CNET First Look
Sling TV review: Live ESPN, CNN and others for $20 per month is great, but not for everyoneFor the price of a cheap dinner, Sling TV "unbundles" traditional cable TV channel lineups with a handful of Internet-delivered channels, including ESPN, TNT, CNN and Disney. It mostly works great, but read the fine print before you cancel cable.
Welcome to the future of TV. Okay, fine, that's an overstatement, but the service I'm reviewing here is the first of its kind, and at least provides a glimpse of where TV might be headed. I'm talking about Sling TV. It's an alternative to traditional cable and satellite TV, and the best part is the cost. It's just 20 bucks a month for a package in some ESPN, TNT, CNN, the Disney Channel, HGTV and others. These are live TV channels, just like you get from cable, but the delivered over your Internet connection. I'll start with the good parts, there's no contract and no obligations. If you don't like it, you can just cancel and you're out 20 bucks. Sling TV comes in the form of an app, and chances are you already own at least one device that's compatible. For most of my testing I used a Roku three connected to a big TV. But I also tested the Android and IOS apps on my phone and an iPad. Slings has a bunch more devices including Xbox One, Amazon Fire Stick and Chromecast. And even some smart TV's will be supported. Video quality was very good for the most part. And in testing I experienced few instance of buffering and lag. If your internet connection is robust enough to handle Netflix or Amazon streaming, it should do fine with Sling TV. The app also has a bandwidth limiter, so you can avoid using up all your data. Aside from the lack of popular basic cable channels, like regional sports networks, Comedy Central, Fox News, Bravo and AMC. Sling TV also has its share of downsides. On most channels you're prevented from pausing or rewinding so, of course, you can't skip commercials. There's no real DVR functionality, and not much available on demand. The biggest red flag for many people, is Sling TV's single-stream nature. You can't watch a second stream on the same account, for example, a second TV in the bedroom, while one stream is already playing. Still, if you like the channel lineup and don't mind the restrictions, Swing TV's basic $20 price with no commitment makes it worth a try. Who knows? You might even like it enough to ditch cable. I'm David [UNKNOWN] for CNet. [MUSIC]