Sling Media served up a couple of announcements today, notably a new entry-level product that knocks $30 off the price of its predecessor, the Slingbox 350.
The Slingbox M1 will set you back $149.99 and features an updated industrial design with all the composite and component inputs and outputs you need. The M1 also offers integrated Wi-Fi for a completely wireless set up, so you no longer need to hardwire it via an Ethernet cable.
At just under $150, this is the cheapest Slingbox to date.
As with all Sling devices, the Slingbox M1 lets you watch and control live TV on a tablet, smartphone or computer using the companion SlingPlayer app. Additionally, you can play and schedule DVR recordings, as well as watch cable programs on a secondary TV if it's connected to an Apple TV or Roku device - a handy feature for those who only have cable in one room of the house.
There's also an improved Slingplayer for Desktop app that gets users up and running in about 10 minutes, and Sling has added the ability to configure a new M1 with the Android and iOS mobile apps as well.
Summer sling fling
The company also announced a significant software update for its Slingbox 500, which has been rebranded as SlingTV.
SlingTV retains the $299 pricetag; current owners of the 500 will be able to update to the new software for free. The big news here is the significantly refreshed interface, which is designed with content discovery in mind.
The main menu offers a nicely-designed gallery view that's more akin to what you get with a Roku, and it's a massive improvement over the navigation offered by your typical digital cable provider.
With the new interface, you can navigate by content type (Sports, Movies, Shows, Family) and easily find content at-a-glance, thanks to the addition of cover art. Plus, you now get recommendations powered by the company's analytics platform SlingCloud, which analyzes popularity, reviews and social activity on programs. And movies now incorporate Rotten Tomato ratings, so no more need to cross-reference online.
True to form, SlingTV provides some great features for watching sports. Sling partnered with Thuuz in order to integrate excitement ratings for games. The Sports section of the menu also displays real-time scores and rankings for all other games, which is useful for those involved in fantasy leagues since you can check on your team without changing the channel.
Additionally, using the SlingPlayer app on the iPad, you can play content from a remote SlingTV on any TV with an Apple TV or Roku device - a nice value add for people with vacation homes who don't want to pay a cable subscription there (you do still need Wi-Fi though).
SlingTV also integrates an OTT app platform, with the goal of providing the richest content experience, such as the ability to suggest YouTube videos based on your viewing habits. Currently, there aren't many compelling connected apps, but Sling will be working on partnerships in the coming months.
The Slingbox M1 ail be available starting July 20 through retail stores (like Best Buy), Sling.com and online partners (such as Amazon and TigerDirect). SlingTV lands in late August. Slingbox 500 owners will be able to upgrade to SlingTV for free.
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