I love my Slingbox - I have for years. I have actually have two slingboxes - one is the Sling box Tuner - for basic cable and one is the Sling Box Solo for the HD box.
The concept is one that Sling Media calls "Place-shifting." In a nutshell, (for those not familiar with "Slinging") is that you take your TV lineup - or whatever might be on your DVR - and you watch it wherever you are. The Sling Boxes themselves are varying prices - and the PC or Mac software - allowing you to use a high speed internet connection and essentially "log in" to your own TV - is free.
You can be anywhere in the world watching your own TV or DVR - it is very cool. Our son who lives in Vermont has been watching his TV via our SlingBox for most of his college career - it has saved him a bunch of money!
A couple of years back, Sling Media began to sell Mobile software for the almost defunct Palm OS and Windows Mobile. BlackBerry and iPhone Users clamored for quite some time and it seems like the cries were heard. The SlingPlayer for BlackBerry has been in private Beta for several months and recently moved to a public Beta that is seems very close to being a "finished product."
About SlingPlayer Mobile
The "Official line" from the Sling Website is as follows:
SlingPlayer Mobile lets you watch and control your home TV and DVR on your BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm OS or Symbian smartphones.
The public BETA version of SlingPlayer Mobile for BlackBerry smartphones is now available.
Download to your Desktop - Desktop downloads are not available for SlingPlayer Mobile for BlackBerry smartphones. If you have a supported phone, please follow the instructions for installing the application directly.
Download Direct to your Phone- Using your phone's web browser, visit mobile.slingmedia.com and select the download option for your phone.
Recommended BlackBerry smartphones:
- BlackBerry Bold from AT&T
- BlackBerry 8820 from AT&T*
- BlackBerry Curve 8320 from AT&T*
- BlackBerry Curve 8320 from T-Mobile*
- BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 from T-Mobile*
- BlackBerry Pearl 8120 from AT&T*
* Supported by SlingPlayer Mobile when used with Wi-Fi connection.
And let's hope that SlingMedia is working their butts off to get a BlackBerry Storm version ready!
BlackBerry smartphone requirements:
A supported BlackBerry smartphone with 3G wireless service and/or WiFi Internet connectivity, as well as the following minimum device software versions. (To check your BlackBerry device software version, select Options from your home screen, then select About. Third line shows the device software version installed.)
- Bold - minimum 184.108.40.206 and above; optimal at 220.127.116.11 and above
- 8820 - minimum 18.104.22.168 and above; optimal at 22.214.171.124 and above
- 8320 - minimum 126.96.36.199 and above; optimal at 188.8.131.52 and above
- 8220 - minimum 184.108.40.206; optimal at 220.127.116.11 and above
- 8120 - minimum 18.104.22.168; optimal at 22.214.171.124 and above
- For more information on how to check for and install available BlackBerry device software updates, click here.
- Network download speed of 120 Kbps (or higher)
- 2 MB free memory on device to install
We strongly recommend that when connecting to your Slingbox you use a 3G cellular or WiFi connection that meets our minimum network download speed requirements.
The SlingPlayer for BlackBerry software was an easy OTA download. Once I downloaded the software and agreed to all the license requirements, I was asked to log into my Sling account. You do need to remember that you have to have one of the Slingbox models and then create an online account which will essentially register your slingbox locator ID to your email and password. From then on in, the BlackBerry knows who you are and which slingboxes are yours.
After logging in, I just pressed the MENU key on my 8900 and looked at my SlingBox directory. This shot shows four Slingboxes - but I really have two - the four settings show both the Wi-Fi and the Internet configurations.
Once I choose the SlingBox I wish to watch, connecting is a snap. The menu bar allows me to choose the remote control for my HD box or change the channel, switch to full screen mode, adjust the settings (including audio quality, video resolution, connection method (Wi-Fi preferred, mobile preferred, etc.) and various tweaks.
If you have your SlingBox connected to a DVR - you can record, pause, access recordings - whatever you can do on your TV - you can do on your SlingBox.
Once you start "Slinging" you have the full MENU bar of options: including the remote control, full screen viewing, channel changing control, setting favorite stations, Mute, disconnect and access the options menu.
I was really overwhelmed with all I could do with this software - the features were as easy to access and use as if I were in front of the TV or the remote.
Because "Bandwidth" is key to the execution, it might be necessary to "Tweak" this software a bit more than other software titles.
One nice option to save battery life is that you can have only the audio play if you wanted to just "listen" to the game or some other program.
If you want to see the picture again, just click on "Watch" as in the picture above.
Does it Work?
Yes - yes it does - quite well in fact. The SlingPlayer Mobile Software for BlackBerry really lives up to its billing. I found very little lag (when using the 8900 Curve.) I also installed it on my 8320, Pearl Flip and Storm (which is not supported in the Beta.) it worked on all of them - but was (predictably) very slow on the Storm. The 8320 and the Flip worked fine - although the screen on the Flip was a little small to effectively watch TV.
The beauty of this software for me is that no matter where I am, I can access my TV, watch my shows, my Red Sox, my DVR anywhere in the world.
I remember on early builds of this software for other platforms that there was often a lag between video and audio - I really didn't experience any lag - there were a couple of times that it took a few seconds to change the channel - but that was about it.
The picture of my HD SlingBox Solo on my Curve 8900 was really beautiful and the audio was loud and crisp. It is definitely possible to sit through an episode of Two and a Half Men very comfortably watching on your BlackBerry screen.
What's not to like?
This is a relatively pricey piece of software - I am assuming it will go for the same $29.99 as the other SlingPlayer mobile software for other platforms. If you watch your TV away from home quite often - then that might be a small price to pay for the convenience.
This software really requires Wi-Fi or 3G. I was able to log in over EDGE - but I did experience more skips and audio drop outs than I did via my home Wi-Fi connection.
The program is a bit of a memory hog - I tried to push my BlackBerry and multi-task while "slinging" and my Berry did not appreciate that. That being said, for most of us if we have the time to actually sit and watch TV on our phone - we probably won't be doing 100 other things.
I love this software. It is very cool and quickly has become one of the two or three things I use to show off the capabilities of my BlackBerry. I also find it very useful - I can watch the Celtics in the bathroom - I can change the channel of the TV in the den from my car on my BlackBerry and make my kids think the house is haunted. Seriously, this is one very sophisticated and well thought out piece of software that I would fully recommend to anyone who owns a SlingBox.
- Very high "Coolness" Factor
- Virtually Flawless execution
- Really expands the Media capabilities of the BlackBerry
- A Solid High Speed Connection is required at all times
- Storm anyone?
More information can be found at http://downloads.slingmedia.com/get/spm-blackberry-us.html. I anticipate that the purchase price will be $29.99. The Mobile player is available as an OTA download at mobile.slingmedia.com.