Slingbox

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The Slingbox is a TV streaming media device made by Sling Media that encodes local video for transmission over the Internet to a remote device (sometimes called placeshifting). It allows users to remotely view and control their cable, satellite, or personal video recorder (PVR) system at home from a remote Internet-connected PC, smartphone or tablet as if he or she were at home.

Customers have also connected their Slingboxes to other video sources, including Blu-Ray players and security cameras.[1]

Technology[edit]

Hardware[edit]

The traditional Slingbox embeds a video encoding chip to do real-time encoding of a video and audio stream into the SMPTE 421M / VC-1 format[2] that can be transmitted over the Internet via the ASF streaming format. Later Slingboxes also support Apple's HTTP Live Streaming,[3] which requires support for H.264.

The Slingboxes up until the Fourth Generation (or Next Generation Slingbox) used a Texas Instruments chipset.[4] Current generation Slingboxes and OEM products are built around a ViXS chipset.[5][6]

Control of the hosting video device, usually a set top box, is done through an IR blaster, which, on older Slingboxes, required the use of a IR blaster dongle. Current generation Slingboxes have built in IR blasters on the box itself, though customers can opt to continue to use the IR blaster dongle.

All Slingboxes include an Ethernet port that connects to a local network and out to the Internet. The Slingbox 500 is the first to include built-in Wi-Fi.

Cloud Infrastructure[edit]

Sling uses a Amazon Web Services-based infrastructure[7] to support encoding, relaying streams and analytics. It also sources data from multiple repositories to help guide recommendations to users, including social networks (Facebook and Twitter) and specialty services like Thuuz for sports.[8][9]

This infrastructure also allows Sling to report on aggregate television watching behavior. They have released several infographics[10][11] and provide a Nielsen-like weekly report of the top shows.[12]

Clients[edit]

Watch Client[edit]

Viewing content from a Slingbox requires a client application on the remote PC, smartphone or tablet. Included with the purchase of Slingbox is access to the Slingbox Watch website, which is a NPAPI-based browser plug-in for Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple Safari.[13] This website experience includes the ability to view and control your set top box, an integrated electronic program guide (US/Canada only) and the ability to manage your connected Slingboxes. A registered Sling account is required to access the Watch website.

SlingPlayer[edit]

In addition to the Watch Slingbox website, customers can purchase a SlingPlayer app for their mobile device. Supported platforms include iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android (phones and tablets), Kindle Fire and Microsoft Windows 8.1 tablets.[14] Previously supported platforms include Blackberry, PalmOS and Symbian. The launch price for SlingPlayer apps was $29.99. The price was reduced to $14.99 when the Slingbox 350 and 500 were launched in October 2012.[15]

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone was demonstrated at Macworld Expo 2009 in January and became available in May of the same year. On May 12, 2009, the SlingPlayer App became available at the Apple App Store, but only for US, Canadian and UK accounts, and was originally restricted to Wi-Fi for streaming content.[16] Sling's promotional email confirmed that the SlingPlayer for iPhone works with Wi-Fi connections only "at Apple's request" – a decision believed to have been made at the behest of incumbent iPhone network operators such as AT&T and O2. AT&T later relented to allow the app to stream over its cellular network. [17] This change was made externally by AT&T as the SlingPlayer App already features quality scaling of content based on connection type.[18]

On November 2010, Sling Media announced the release of a SlingPlayer Mobile app for the iPad.[14] The iPad-specific app offers a higher resolution stream than on other devices with smaller screens. In November 2013, an update[19] added second screen capabilities.

Historically, Microsoft Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 platforms were supported. Sling released a native version for the Windows 8 platform in December 2013.[20] This version supports both Windows RT and Windows x86 for tablets, laptops and hybrids.

See also[edit]

  • LocationFree Player, a competing product line from Sony
  • HDHomeRun, a network digital TV tuner
  • Vulkano, a competing product line from Monsoon Multimedia
  • Dreambox, a competing product line from Dream Multimedia
  • DBox2, a competing product
  • NationPhone Remote, Slingbox remote as alternative Catcher
  • TV2Me, an original placeshifting device, invented by Ken Schaffer
  • @TV, a competing product line from Belkin

References[edit]

  1. ^ CocoonTech - Anyone using Slingbox as part of home security? (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  2. ^ Singapore Hardware Zone, October 10, 2012. Sling Media Unwraps the Slingbox 350 and 500 (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  3. ^ Blogcritics, November 10, 2010. iPad App Review: SlingPlayer (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  4. ^ New York Times, July 9, 2006. Cashing In Its Chips (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  5. ^ Softswitch, November 12, 2012. ViXS' XCode Network Media Processing Solutions Power Slingbox Products (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  6. ^ Sling Media Website, November 6, 2012. PRESS RELEASE - ViXS™ XCode® Network Media Processing Solutions Selected to Power Newly Redesigned Slingbox® Products (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  7. ^ Slideshare. AWS Customer Presenatation - SlingMedia uses AWS (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  8. ^ Sling Media Website - SlingPlayer 3.0 for iPad Named as 2014 CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award Honoree (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  9. ^ Slingbox Blog, November 21, 2013. Q&A with Sr. Product Manager Mark Maisenbacher (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  10. ^ Sling Blog, October 31, 2013. How do people Sling? (Retrieved April 15, 2014)
  11. ^ Sling Blog, January 7, 2014. Data Sets and Infographics Will Track How People Sling (Retrieved April 15, 2014)
  12. ^ Sling Blog, January 27, 2014. Update: Sling Top 10 TV Programs (Retrieved April 15, 2014)
  13. ^ Sling Media Website. What browsers and systems are supported by Watch on Slingbox.com? (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  14. ^ a b Sling Media Website - SlingPlayer (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  15. ^ C|NET, December 21, 2012. Slingbox 500 review: Worth it for the Wi-Fi (Retrieved April 17, 2014)
  16. ^ Macrumors, May 5, 2009. Sling Media's SlingPlayer Now Available in App Store (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  17. ^ Appleinsider, February 2, 2010. AT&T, Sling Media partner to allow 3G access on iPhone SlingPlayer (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  18. ^ Appleinsider, February 5, 2010. Sling Media says it didn't change iPhone SlingPlayer to appease AT&T (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  19. ^ Sling Media Website - SlingPlayer for iPad (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  20. ^ Engadget, December 13, 2013. SlingPlayer app arrives for Windows 8, costs $15 after free trial runs out (Retrieved April 14, 2014)

External links[edit]