself slung; as proffesional UGC will be the one to watch, from your computer monitor as a TV. (why have 2 TVs)

    The slingbox is static to their broadcast deals.

    Google:-

    Sony Vaio VGC-RT1SU

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    1. If you think traditional media deliver systems are going anywhere in the next, oh let’s say, 20 years, then you are crazy.

      Sure, web based TV is going to grow, but until you can more effectively get that content (A) to your actual HD teevee (B) in HD (C) completely on demand (D) without straining your internet connection (E) for a reasonable price (F) with the Content Providers Approval and finally (G) with a revenue model for the content providers, it ain’t taking over!

      Until then, enjoy the precursors to true 100% on-demand entertainment, such as sling.com, netflix, and the other on-demand services on traditional satellite and cable providers.

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  2. [...] is a fresh arrival from Sling Media, in private beta now and launching on Nov. 24. The service shall widen features offered by the Slingbox-connected [...]

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  3. I recently starting using http://parkmytv.com which hosts my slingbox for me and I’m now getting MUCh better video quality since I’m not limited to my home DSL upload speeds and I pleasantly no longer annoy those at home watching TV while I’m switching channels on them while away :) I think they are in trials now but I was able to get an account early on…

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  4. [...] Vid-Biz: Sling.com, Hulu, Apple Sling Launches Video Portal; hardware maker’s Sling.com features content from Warner Bros., Sony, MGM, CBS and more. (See our previous coverage.) [...]

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  5. [...] SlingCatcher. No, wait, a Slingbox Pro HD. Or maybe both: I’ve spent the last several days testing out the new SlingCatcher set-top box (stay tuned for my review), and I’m really enjoying it. It allows you to play back the video you have stored on your PC on your TV…just like many other devices have promised to do. But the SlingCatcher actually works and setting it up is a snap. (If you end up buying it for someone as a gift, you should consider adding SlingLink TURBO ethernet bridges, which allow you to connect the SlingCatcher to your home network via your power lines.) But the SlingCatcher pairs up nicely with a Slingbox, which lets you view the contents of your TV on a PC. Which one would I want most? It’s a toss-up, but this is a gift guide, so I’ll choose both. And if you buy one of Sling Media’s devices as a gift, you should point the recipient to Sling.com. The site offers a web-based way to watch the content from a Slingbox — come to think of it, even if you don’t purchase a Slingbox or a SlingCatcher, Sling.com is still worth checking out. [...]

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  6. [...] would be super neat is if the iPhone let you access videos on the new Sling.com — effectively creating an iPhone app for Hulu, CBS and other online video providers — [...]

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  7. [...] Sling.com: Almost Must-See TV [...]

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  8. [...] purposes. I’ve used both of these Slingboxes before to test the remote access capabilities of Sling.com and the SlingCatcher device — and I have to say that the video quality over the BlackBerry [...]

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