Over the weekend I caught up on email finally and was happy to hear that Sling Media is finally close to shipping the SlingCatcher product. I've been a SlingBox fan since its debut and in fact was one of the first members of the trade press to publish a detailed evaluation of the product back in 2005. Just yesterday I sat through the entire Charger/Raider NFL game watching the action on my notebook via my SlingBox back in San Diego. The SlingBox experience pales next to even a good analog TV quality wise. But I am traveling and the local TV stations weren't carrying the Chargers. SlingBox was my only option.—and a greatly appreciated one. SlingCatcher will soon complete the flexibility play by allowing consumers to watch any video accessible on the Internet or your home computer network on you living-room TV.
What prompted this post? First a link in the Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter pointed to a story on the release of SlingCatcher. The article noted than SlingCatcher is late -- certainly in part due to the acquisition of the entrepreneurial Sling Media by EchoStar. I suspect it will deliver the goods as the SlingBox did at release.
My family has tried any number of ways to get Internet video in the living room. In San Diego we have a broadcaster called KBCsports that airs Internet broadcasts of some high school sports. On occasion I want to watch the local team when I can't make the game in person. Moreover, when my wife misses an episode of a network TV program, she occasionally wants to catch up via the Internet version that's available for many shows. Today we connect a notebook PC to the TV via a VGA-to-composite-video box that I bought at FRY's. I know there are a handful of other products now that could offer the same capability, but I've been waiting for SlingCatcher.
The Sling Media web site is taking preorders for the product. The product page implies that the first units are manufactured an in transit for delivery.
Now I come to the second reason for this post. We need more companies like Sling Media. And I say that even though the company was acquired. But the founders came up with a compelling concept. They found a way to build the product with off-the-shelf ICs including originally a TI DSP. They were able to price the product at a level that consumers could afford it -- without having to pay a subscription fee. They have stood behind the product an even supplied replacement power converters for out-of-warranty units when the power converters proved to be a weak link in the design. Frankly SlingBox is the last great consumer product that I've seen from a technology startup. I expect the same from SlingCatcher.