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Sling Streams iTunes Content To TV 134

Posted by kdawson
from the pulling-the-rug dept.
Vitamin_Boy writes "Sling has a new product out, the 'SlingCatcher.' It sends video from the PC to the TV and does it for $200. Oh, and it works with iTunes. Will this undercut Apple's iTV? The Ars Technica article thinks it might: 'The SlingCatcher... is media-agnostic. It doesn't care what codec videos are encoded with, nor whether or not they have been purchased from an approved online store. It is designed to take video output and stream it, which means that you could use the SlingCatcher with video purchased from other online services, such as the iTunes Store or CinemaNow. In this way, the SlingCatcher may turn out to be a one-size-fits-all solution in a field populated with specialty products.'"
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Sling Streams iTunes Content To TV

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Get a card with a TV-OUT? They're not exactly rare.
    • by complete loony (663508) <Jeremy...Lakeman@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @05:43AM (#17520736)
      Yes, but then you have to have your PC next to the TV in the lounge room. There are lots of things you wouldn't be able to do on your PC at the same time, unless you also buy a second sound card and have an OS capable enough to send the audio in the right direction. I'm guessing this product will also come with a remote and IR port, which again adds more costs to the PC solution.
      • by hazem (472289)
        I've been pretty pleased with this little box:

        http://www.vantecusa.com/products/avox/p_avx100tx. html [vantecusa.com] (flash warning)

        It takes any laptop harddrive and plays several popular video and audio formats. It's weak as an mp3 player, but it's great for movies and tv-shows.

        I got mine for about $100 and it comes with a decent remote.

        It has HD out as well as "regular" TV out. You hook it up via USB to your computer to put content on it.

        I think they also make a bigger one takes 3.5" harddrives and has a network port.
      • as far as an os capable of sending sound the right direction: my old setup had a creative external sound card with an optical connector that i ran to my stereo. i was able to tell windows not to touch this, and then set winamp (before they went retarded) to direct output to the soundblaster. it worked great because i was sick of my instantmessaging dings being played with my music.
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "Yes, but then you have to have your PC next to the TV in the lounge room. "

        And this is a big problem how?

        I mean, in this day in age...a computer really doesn't cost much...is a commodity. And most people I know have at least one or two older ones sitting around collecting dust. Throw a tv-out card in them, and hook it to the tv.

        • by fotbr (855184)
          Its not a cost thing for some people.

          I don't want a PC in the entertainment center, for the simple reason that it won't fit.

          I'm not going to buy another $1000+ entertainment center and a $500 computer when I can buy a $200 box that will accomplish the same thing, even though it wouldn't even dent the savings to do so.
      • by kahrytan (913147)
        Dude, they don't call them Media Center PCs for nothing. They are meant to be hooked up to a large LCD and replace the tivo.
    • by Optikschmoptik (971793) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:47AM (#17520946) Homepage

      Actually, this looks like it might be the perfect solution to the problem that TV-out, S-video, et. al. were inadequately addressing.

      I have a 2.5 year-old notebook that is pretty much my entire media center. If I want to watch something with decent resolution, I pretty much have to watch it on my notebook's 15.4" screen. Fine for me watching something on my own, but it's a little frustrating if I want to show a video at someone's house and they've got a brand new gigantic HDTV sitting next to my little LCD. If there happens to be an S-video cable sitting around (probably not), I still need to hunt down an 1/8" to stereo RCA to route the sound out, and the picture quality is still terrible. I looked into alternatives, but there's pretty much no reasonable way to get good video from my laptop onto a nicer screen--VGA to HDMI? VGA to component? I've been told I'd be pretty lucky to get it to work at all (maybe I fell for Dell kiosk fud, but that's part of the same frustration).

      But 802.11g should be easy enough. Let this box worry about video processing and video compatibility. And sound. All my computer has to do is send data, and it's great at doing that. The device's concept seems so obvious, but apparently no one has bothered to try making it until now.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by iainl (136759)
        That's odd. The HDTVs I looked at, and certainly the one I eventually bought, have either VGA or DVI-I sockets, so you can hook up a PC straight to it.
        • by ncc74656 (45571) *

          That's odd. The HDTVs I looked at, and certainly the one I eventually bought, have either VGA or DVI-I sockets, so you can hook up a PC straight to it.

          That may be the case, but not all VGA inputs take all the different resolutions you would expect. I got the cabling behind my parents' big-screen sorted out this past Christmas so they can actually watch HD on it for the first time in the four years they've had that TV. While reading the manual to figure out how to set up the inputs, I noticed that the

      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @08:47AM (#17521564) Homepage Journal
        If that HDTV only has HDMI inputs, and no analog inputs (DVI-I or VGA), that's a pretty lame television set right there. Given the amount of source equipment that produces various flavors of analog video, the world isn't ready for sets that only have digital inputs.

        I do wish that I could find the engineer who thought that Y-Pr-Pb was a fair alternative to some sort of actual RGB-based interconnect (like, I don't know, everything else in existence that uses high-quality analog video, e.g. SCART and 5-pin RGBHV), and throttle them.

        There's really no good reason why consumer video should be this complicated. It's mostly a result of a lack of widely-accepted standards and mutual incompatibility that doing something as seemingly trivial as getting a computer to display on a HDTV (which is nothing but a computer monitor with delusions of grandeur) becomes so complicated. Unfortunately, because consumers have become accustomed to such things being a PITA, they don't go running to the manufacturers with pitchforks in hand, every time one of them produces shoddy gear, as they should.
        • by profplump (309017) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:58AM (#17522306)
          There are good reasons to send YPrPb signal as an output from an MPEG source, such as DVD or OTA HD-TV -- it more closely matches the input MPEG stream format. This allows for less overall mangling becuase it allows the output device, which presumably knows its own color profile, to do the only colorspace conversions that might be necessary.

          I just don't understand why it's the only option. As far as I can tell the only things you have to do to make your input accept RGB and YPrPb is add a menu option and about 25 lines of DSP setup code. Most (if not all) video output devices process to pixel data with matched luminance and hue resolution and do color separations, be that RGB or some higher number of colors. Accepting RGB as input for that conversion seems almost trivial.
      • One more product 'advertised' on Slashdot - Unfortunately, I cannot say that this product is innovative, or new. I have had a D-Link DSM 520 for the last 1 year now. Used to play both Audio and Video from my computer on my TV thru the WiFi interface (also has Ethernet capability - but my living room is not wired up). I recently bought a home theatre. It now plays all that through the HDMI connection on my home theatre. It even has an USB port, and can play content directly from the USB. Catches internet rad
      • by SeaFox (739806)
        If there happens to be an S-video cable sitting around (probably not), I still need to hunt down an 1/8" to stereo RCA to route the sound out...

        Because it would be so hard to just carry these in your laptop bag...

    • by Kadin2048 (468275) <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:12AM (#17521756) Homepage Journal
      True, but as I recently found out to my chagrin, quite a few big-name (Compaq, I'm looking at you) don't let you install additional video cards. I had an old Celeron system that I wanted to use as a frontend STB, so I picked up an old $20 PCI-based video card with an S-Video out. Unfortunately, I didn't think to check the BIOS: there's no way to disable the onboard video and use an aftermarket card. (With the card in, both outputs just give a black screen.) Apparently this is not uncommon in low-end systems. In my case, it meant that I just had to get a new Socket 370 motherboard that didn't suck so much, which these days is another $20 junk-bin part, but it turned a simple drop-in upgrade into essentially rebuilding a computer.

      Sometimes the obvious solutions have unanticipated complications; there's a whole lot of consumer hardware out there that won't "play nice" with anything. For non-technical people, buying a new box may be simpler than upgrading anything they have.
      • by Jonah Hex (651948)
        Check the motherboard for a jumper/switch, that's how the original On-board Video was, and I've found most motherboards who don't have it in the BIOS still use hardware. It's usually even nicely marked with silk screened instructions, if not you might need to check the manual for which J# it is...

        Jonah HEX
  • Is it me or does this sound exactly like TV-out, but instead of a cable, it uses wi-fi between the computer and the box next to the tv?
    • Re:TV-out anyone? (Score:4, Informative)

      by myspys (204685) * on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @05:50AM (#17520764) Homepage
      reply to my own post, bad, but..

      why not use TV-out and http://www.shoptronics.com/2wiauvisesyw.html [shoptronics.com] if one wants to use tv-out but don't want a loooong cable (or put the pc next to the tv)?

      $120 cheaper than Sling Streams
      • by will_die (586523)
        Thanks for the link was looking for something like that but they have been far more then I wanted to pay.
        The product page is http://www.svat.com/gx3000.shtml [svat.com] and it looks like the gx 3100 is just coming out so they don't have the product brochure up yet.
        the 3100 comes with a remote relay abaility so will have to check the brochure to see how that works.
      • by Coppit (2441)
        Because the picture goes to crap as soon as you turn on the microwave, and because you'll have to rip all your DVDs to work around macrovision protection. (The transmitter looks like a VCR to macrovision, so your picture will "pulse" dark.)
      • by jonnythan (79727)
        Because when you use video output right from the PC, you need to use the PC to control the video, switch to the next song/episode/whatever. With a Sling box you don't need to. You sit on your couch, or stay at your board game, or stay at the punch bowl next to the cute girl and use your remote. Or you can hand your buddy the remote and have him control it without having him sit down at your computer.

        It's simple, easy, slick, and no one needs to touch a keyboard or mouse to change the song.
      • http://mytvstore.com/product_id_027.html [mytvstore.com] 50 bucks

        50 bucks. Uses 2.4ghz or 5.8ghz.
    • ...but instead of a cable, it uses wi-fi...
      And therin lies the essential, and elegant, difference.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by teslar (706653)
        And therin lies the essential, and elegant, difference.
        Because now you can tell how many P2P thingies your kids are running by measuring the framerate of your HD video? :)
    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      I could see something like this being interesting, when there is a long distance between TV and computer. So the computer with your movie archive sits in your appartment in NYC, and you are watching them on a TV while on a business trip in Seattle (maybe it's raining and you don't want to go out...). It's not clear to me how much bandwidth is required on both ends, though.
      • It's not clear to me how much bandwidth is required on both ends, though.

        Well, that's not hard to figure out. If you want to watch DVDs via your internet connection, you better be able to put through around 5-6Mb/s, and that's assuming that you have some sort of transcoder that can filter out the unnecessary stuff and pass along only the video and audio stream that you want. The DVD spec allows bitrates up to 10.08Mb/s, if memory serves, including all subs and various audio streams, but a typical commercial one is much lower for the parts you'd actually need to transmit.

        Now, if you have a computer on the transmitting/media-server end that's cable of transcoding the video into some more modern format than MPEG-2, then you can probably start talking about live streaming on a 1Mb pipe. You wouldn't get HDTV, but you could easily push passable 720x480 MPEG-4, at say 800Kb/s for the video and 128Kb/s audio, for a total of around 930Kb/s before adding in your protocol's overhead. So basically, a 1MB/s symmetric connection would probably work.

        It's certainly possible with today's technology, unfortunately, most U.S. broadband connections aren't up to snuff. A lot of folks are on connections that only give them 128, 256, or 512 Kb/s upstream speeds (e.g. even Comcast's premium cable service only offers a paltry 384 kb/s upstream speed with 6Mb/s down, or 768kb/s up with 8Mb/s down). With buffering you could probably make some of those connections work, but I doubt it would be a hit with consumers -- you wouldn't get the same 'instant start' that you do with locally-stored videos (because of all the buffering).

        For the next few years at least, media sharing of the kind you're talking about (where you keep all your content on one system, and dole it out to front-end systems for display), is going to be pretty much a LAN phenomenon.
  • Questions (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    1. Going by the description it appears this would include streaming pay-to-view music videos and DRM protected DVDs. Is that a correct interpretation?

    1a. If so: I assume it streams unencrypted/unencoded video signals rather than the data stream itself. What is to prevent me from plugging the receiver into my DV recorder?

    2. Assuming the alternative, that it streams the original signals: How could an iPod magically gain the software to decode any stream?

    Please enlighten me about how either alternative 1 or al
    • by Andy Dodd (701)
      My guess is that it is a dongle that does one of the following:
      1) Takes your video card's TV-out (if present) and transmits it wirelessly. Plenty of devices do that at far lower prices.
      2) Takes your video card's VGA-out and digitizes it, then either streams the raw digitized video or performs some sort of compression. The question is, what resolution can it handle? I wouldn't be surprised if it was limited to 480p
      3) Presents itself as a virtual video card and/or screeenscrapes your PC a la Windows VNC
      • by Andy Dodd (701)
        Holy shit... Slingbox claims to be able to encode HD in realtime with the Slingbox PRO.

        I wonder how much that thing costs... Depending on its actual capabilities, it may be a new way to record cable/satellite HDTV. :)
  • by oohshiny (998054) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:08AM (#17520800)
    By now, there are half a dozen products that stream video from the PC, from the Web, etc. to your TV. I don't see why people get so excited about either the Sling or iTV--they are nothing new.
    • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @07:15AM (#17521066) Homepage Journal
      I don't see why people get so excited about either the Sling or iTV--they are nothing new.

      For the same reason people got excited about the iPod when there was already the creative mp3 player line (and many others).

      Advertising & Bling. Surely someone with your nick would understand ;-)
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        >Advertising & Bling.

        or, in non-mac-hating reality, interface and form factor.

        the creative was as big and round as a portable CD player and frequently froze.
        • ....and form factor.

          the creative was as big and round as a portable CD player....


          Incorrect. Creative had mp3 players smaller than the original ipod on its release.
      • or nobody has nailed it yet? there is an obvious demand for such a thing, but i guess they are either clunky, or nobody knows they exist. iTV has hype, so when it exists people will go see them in stores, and i am sure other people will say "well this product is kind of the same thing and it will do what you want just fine".

        the Sling is not due to show up till mid 2007. Apple's iTV is due anytime from 1.5 hours from now till March (iirc). it seems that iTV will show up before this product. though this sound
        • by oohshiny (998054)
          there is an obvious demand for such a thing, but i guess they are either clunky, or nobody knows they exist

          The shelves are full of it at Fry's.

          the Sling is not due to show up till mid 2007

          Sling has been around for more than a year; they are on their third generation now and do HDTV.

          all that being said, i'm a Mac person

          Well, iTV looks like a good product, and it's pretty much the only option for Mac users. But that doesn't make it innovative.
          • by kabz (770151)
            I just had a bit of a panic and cancelled my aTV order. I was able to fix quicktime on my Mini to play a52 audio, but it's a dealbreaker for the aTV if I can't pull the same trick.

            I know that it *says* Intel Processor, but the iTV has a slightly iPod feel about it, especially the limited looking range of supported formats.

            I'll probably dedicate a Mini and an AA960 to drive my HD (Component only - stupid WalMart), unless someone can tell me if I can get a52 audio to work on aTV.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ozmanjusri (601766)
      By now, there are half a dozen products that stream video from the PC, from the Web, etc. to your TV.

      Yep, I've been using a Kiss DP1500 [kiss-technology.com]for the past year - it's a DVD player that'll stream video or audio from a shared folder over WiFi. It'll also play web radio and most audio/video formats out there.

      It cost me A$240.00 about a year ago, and yes, it does run Linux...

      • That KISS might be running Linux, but it's also running a pirated version of mplayer.

        KISS is a company of filthy bastards who use Free software and then call the original developers pirates for demanding that KISS obeys the license.

        Google for the details, bottom line is that KISS do not deserve your money.

    • Exactly. I have used MediaMVP's for years, unfortunately they are not HD. The Slingbox is HD, but even that isn't new, there are already several players in the HD space (Dvico TVIX, Mediagate, D-Link, Helios, etc).

      One problem with boxes like Slingbox and iTV are their form factor, they look out of place with normal audio/video components. They look more like toys then serious AV components, which IMO is a mistake because AV geeks are the early adopters of technology like this and if the component doesn't fi
    • I just picked up a D-Link DSM-520 [dlink.com] a few days ago at Fry's for $190, and it does exactly the same thing: plays all the AVI/MPG videos (plus audio and image files) stored on the PC in my office, streaming over an 802.11g wireless link.

      Sure, it doesn't play DRM-locked music downloaded from iTunes, but BFD. The only such files I have are the ones my wife insists on purchasing from Apple.

      Best of all, it has multiple video output options, including composite RCA, S-video, component, and native HDMI.

      Th
    • Let's not forget the Neuros OSD [neurosaudio.com] which does the same thing, and more, and has open source firmware!

      I'm a bit more excited about the OSD because of its hackability factor. It runs Linux - I've got the source and am working on building my own software for it.

  • by patio11 (857072) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:15AM (#17520816)
    I recently bought a new computer monitor, and it is iTunes compatible!!!1

    No, seriously, we get it -- its an output device. It can output whatever the heck you want to the TV, be it iTunes or World of Warcraft or your Open Office spreadsheet (which probably makes for better television than half of the lineup). If it couldn't output whatever the heck you wanted, THAT would be news to the Slashdot "Egads DRM is choking us to death!" faction. And they'd be mostly right to be upset about that.
  • The DRM is end-to-end, so this will only receive the "degraded" signal. Still no different than TV-out.
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      People actually use Vista? Wow! I wonder if Windows has considered selling snow to Eskimos, because clearly people will by any shit they're willing to sell.
  • Nice idea, but - (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dark Paladin (116525) <jhummel@NospaM.johnhummel.net> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:39AM (#17520916) Homepage
    A) We've seen this before, so what's the change?
    B) My understanding of the iTunes store sharing is that when you want to view a video/play a song you purchased, it checks to see if the client you're using is authorized. If Slingbox hasn't broken that DRM system, then how can it be used for iTunes purchased shows?
    • The client iTunes sees is your computer (which has to be authorized). Simply put, the Slingbox is just like a TV-out + v e r y thin wires.
  • by bobintetley (643462) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:41AM (#17520924)

    How is this better than the Hauppage MVP [hauppauge.com]?

    Not to blow my own trumpet, but I did a fair bit of work on the mvpmc [mvpmc.org] project to get VLC streaming integration working on this device.

    The Hauppage MVP can be picked up for around 50 USD, it sits next to your TV and has an ethernet (or wireless if you want to pay a bit more) connection and a remote. It can integrate with slimserver for music playback, MythTV, can play MPEG1/2 video directly from shares (and any kind of video via VLC, which it does by requesting a vod transcoded MPEG2 stream and allowing you to control it transparently via the MVP remote), and is far more flexible than this - AND cheaper!

    • by bobintetley (643462) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:47AM (#17520950)

      And if I read the article, I'd have noticed the big deal was DRMed crapola from iTunes.... that'll teach me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ray Radlein (711289)
      The MediaMVP is a wonderful little device (we've got one in our bedroom), but mvpmc is not exactly a solution for everyone (I'm fairly technical, and I still haven't screwed up my courage enough to use any of the various replacement MVP solutions yet), and the native MVP software languished for almost a year before being updated a few times recently.

      The big new thing here is the playing of iTunes videos: I still remember how pissed off I was when I discovered that there was no way of streaming the Battle
      • The MediaMVP is a wonderful little device (we've got one in our bedroom), but mvpmc is not exactly a solution for everyone (I'm fairly technical, and I still haven't screwed up my courage enough to use any of the various replacement MVP solutions yet), and the native MVP software languished for almost a year before being updated a few times recently.

        Frankly, the MVP is probably one of the safest devices to fiddle around with: it boots its software over the net and - so you can try out whatever you want and if you don't like it or it doesn't work, pulling the plug will solve all problems.

        The big new thing here is the playing of iTunes videos: I still remember how pissed off I was when I discovered that there was no way of streaming the Battlestar Galactica episode I bought from iTunes down to the TV in the living room. I was not about to make my wife and her mother crowd around a computer monitor to watch it. Since, last I checked, VLC won't play iTunes protected videos, using it as a bridge to stream content wouldn't work (if there's a way around that, I'm all ears!).

        Well, that'll teach you, then.

        Go and pay iTunes for its stuff if it gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling, and then download it via bittorrent, so you have a clean copy that you can actually use.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Ray Radlein (711289)
          Well, that'll teach you, then.

          In fact, it did.

          Go and pay iTunes for its stuff if it gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling, and then download it via bittorrent, so you have a clean copy that you can actually use.

          There are some people who might allege that I did exactly that. I, of course, have no comment as to the veracity of such hypothetical allegations.

    • As an aside about mvpmc, I would really love it if there were actual precompiled packages available for it through yum or rpm or whatever; a README which says "make sure you have this cross-compilation environment, run make this, make that, make so-and-so, oh, and here's how you compile the kernel..." is fairly off-putting, especially when you know that all of the stuff that somes after that in the setup process is going to be just as painful. :-(
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bobintetley (643462)
        If you just want a working mvpmc and don't plan on doing any development, you can just download a dongle file - it's a single binary file that you stick in your /tftpboot directory to serve to the MVP via tftp (it's actually a squashfs image).

        All releases of mvpmc have one of these binary dongles and a nightly process builds upto date ones if you need new improvements (I and most of the other devs also put up new ones on our project pages if we're working on something we want folks to test, but don't want t
        • Point is, if you just want mvpmc you don't need to compile it.

          That's good to know... what about the server-side software? I assume that there is some software running the equivalent of Haupage's MVPStart service to do the back-end stuff; is that pre-packaged?

          • MVPMC does require that you have a DHCP server and a TFTP server to send the OS image. You then need SMB or NFS shares to share content to it (and VLC, MythTV and SlimServer depending on what you want to do with your MVP).

            If you have a Windows machine and the Hauppage software, I *think* (don't quote me on that - I don't use Windows some I'm not 100% on this) that you can rename the Hauppage dongle.bin file to something else and replace it with the mvpmc one (the Hauppage software has a stripped down DHCP a
            • by julesh (229690)
              If you have a Windows machine and the Hauppage software, I *think* (don't quote me on that - I don't use Windows some I'm not 100% on this) that you can rename the Hauppage dongle.bin file to something else and replace it with the mvpmc one (the Hauppage software has a stripped down DHCP and TFTP server).

              Yes, that works. Its what I did when I first tried mvpmc, although I use a Linux TFTP server now (although its with the DHCP provided by my router).
            • If you have a Windows machine and the Hauppage software, I *think* (don't quote me on that - I don't use Windows some I'm not 100% on this) that you can rename the Hauppage dongle.bin file to something else and replace it with the mvpmc one (the Hauppage software has a stripped down DHCP and TFTP server).

              I am completely gobsmacked by the sheer whydidntithinkofthat-edness of that solution.

              Our setup here is that we have the MVP in our bedroom, and a Pinnacle ShowCenter downstairs in the living room; in

    • HDMI (Score:2, Informative)

      by diesel66 (254283)
      The Sling thing and Apple's iTV have HDMI out. The Hauppage thing appears to just have component out. If you want to drive the latest widescreen LCDs and Plasmas to their potential, HDMI is pretty helpful. That would be an important factor for me, anyway.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by VorlonFog (948943)
        "That Hauppauge thing" is the Media MVP, and it has S-Video out, and if you have a SCART version, RGB.
      • by gordo3000 (785698)
        but isn't that a bit wasteful? neither of these guys can actually stream live HD video off the computer. Apple's website was talking about 640x480 which isn't even close to what my neighbor's(I don't own a TV right now) TV does. It would be nice to have, but first we need wireless networks that allow for live streaming of HD video(I don't think bandwidth is there). Am I missing something? I haven't seen anything about actual HD video being uploaded. Did I miss a headline?
    • by mbourgon (186257)
      The main difference is that you pull the Sling out of the box, plug it in, install a piece of software (presumably...), and you're done. Yours looks pretty good (although I suspect the Sling will probably be more "shiny"), and I think I may buy one... but the original software that shipped with it was pretty 'basic', and that's what most people judge a product on. How does it work out of the box? Not too good? Oh, darn.

      Not to criticize your work - since it looks like y'all have really improved the inter
    • by glindsey (73730)
      Where can you find it for $50? Best I've seen it for is $90...

      I'd love to find it cheaper, because this sounds like the perfect thing to replace the MediaPortal machine in my living room. Don't get me wrong, I love MP, but having a whole PC there is just overkill for what I'd like to do...
    • by mbourgon (186257)
      Bob, where can I get this for $50? I just checked google and buy.com, and the lowest price I can find is $80 ($95 from buy.com)
      • I'm in the UK, but last time I spoke to some of the other devs, they said that Radio Shack in the US are selling off their stocks of them - in some stores as low as $40. Here in the UK, you can get them for around £25-£40 on eBay or £60 from Amazon.

        Hauppage are selling an improved model now which is a little more expensive (hence the wired only model is harder to get hold of), but it has both ethernet and 802.11g interfaces - haven't looked at what the price is in the US, but here you can
  • This? Nah. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Erwos (553607) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:43AM (#17520932)
    Apple's probably far more worried about the Xbox 360's movie and TV download service, which is apparently doing very, very well. That's not to say this is a bad product - I can think of uses for it - but at the same time, it also seems like a hassle in terms of interface, and interface is king to a lot of folks.
  • Undercut? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gord (23773) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:45AM (#17520940) Homepage
    > Will this undercut Apple's iTV?

    It's a bit difficult to tell since it's not even released yet, nor have many details been made public.

    Will find out more at today's keynote I expect.
    • Yeah, I was also surprised by this line:

      In this way, the SlingCatcher may turn out to be a one-size-fits-all solution in a field populated with specialty products.

      iTV hasn't been released. XBox 360 may be a specialty product, but I'd say the field is primarily populated with products like MediaMVP [hauppauge.com].

      The line should read:

      In this way, iTV and XBox360 may turn out to be specialty solutions in a field dominated by one-size-fits-all products, such as SlingBox, MediaMVP, MythTV, SageTV, and BeyondTV.

    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      since Apple and other media selling companies are likely to have it taken off the market for some made up DMCA violation or other frivolous reason, it may not be an issue that we don't know much yet
  • $200? How about no. Buy original Xbox for £50, perform softmod, install XBMC, rejoice!

    Really these stories are very mundane now I've been watching content from my PC on my TV for over a year now, even streaming content directly from the net onto my TV for just as long. It's not wireless, but you already had cat5 running to the tv area right?

    The only thing that XBMC is lacking is support for HD. The Xbox's poor little cpu just can't handle decoding it. As soon as the 1st "next gen" console is capable o
    • by Viol8 (599362)
      "Buy original Xbox for £50, perform softmod, install XBMC, rejoice!"

      I can just see Joe Public managing that. Not. These devices are meant for average people to use , not technophiles with plenty of knowledge and time on their hands.

      "Really these stories are very mundane now I've been watching content from my PC on my TV for over a year now, even streaming content directly from the net onto my TV for just as long. It's not wireless, but you already had cat5 running to the tv area right?"

      You definately
      • I can just see Joe Public managing that. Not. These devices are meant for average people to use , not technophiles with plenty of knowledge and time on their hands.

        Good job I don't read news sites intended for Joe Public then, else I might have offended someone. This is Slashdot, where people use velocity sensors on laptops to remote control robotic cleaners. I fail to see where Joe Public comes into play.

        This technology is a year behind where we should be right now. It's not new at all, it's been done before several times. It's probably the cheapest out of the box implementation but that hardly makes it news. Where's the headline for £10 mp3 players?

      • by Otto (17870)

        I can just see Joe Public managing that. Not.
        You can buy a prehacked Xbox with XBMC already on it off ebay for around $100. Heck, mine came with an upgrade hard drive (to 200 Gig) and it was only $120. And that was a hardware mod, not a softmod.

        Really, it requires very little technical knowledge to setup and use. Plays anything and everything I've thrown at it so far.
  • Apple's iTV should also be largely media-agnostic, apart from WIndows only DRM schemes. The box should run a FrontRow like interface, and currently FrontRow can play whatever Quicktime can - including DivX, XviD, so it should be pretty damn video flexible.

    Anyway, more will be revealed in about 4 hours...
  • Meme Alert: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zaphod2016 (971897) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @08:10AM (#17521294) Homepage
    media-agnostic
    adj.

    Without devotion to specific codecs, nor specific (approved) stores. Designed as a one-size-fits-all solution.

    Current Google Index: [google.com] 13,900.

    I like this phrase. I love this concept. Here's hoping we hear it a lot more often in the wake of the recent BlueRay/HDDVD debacle.
  • Will it be technologically superior to iTunes? Most likely. But it is not iTunes technical superiority that will make it the more popular product, if we applied this reasoning to all of Apple's ventures then the iPod would not be the top mp3 player, .mac wouldn't be used and the last iTunes cell would have been even more of a failure. Apple have an ability to sell a product to consumers who simply do not care about it's effectiveness so long as it fits into their existing Apple set up. I have no doubt Ap
    • by gordo3000 (785698)
      its always deserved. its the same success microsoft had/has. If you build enough of an itunes base, you are virtually set if you make your standard hard to sync with. People will pay an extra 100$ to apple for the same or even less capable hardware to do just what you said, continue integrating.

      granted, I do want to see the iPhone in action. It looks interesting(though personally, I think touch screen are crap simple because after 1 week of use, they are covered in fingerprints that are hard to clean o
  • The SlingCatcher... is media-agnostic.
    So they are saying the SlingCatcher isn't sure if media exists? I am all for media "hipspeak" if it makes them feel better/cooler, but at least have it make sense....
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      No, by strict definition, it'd mean the SlingCatcher believes it is impossible to know if media exists.

      "1. a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience."

      How we developed AI and are only worried if it cares whether media exists or not, I have no idea.
  • If the device streams video from the video output and doesn't care about the application that generates it, then it follows that you cannot have a remote control for pauses, jumps, etc (or have to provide and configure one yourself, and have some way of sending the signal to the PC, and then you probably can make your own setup to send the video to the TV).

    For me, having a remote is important stuff when watching TV, I guess the average Joe would agree with me, specially if he has to climb some stairs to rew
    • by hesiod (111176)
      > If the device streams video from the video output and doesn't care about the application that generates it, then it follows that you cannot have a remote control for pauses, jumps, etc

      Yeah, because that's exactly as silly as claiming you can pause live video broadcasts from Television!

      Just slap a DVR into what you think this thing is, and you will have exactly what you say it can't be.
  • My limited understanding of Apple's iTV (we'll all know for sure later today) is that it will integrate with iTunes libraries, share whatever media is there, cache it locally and/or stream it over a home network, and do it all with little further thought from the user. Oh, and it'll use the Apple Remote, natch.

    Unless the SlingCatcher can match that kind of instantaneous ease-of-use, it won't undercut anything.
  • Is that the market will split into a couple of factions... 1 is the content providers (itms, etc) providing music/video via DAAP or some equivalent mechanism, and the hardware providers (apple, sling, etc) providing set top boxes or TV's with built-in DAAP clients....

    That means, I'm waiting for the $1000 42" LCD TV with built-in ethernet/wifi that connects to my household MythTV backend with a DAAP plugin.

    The pieces are almost there. Probably less than a year.

  • The Sling Catcher is a dead item out of the box. They missed the perfect device.

    It should, WITHOUT A PC, be able to connect to and control a slingbox.

    If I could drag that box to my vacation home, plug in and watch the CATV from home on the TV in my villa I would be all over it.

    Hell college kids could snake one to school and watch their TV lineup from home.

    No, they make this crappy box that is a glorified VNC display device just like the Hauppanage Media MVP.... No thanks.
  • The Neuros OSD does this as well, runs linux, and is open source. What more could a Slashdot geek want?

    The only limitation I see with the OSD is the fact that it only does composite out.

  • How is this different than the Mvix Wireless HD Media Center (except for the clearly obvious differences, of course and the price) http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/drives/8e50/ [thinkgeek.com].
  • Does media-agnostic include EyeTV [elgato.com] libraries? I need something that can stream EyeTV content from a central HD archive to another TV in the house.

    Currently, I have two media rooms - one casual family room and one home theatre room. The casual family room has a re-purposed iMac RevA running EyeTV and a TV Tuner/Encoder box [plextor.com], using a 1TB RAID1 array for storage of recorded analog cable programming, pira-ahem downloaded content, and ripped DVDs [mactheripper.org]. EyeTV can be coaxed into encoding programming for our iPod wit

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