Slingmedia’s Slingbox is one of my most favorite things in the whole wide world. Plug a Slingbox into your home’s cable or satellite dish box and you can sling TV and video to any PC, from anywhere in the world over the Internet. What’s more, you can control your black box as though you were sitting in front of the TV in your den. I watch TV on my PC when I'm home and on my laptop when I travel.
So, when the Sunday Boston Globe landed on my doorstep last weekend with Best Buy’s usual ad brochure in it, I became as happy as a giant quahog. Right there, on page 7 was the Slingbox Solo — on sale for $149.99. However, it wasn’t the $30 off that excited me. It was the first line of copy: “Now watch TV on your laptop or iPhone…”
I’ve had a Slingbox for years, and when a lightning strike blew out my box and other electronics a while back, I was happy. That meant I could upgrade to one of the latest models.
I’ve been waiting for SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone for what seems like forever. Slingmedia has had a player for Blackberry owners for months and months and it has even demo-ed SlingPlayer Mobile running on the iPhone.
Even now, Slingmedia says on its Web site that an iPhone version is “coming soon.” I’ve also heard the app is under review in the App Store and will be released “any day now.” I’d been hearing that stuff for so long that I almost stopped believing I would ever see it happen.
My hopes for watching TV on my iPhone sank even lower in early April when AT&T changed the fine print in its terms of service to say:
While most common uses for Intranet browsing, email and intranet access are permitted by your data plan, there are certain uses that cause extreme network capacity issues and interference with the network and are therefore prohibited. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation . . .downloading movies using P2P file sharing services, redirecting television signals for viewing on Personal Computers, web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices....
A week later, AT&T backpedaled and said it would permit TV signals to sling to the iPhone but it would only do that after it upgraded its network to handle the increased video traffic it anticipates.
Who knows when that’s going to happen. I suspect AT&T’s earlier stance of wanting to cap video bandwidth is behind the delay of SlingPlayer Mobile of the iPhone.
Meanwhile, I check the App Store everyday to see whether the app is in stock. I’ve also signed up at Sling’s site to be alerted by email when SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone is finally introduced, so I’ve been checking my email every 5 minutes, instead of the usual every 10 minutes. I've also pinned Best Buy’s ad on my bulletin board thinking it might keep hope alive but instead, it taunts me with things that may, or never, come to pass “any day now.”