New Slingbox adds free mobile apps

September 07 01:04 2015

Before Netflix and Hulu came along, Slingbox helped cement the concept of cord-cutting by letting you watch and control the TV programming that you had already paid for at home while you are on the go, too. Sling Media’s latest model, the Slingbox M2 ($199, slingbox.com), aims to make it easier for those who haven’t cut the pay-TV cord to maximize the use of their programming services. With a SlingPlayer app, Slingbox users can connect to their home TV set-top box and watch live or recorded programs on computers, as well as Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.

Those apps, which previously cost $15 apiece, are now free. To help “defray the costs of free apps,” consumers will see occasional advertisements, said Mark Vena, Sling Media’s vice president of worldwide marketing. If customers don’t want to see the ad, they can go into app settings and pay for a $15 upgrade. Current customers can continue using the apps they already paid for. “We’re trying to do this in a very unobtrusive, elegant experience,” Vena said. This newer Slingbox, which hit stores in July, looks a lot like the previous M1 model but it’s a bit pricier. The M1 was launched at, and still goes for, $149.99.

Newcomers can also tap into a new tech-support service that uses Skype to help customers get their Slingbox up and running. I didn’t need any help connecting the Slingbox to my DirecTV receiver and home Wi-Fi network — like the M1, the M2 has built-in Wi-Fi as well as an Ethernet port. I simply connected them using the included component video and stereo audio cables. I also connected an infrared emitter cable so that the Slingbox could change the receiver’s channel. Note: The Slingbox works with all manners of cable and satellite boxes and streams content from Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku, too. And even though you may have multiple apps, only one device can be accessing content at a time.

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