The Slingbox redirects, or "placeshifts," the TV signal from any cable box, satellite receiver, or personal video recorder (PVR) to a viewer's location and device of choice, whether in another room in the home or anywhere in the world with a high-speed Internet connection. The Slingbox will retail for US$249 with no additional monthly service fees. The product is due to ship in the first half of 2005. The device is being shown during the Consumer Electronics Show 2005 (CES).
At launch, the Slingbox is capable of placeshifting a single, live TV stream to the owner's laptop or desktop PC of choice. The company also plans to provide downloadable software for PDAs and smart cellphones, as faster wireless networks become available to support a high-quality, TV-like viewing experience.
"The idea of placeshifting TV is the next logical evolution after timeshifting -- the last notable advancement in TV, popularized first by VCRs, and now by TiVo and other PVRs," said IDC analyst Randy Giusto. "Placeshifting, however, has the potential to create even more value for the TV industry by increasing viewers and boosting advertising reach."
Blake Krikorian, a veteran technologist, first envisioned the Slingbox while frustrated by being unable to view his subscription TV programming and services when away from home. "Like many business and mobile professionals, as well as sports fans, I love TV, but spend a good chunk of my time in locations other than my living room. I looked into subscribing to additional Internet-based video services, but nothing met my needs since they only provide a subset of the TV experience I already received at home. Also, the idea of paying multiple times for the same programming didn't make sense," Krikorian said. This inspired the creation of Slingbox.
The Slingbox is powered by a high-performance digital signal processor from Texas Instruments. The live TV streaming system utilises Microsoft's Windows Media technologies. In addition, Sling Media implemented its proprietary stream optimization technology, code-named "Lebowski," to enhance the consumer viewing experience over a wide range of networks and devices.