Thursday, March 23, 2006

Slingbox Goes Mobile

The cool news for today is that Sling Media has "announced the availability of a beta version of SlingPlayer Mobile, a software product that allows users of the company’s flagship product, Slingbox, to view shows on their home TV from a mobile device."

The Slingbox is a hardware box that "allows users to view programs on their home TV from an Internet-connected PC anywhere in the world." Now Slingbox owners can partake in mobile video goodness and bypass the network operators as long as they have devices running Windows Mobile Pocket PC 5.0 and 2003 Second Edition that are Wi-Fi enabled and/or subscribe to a high-speed wireless data plan.

In the RED HERRING, Roger Entner at Ovum pointed out that the technology "will test the limits of the cellular network." He said, "If you love TV, this is a must have. Now you can fight with your spouse over the remote control from different countries, but this could be a nightmare for network service providers.”

Entner noted "TV streaming can be very demanding on cellular networks," and suggested "users would probably be better off choosing a Wi-Fi connection rather than a much more bandwidth-sensitive cellular connection."

He added, “The first time 100 people at a football game pull out their PDAs to watch a rival game, you will see the small print on your unlimited service cellular agreement get bigger. But it could be a revenue opportunity for stadium owners to offer Wi-Fi for a few dollars.”

Entner commented, "The whole business of watching TV from remote locations is extremely cool. There will be bandwidth issues initially, but people are getting used to the idea of being able to watch full-blown TV away from home.”

Michael Gartenberg posts at the Jupiter Analyst Weblogs that he has "been using the Slingbox Mobile client since it's been in early beta." He writes:

I've used it stuck in traffic in taxis, sitting in airports and other places where using a laptop just isn't practical. It's now available in a public beta at their website. If you're a Slingbox owner and you have a Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Pocket PC phone, check it out. It's a clean, elegant way to get your TV content on your mobile device and opens up some new scenarios for watching on the go. Best part, is it's free if you bought and registered your Slingbox before April 26th. Nice way to reward the early adopters. Look for a Windows Smartphone version to follow shortly.
From talks with the folks at Sling, Gartenberg finds current mobile usage is around "what’s commonly referred to as “video snacking” – watching a short video in a short period of time. This is great for when you are waiting in line somewhere, or have just a few minutes to kill, and I see consumers either watching produced, short-form content, or specific types of live TV, such as sports highlights or scores, as well as news updates."

He opines that "overall, this notion of placeshifting is highly disruptive technology, even more so on the phone than on the laptop."

Lastly in the San Francisco Chronicle, Roger Entner at Ovum thought "the mobile application for the Slingbox will deliver a shot in the arm for Sling Media as it fends off competitors." He said, "I think it opens up another customer segment, especially with more and more business users using PDA phones. For people who love television, it's a must have. This is really an 'ooh' and 'aah' application."

This is really cool stuff and the Slingbox is inching its way up my droolworthy gadget list. The best thing about getting a Slingbox, other than being able to watch my DirecTV and Tivo from the road, is all the other gadgets I can get to make things just right.

First I'll need to get a second DirecTivo receiver box or DirecTV's new DVR equivalent for my bedroom so I can use it solely for the Slingbox. This way I won't interrupt the family's viewing habits in the living room.

Second, I'll need to get a new handset. As I test Sprint's Power Vision EV-DO network, I'm having the same epiphany I had when I went from dialup to DSL. Highspeed rocks. It's hard using my GPRS handset now to find things on the network. So I'll need a 3G-enabled Windows Mobile handset that has Wi-Fi as well, such as the Sprint PPC-6700 (HTC Apache via UTStarcom).

So to get a Slingbox and take advantage of the mobile aspects, I can upgrade in other areas and buy two other gadgets as well. Isn't technology great....