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Innovation

CES 2010: Sling Media unleashes load of new hardware, but Dish Network is only taker so far

Trying to avoid the same fate as TiVo, which has mostly lost out to cable and satellite providers' own DVR offerings, Sling Media has unloaded a whole mess of new hardware that takes advantage of its place-shifting Sling technology in the hopes that those same providers will join forces with the company instead of trying to come up with their own solutions to showing content from a set-top box remotely (whether in another room or across the globe).
Written by Sean Portnoy, Contributor on

Trying to avoid the same fate as TiVo, which has mostly lost out to cable and satellite providers' own DVR offerings, Sling Media has unloaded a whole mess of new hardware that takes advantage of its place-shifting Sling technology in the hopes that those same providers will join forces with the company instead of trying to come up with their own solutions to showing content from a set-top box remotely (whether in another room or across the globe). So far, only Dish Network has announced plans to put the following Sling hardware into use this year.

The Slingbox 700U is a waffle-looking piece of hardware that can connect to an Internet-enable set-top box via USB. It's designed so that TV providers don't need to develop and produce new boxes with place-shifting technology; the 700U does the video transcoding (and encrypting) so the programming can be sent over the Internet to other Sling receiving devices. That includes the Sling Receiver 300, which can connect to a TV elsewhere in your home via HDMI and can broadcast the remote signal without you needing an additional set-top box/DVR.

If the subscriber doesn't have a second screen to display that content from your Sling-enabled primary set-top box, Sling Media has a solution for that, too. The Sling Monitor 150 is a 15.6-inch 720p LCD that comes with built-in dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi. Sling claims that the display is "the only free-standing monitor that can accept a full HD broadcast stream over a WiFi network." It also comes with stereo speakers and a foldable stand in case you want to wall-mount the monitor.

Rounding out the hardware is the Sling Touch Control 100 remote, which not only can control devices using the company's SlingGuide but also other A/V equipment. It sports a 4.3-inch touch screen, has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and communicates with SlingGuide devices over IP using your home network and controls other hardware via IR.

As good as these products look, it's no slam dunk that TV programming providers will be making deals with Sling Media. Verizon's FiOS and AT&T U-verse, for instance, have multi-room DVRs already, and cable companies like Comcast are working to put more of their programming on the Internet for subscribers, which could limit the need for a Slingbox for many people. Will Sling Media wind up mostly on the sidelines like TiVo? Give us your predictions in the TalkBack section.

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