Blog Post

First Look: SlingPlayer Mobile

When UCLA-Gonzaga went down to the wire Thursday night, the other viewer in my house had already called it a night and was in a room without the game on. He didn’t miss the stunning turn of events, though — with just more than a minute left I dropped off my Cingular 8125 Pocket PC now powered by the SlingPlayer Mobile beta. It wasn’t close to perfect; the bars on the phone kept fluctuating from four to two, taking the video quality on a seesaw while the audio remained pretty good. But between the stutters, he caught a glimpse of how cool mobile location-shifting can be when the stars are aligned. With a more consistant signal, I rewound the TiVo (NSDQ: TIVO) and watched the last minute over again using the 8125. It was mostly clear with intermittent pixalation. I expect it would be smoother on a faster phone connection (mine seems to peak aroun 164 kbps); also, I haven’t tried WiFi yet. It switches pretty easily between vertical and horizontal on the 2.8″ QVGA 320×240 64K color screen.

Set-up could have been easier with a little more explanation on the front end of how to make sure you have the updated software and firmware. But I didn’t know I had a firmware problem until I fixed my ability to connect through Cingular. Thanks to an active Slingbox community forum, I found out how to uncheck the proxy setting. That’s when I got an “incompatible Slingbox” error. Sling Media isn’t offering formal tech support for mobile yet, according to the CSR I wound up with on the firmware issue; luckily, I was able to convince him that was a Slingbox problem. Once installed, the program loads smoothly and picks up the signal within a minute or so.

I wouldn’t suggest buying a Slingbox so you can watch TV on a Pocket PC or other mobile device. But if you want to make the most of one and you have or want a Windows-enabled device, SlingPlayer Mobile is worth the tweak time. Now all I have to do is figure out how long a battery lasts while the player is running.