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SlingPlayer Mobile for BlackBerry Beta Review

By Gary Mazo on 17 Feb 2009 01:50 am EST
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SlingPlayer Mobile for BlackBerry

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 4.6.0.0 and above; optimal at 4.6.0.167 and above
    • 8820 - minimum 4.5.0.0 and above; optimal at 4.5.0.110 and above
    • 8320 - minimum 4.5.0.0 and above; optimal at 4.5.0.81 and above
    • 8220 - minimum 4.6.0.0; optimal at 4.6.0.174 and above
    • 8120 - minimum 4.5.0.0; optimal at 4.5.0.110 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.

Overview

SlingPlayer

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.

SlingPlayer

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.

SlingPlayer

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.

SlingPlayer

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.

Options

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.

SlingPlayer

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.

SlingPlayer

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.

Overall Conclusions

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.

Pros

  • Very high "Coolness" Factor
  • Virtually Flawless execution
  • Really expands the Media capabilities of the BlackBerry

Cons

  • Pricey
  • 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.

Reader comments

SlingPlayer Mobile for BlackBerry Beta Review

30 Comments

How exactly did you manage to install it on a storm? It won't download to the PC, and OTA attempts are rejected. What am I doing wrong here?

I got my PRO-HD sling box around the time I got the storm in November. It works great otherwise, but it's pretty useless (to me) until it works on my storm...

I think (and I could be wrong) that he didn't/couldn't install it on the Storm. Hence one of the cons being 'Storm anyone?'. He lists useable models in the beginning.

One way that you can install it on the Storm is by installing it on one of the "supported" platforms and then using BB desktop manager to transfer your mobile device.

One way to get the Sling Player to work on the Storm is to plug this address into your browser:

download (dot) slingmedia (dot) com/player/mobile/bbbeta503/US/SlingPlayer_def_EN_US.jad

You can then bypass the Sling site telling you the Storm is not compatible. Remember, it is not designed for the Storm and it may not work great. I disabled compatibility mode and found it was acceptable.

Also, the "ugly" font is just the system font on my 8900 - that doesn't come from Sling.

I have had a Slingbox for a couple of years and love it. I could not wait until Slingbox released a beta for the BBerry. I like many Slingbox users really enjoy being able to take my home's DVR and Satellite viewing capabilities with me wherever I go. Whether at work, or a hotel room in some other city or country, it is always great to tap into my channels and line-up at home.

It works well with my Bold (with a few flaws). I also installed it onto my Storm even though it is not meant to work on the Storm. Now, people who want to install on the Storm, this will not work on your full screen. The software being utilized for the Storm is actually for the flip BBerry. Also, the reception is somewhat choppy on the Storm. Having said that, for all the avid Storm fans who must have their BBerry, here is the link, compliments of the many relentless BBerry and Sling fans out there, (cut and paste into your Storm's broswer):

http://download.slingmedia.com/player/mobile/bbbeta503/US/SlingPlayer_de...

Finally, to the people at Slingbox. Love your product, but guys please.... speed it up a little.

Avid Slingfan.

Can you stream content from sling.com using this? I don't see any mention of that feature, but that would be sweet. I'd pay $30 for that. I don't have a slingbox though :(.

How well does "audio-only" mode work on EDGE, particularly on that Pearl Flip? I'm trying to avoid throwing down for the Bold, and I could live without the video while on the go, for now.

I use audio-only on my Curve 8900 over EDGE frequently to listen to SportsCenter or a game. It works fine. Here are a few tricks I found to make it work easier:

1) when you are using it on wifi, before you exit, switch the player to listen only mode - that saves you from having SlingPlayer load in video mode and perhaps not connect due to poor signal

2) Make sure the channels you frequently watch are set as favorites (you do this through the SlingPlayer 2.0 for your computer). That makes channel changing easier.

3) Set audio to low complexity mono - lowest bandwidth requirement.

4) Be aware that there is a big lag between remote presses on your BB and the TV responding. You should use the program over wifi to familiarize yourself with it so you know what to do over EDGE when you won't have the responsiveness.

Good luck.

If you already have a slingplayer mobile license, even for another platform, you can transfer it over to the BlackBerry version. I had purchased the slingplayer mobile for my Windows Mobile phones. When I switched to the Bold, I was able to apply my registration code to the software.

I have been using it on my bold for a few weeks now and with certain OS there is bad lag between video/audio i'm now using .234 and its fine on that OS.

Helps out during those boring family dinners, jury duty (not during session) and bad first dates lol....

Yes, I know that "amazingness" is not a real word, but it is the only phrase that describes it. I NEVER ever ever ever miss any game or anything that I want to see on TV.

I have absolutely NO complaints at all. It works FLAWLESSLY for me and every time my fiancee drags me to some boring event, I go with a smile and know that as soon as I get there, I will be watching the game.

I went to a booooooooooooooooring meeting the other day and I sat in the back and watched Lebron score 55 on the Knicks....yes Amazingness is the only way to describe it.

Assuming you don't have the HD Pro model, which has this built in, you have to buy an additional gizmo that plugs into your HDMI output from your cable or satellite box and translates that into component input to the Slingbox.

Here's a link to the SlingMedia site for that connector: http://www.slingmedia.com/go/hd-connect. Works like a charm for me.

Hope this helps.

When I was shopping for a carrier and phone two years ago, SlingPlayer functionality was one of the factors I considered. I talked with a rep at a Verizon store about SlingPlayer. He told me that using SlingPlayer on Verizon's network violated the terms and conditions of their service and I would risk having my phone shut down.

I am not sure that it would happen in reality but that was a big factor in me deciding to get a blackberry on T-mobile rather than a Q on Verizon. I am so glad I did! Now I have an 8900 on T-Mobile and the SlingPlayer is great over wifi.

I have been unsuccessful in downloading the link onto my Storm. Bummer

I hope Verizon lightens up and considers how happy their subscribers would be if we could sling media to our Storms or other devices for that matter. They would sell so many more BBs.

Verizon please allow us to make the most of our cherished Storms

I travel quite a bit, especially on the Amtrak line between Baltimore - New York and have had an HD Slingbox for some time which I watch on my computer. I have both Verizon and Cingular mobile broadband cards built into Dell laptops. On my computer the Slingbox works well when I have a good connection but is spotty in lots of places.

I have been anxiously awaiting Slingbox software for my Blackberry Bold, and can tell you it is fabulous. It works far better than it does on my computer, with gorgeous picture and only occasional hiccups. I plug it into a cassette adaptor in my car, and can listen to sports events, news programs etc while driving. I've always wanted TV sound as an option in my car, and now I have it.

You can watch live TV, record or play back programs from a DVR and even watch a DVD if you have a DVD player hooked to the Slingplayer.

My only complaints are a noticeable delay when changing channels, especially from the guide, and the fact that it disconnects when you switch from one app to another. I understand the bandwidth issue for phone calls, but wish that didn't happen when switching to apps which do not necessarily require additional bandwidth, like email, calendar, etc. Even so, reconnecting is a snap, but you miss the audio in the meantime.

Also, and maybe they just never thought anyone would want to do this, you can only get the sound on the speaker or through a stereo headset, bluetooth or connected. You can't switch to the handset and it doesn't come through a mono bluetooth earpiece. Hopefully they can address that.

I also think it does a hatchet job on battery life, but I often just plug it into a car charger or usb port on my computer.

If you want to be able to watch or listen to TV anywhere, any time, this is well worth the $29.95 price tag. And for a beta product, they did a very good job.

I had it working on my Storm for the trial period. It worked quite well but was in compatibility mode and only used half the screen. I would have bought it if it was officially supported on the Storm. Why does Slingmedia need Verizon’s permission to support the Storm? I can’t see Verizon actually shutting down people with Storm’s. If they did that to me, they would lose my business for life and right now I am spending about $160/month with Verizon with the whole family. I suspect a lot of Storm owners are also big Verizon customers.

I think the problem is that it was not developed for the storm. I was a beta tester and I talked to them about it. The coding is alot different for the storm and this was being written for the majority of blackberry owners. Us storm owners are in the minority when it comes to blackberry users. I say just patience and we will get it.

one there maybe as well is that possibly they are going to roll out a TV product for the storm.

The storm is still young, I am sure they have big media plans for it.

The $29.99 is justified. I also was a beta tester, and the work that went into this, the most sophisticated and complicated application for the BlackBerry, took MONTHS to beta test.

It works unbelievably well. Anyone with a SlingBox, and a supported BlackBerry (ideally the Bold) will be blown a-way!

does anyone know how i can use my verizon 8530 curve to access slingbox. slingmedia will not allow a download for verizon??

Check the "slingbox for 8330" thread (or google slingbox on blackberry 8330) and use the download link ending in .jad . After you do, the only odd thing is that you need to start the sling app while the radio is off...it works perfectly.

The url that worked for my 8330 is: xttp://download.slingmedia.com/player/mobile/bb1002/US/SlingPlayer_def_EN_US.jad

Obviously has to add the x cause I can't post urls