January 4, 2006
Slingbox Set to Go Mobile with Home TV
LOS ANGELES -- Sling Media is expected to announce Thursday that consumers can use a wide range of mobile devices to watch their home television from anywhere in the world.
The company is set to unveil new software that adds this capability to its Slingbox hardware product this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.Sling Media co-founder and head of business development Jason Krikorian said support for mobile devices always has been part of the company's vision but that the initial focus was on the PC because of the broadband connection.
"There are solutions for live and recorded TV on mobile phones, but now for the first time you can have full access to every single channel you've got at your house," he said. "It's not just a TV experience on your phone, it's your TV experience, like you have at home when you're on your couch."
The new mobile client, as the software is known, works with any device that uses Microsoft's Windows Mobile Platform versions 4.0 or 5.0. A visual version of a remote control pops up on the screen, making it a fairly straightforward process to choose whether to watch television live from their home cable set-top box or satellite receiver or something recorded on their digital video recorder.
"You can watch your home TiVo from the back seat of a car driving on the 101," Krikorian said.
"You can watch 'Lost' the day after it airs without paying two bucks," added Sling Media PR director Brian Jaquet, in a reference to the television programs sold on Apple's iTunes for viewing on an iPod.
Sling Media does not collect any fees beyond the initial $250 purchase price of the Slingbox hardware. The only additional cost for the service is for the mobile data service at what ever rate the user's carrier levies.
Krikorian said the new software also improves picture quality, besides including more customization options and other enhancements for accessing home entertainment from a remote computer.
"We're constantly striving for better performance and since we have embedded software, we have the ability to constantly tweak the codecs," he said. "Bandwidth is going up, in terms of what people are offering, and our quality is getting better, so those things work in tandem."
Sling Media also is going to release a PAL version of its Slingbox for the European market at CES, as predicted when the company signed a deal for decoders from a new family introduced by Royal Philips Electronics.
To protect the content, every Slingbox has a unique identifier and password, and each one can connect only to one device at a time. The company's Slingstream technology adjusts various parameters to avoid the freeze-frames and buffering familiar to anyone who has viewed video streamed via the Internet.