Our first look review of the SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Jeff BakalarEditor at Large
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
After some hiccups in the development process, Sling has finally released SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone. The software works with your Slingbox at home, and lets you control and watch your satellite or cable box and DVR from your iPhone or iPod Touch.
All of the functionality found in previous SlingPlayer Mobile platforms is still intact. You'll have access to a menu bar that'll let you use a remote-like interface on-screen to control your box as well as switch sling devices and manage your favorite channels. What's new are a few gestures that'll allow you to scroll through your favorite channels as well as let you scroll up and down through channels.
SlingPlayer Mobile will work with new Slingbox and legacy devices, but Sling officially won't support the Sling Classic, AV, and Tuner models--that means that if you've got a problem with one of those devices, Sling won't be able to help you troubleshoot your issue.
Now here's the real bad news: SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone only works with a Wi-Fi connection, meaning you cannot use the 3G network to stream video. Also, we should note that SlingPlayer Mobile will probably perform better on your home network rather than a public Wi-Fi spot.
Performance wise, the software worked well.
The gesture response is a bit sluggish, but overall it does work. Picture quality will always depend on your connection, but during our testing it was very good although not as smooth as a video you'd play natively off the device's internal storage.
SlingPlayer Mobile will cost $30 at the App Store, which is what the company has charged for the software on other platforms. If you're an iPhone or iPod Touch user and you've already got a Slingbox at home, the mobile software will really let you get the most out of your Slingbox. The ability to control your DVR will come in handy though you'll need to find a hot spot to connect.
That said, if you don't own a Slingbox but do have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you may want to think twice about purchasing a Slingbox. To purchase the device solely for use when you find a public Wi-Fi hotspot isn't exactly practical.
The real irony is that the other versions of SlingPlayer Mobile on PalmOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile phones allow you to stream video over your cell phone network (and the PC and Mac versions of the software are free). At the end of the day, it will really depend on how much you'll use the Slingbox outside of the Wi-Fi only iPhone software.