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][7]

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 an 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[8][9] 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.[10][11]

This infrastructure also allows Sling to report on aggregate television watching behavior. They have released several infographics[12][13] and provide a Nielsen-like weekly report of the top shows.[14]

Clients[edit]

Slingplayer for Desktop and the Watch client[edit]

Viewing content from a Slingbox requires a client application on a PC or mobile device. Sling initially offered a desktop application for Windows and the Macintosh, which was deprecated when the Slingbox Watch website was released. Watch is a NPAPI-based browser plug-in for Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple Safari.[15] 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. The Dish Anywhere website is based on this technology.

In July 2014, Sling announced the return of the Slingplayer for Desktop application with the launch of the Slingbox M1 and SlingTV.[16]

Slingplayer for Mobile[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.[17] Previously supported platforms include Blackberry, Palm OS 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.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20] This change was made externally by AT&T as the SlingPlayer App already features quality scaling of content based on connection type.[21]

On November 2010, Sling Media announced the release of a Slingplayer Mobile app for the iPad.[17] The iPad-specific app offers a higher resolution stream than on other devices with smaller screens. In November 2013, an update[22] 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.[23] This version supports both Windows RT and Windows x86 for tablets, laptops and hybrids.

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. ^ Zatz Not Funny, October 10, 2012. The New Slingboxes Have Arrived (Retrieved April 21, 2014)
  7. ^ Twitter (@davezatz), October 11, 2012. I suppose this Vixs chip is the Slingbox 350 money shot. No more TI DSP? (Retrieved April 21, 2014)
  8. ^ Slideshare. AWS Customer Presenatation - SlingMedia uses AWS (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  9. ^ "AWS Case Study: Sling Media". Amazon Web Services. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  10. ^ Price, Emily. Engadget, April 17, 2014. Don't wait for SportsCenter, SlingPlayer update brings the highlights in real-time (Retrieved July 17, 2014)
  11. ^ Slingbox Blog, November 21, 2013. Q&A with Sr. Product Manager Mark Maisenbacher (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  12. ^ Edelsberg, N. Lost Remote, November 5, 2013. Infographic: How are people using Slingbox? (Retrieved April 21, 2014)
  13. ^ Flomenbaum, A. Lost Remote, January 25, 2014. Infographic: Slingbox users are watching live sports on the go (Retrieved April 21, 2014)
  14. ^ Sling Blog, January 27, 2014. Update: Sling Top 10 TV Programs (Retrieved April 15, 2014)
  15. ^ Sling Support. What browsers and systems are supported by Watch on Slingbox.com? (Retrieved July 20, 2014)
  16. ^ Warren, Christina. Mashable, July 15, 2014. Sling Introduces Cheaper, WiFi-Enabled Slingbox M1 (Retrieved July 17, 2014)
  17. ^ a b Sling Website - Slingplayer Apps (Retrieved July 17, 2014)
  18. ^ C|NET, December 21, 2012. Slingbox 500 review: Worth it for the Wi-Fi (Retrieved April 17, 2014)
  19. ^ Macrumors, May 5, 2009. Sling Media's SlingPlayer Now Available in App Store (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  20. ^ Appleinsider, February 2, 2010. AT&T, Sling Media partner to allow 3G access on iPhone SlingPlayer (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  21. ^ Appleinsider, February 5, 2010. Sling Media says it didn't change iPhone SlingPlayer to appease AT&T (Retrieved April 14, 2014)
  22. ^ Snell, Jason. TechHive, November 18, 2013. Slingbox gets AirPlay, Roku support and second-screen features
  23. ^ Engadget, December 13, 2013. SlingPlayer app arrives for Windows 8, costs $15 after free trial runs out (Retrieved April 14, 2014)

External links[edit]