Sling TV review

Sling TV is live cable TV without the headache

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Sling TV is a great solution for users of a certain lifestyle, like restaurant owners who only use ESPN and CNN, or cord-cutters who know exactly the channels that they like. Additional packages like HBO, Cinemax and NFL Network offer additional channel options that have made the service even more compelling.

If you don't fall into those groups and don't find any of the additional packages all that appealing, you're not out of luck. The service is always evolving, and with more content added monthly. If you don't see your favorite channel right now, don't completely write Sling off forever. Your favorite set of channels may be just a few months out.

Curmudgeons, however, could easily quote Shakespeare's famous line in Romeo and Juliet: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," and feel somewhat justified here. Sling TV isn't that far away from cable – it's not a 100% free service and you're not allowed to build a tailor-fitted package. At some point you have to get what you're given and pay the monthly fee. Sling TV isn't free from customer service issues (just read the comments section below), and because it's dependent on your connection and the devices you choose to stream it on, performance can vary from person-to-person.

But there's still a lot of good here: What Sling TV offers that's different from cable is the ability to go anywhere. You can watch your subscription anywhere in the country from any number of your favorite devices. Better, Sling Blue means that you could theoretically split the cost between a friend or two just like Netflix. Finally, if nothing else, you're getting out of the atrociously high equipment rental fee that most cable companies slip onto your bill every month.

We liked

At its core, there's a lot right with Sling TV. It presents the clearest alternative to cable we've ever seen. Plus, when combined with a movie streaming service like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon and an HD antenna, provides a nearly complete solution.

There's no setup, no fees, and no contract. It's simple, just the way we like it.

Sling TV is also awesomely and incredibly convenient. Whether you're trying to quickly catch up on a show on the go with the iOS app or bunkering down for a marathon on your PC, accessing the service isn't a problem.

We disliked

But no matter how much I liked the service and its convenience, there are still some glaring issues Sling TV needs to fix to score my full recommendation.

DISH still hasn't found the right balance between cost, content offered and features, like letting an additional viewer watch simultaneously or enabling every channel to offer pause, rewind and restart options. 

Seriously, the lack of pause and rewind on every station, or a way to record live TV to watch later, is a bummer. (Video On Demand helps alleviate the issue some, but not all shows are available despite being part of the package you pay for.) And while traditional cable may have cost upwards of $70 per month, there are easily over 100 channels of content available in those services. It can be argued that a typical user only watches seven or eight in a given week but, even so, the options are always there. Sling TV users aren't so lucky.

Verdict

Sling TV is divisive. Yes, DISH is offering a $20 a month, contract-free plan that can be streamed to any mobile device and most set-top boxes. But that $20 could easily turn into $30 by the time you tack on the additional two packages. Add on a few more and you'll quickly find yourself paying the same amount you gave to the cable company before cutting the cord. 

Worse, you might subscribe to the service only to be disappointed by how it performs on your home network and/or chosen streaming device. (Have I mentioned that this is a YMMV situation?) While you might love using the service on a device like your iPhone, Roku or Amazon Fire TV, you might have an absolutely awful time watching it on Chromecast. 

Taking everything in consideration, if you're not the experimental type I don't think I'd recommend dropping cable for Sling TV just yet. If you're not ready to say goodbye to cable, however, take some solace that Sling TV could finally be the straw that breaks corporate cable's back.