Sling prepping SlingPlayer for iPad

Not surprisingly, Sling Media has a SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad in the works. However, it won't be available in April when the iPad launches.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
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David Carnoy
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SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad would stream higher-resolution video and instantly turn the iPad into a sweet portable TV--particularly if you streamed over Wi-Fi. zatznotfunny.com
Back in February, Sling Media, now owned by Echostar, finally got permission to allow users of its SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone app to stream video over AT&T's 3G network instead of just Wi-Fi. We've been playing around with the updated app for a little while and are happy to report that it works as well as it does on other cell phones and cell networks. However, as we were watching some March Madness on the iPhone's smallish screen, we couldn't help but wonder what a great a platform the iPad would be for Sling, so we asked John Santoro, Sling's Senior Marketing Manager when the company would release an iPad app.

"We're working on an great, new version of SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad that takes full advantage of the iPad's features," Santoro wrote back. "We're really excited about the possibilities. However, since it's in development I can't discuss specific features right now."

Coincidentally, Dave Zatz, the purveyor of zatznotfunny.com and a former Sling evangelist, was also curious about what Sling was planning, and contacted his "old peeps" and got a few more details out of them about expanding the output resolution beyond 320×240.

"When it makes a noticeable difference in quality, we will definitely provide higher resolution streaming," said Dave Eyler, Sling's Mobile Product marketing manager. "The iPad is a good example of a device where we are hard at work on this, but unfortunately it won't be there at the April launch."

In other words, if you own the SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone app already (it costs a whopping $29.99), you'll be able to use it with the iPad, but you'll have to wait for a true iPad app that expands the resolution. When that day will come, we can't say, but being able to turn your iPad into a high-resolution portable TV would be pretty killer. (In case you've never heard of Sling, it works a little like this: once you attach a Slingbox to your cable or satellite box and tie it into your home Internet connection, you can then tap into the box remotely using a desktop or laptop computer--or various mobile phones running the SlingPlayer app--and stream video in real time. Since being acquired by Echostar, Sling's been working on building Sling functionality into Dish Network's future set-top boxes, but those products have yet to hit the market).

A few suggestion for Sling moving forward:

1. Quickly release a SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad app that streams high-resolution video over Wi-Fi, so people can use their iPads as TVs in their homes. Don't worry about 3G initially--we understand the challenge of streaming high-resolution video over AT&T's 3G network.

2. Stop calling your SlingPlayer mobile app SlingPlayer Mobile. Just call it SlingPlayer for iPhone. SlingPlayer for Android (due out this summer). Or SlingPlayer for iPad. Shorten things up.

3. Stop charging so much for the iPhone app. If 3G streaming is still a sticking point that requires that someone gets paid off (I have no idea what your agreement with carriers is, but I assume some money changes hands), make a free Wi-Fi version of the app. Sonos gives away its iPhone app, and it's really helped that company spark its sales. You might find that a free iPhone/iPad tie-in to your product is good for sales. I'm sure you've thought of this, but, please, just do it.

Anybody else have any other suggestion for Sling?