DISH Network is working on a new set top box that will work as a satellite receiver, personal video recorder, Slingbox, and SlingCatcher. The move isn't particularly surprising. Why would EchoStar have purchased Sling Media if the satellite network didn't plan to release an all-in-one set top box. But this is the first time we've heard the company talk about an actual product.
The announcement came during a recent DISH Network team summit, and Satellite Guys has a writeup with some of the highlights from the event. Here's what we know about the upcoming 722s so far:
- Support for Clip + Sling, which lets you send short video clips over the internet to friends
- Redesigned user interface including a program guide with channel logos
- New UHF remote control with a touchpad
- Front of the unit has a touchscreen and no buttons
- 1 TB hard drive, half of which will be preloaded with HD movies
- Integrated web browser for accessing a handful of web sites
- Also works as a SlingCatcher, letting you watch internet video on your TV
No word on pricing or availability yet. If you don't feel like signing up for DISH Network, you can get all of these features by buying handful of boxes from Sling Media. But the idea of getting a single multi-function box is pretty compelling. If DISH can keep the price down on the 722s or even offer it for free with a subscription, the new box could be a major selling point for the company in its battle against DirecTV and the cable networks.
[via Gizmo Lovers]
The SlingCatcher works as sort of a reverse Slingbox. While the Slingbox lets you stream live and recorded video over the internet from any video source in your home, the SlingCatcher is a set top box that collects web video (including streams from your Slingbox) and shows it on your TV. In other words, it competes with the Apple TV and completes the circle of Slingdom. Plus it looks pretty cool and has a catchy name.
Last August, we found some photos of a new Sling product on the FCC's site. At first it looked like a standard low-end Slingbox without support for HD video. But astute observers noticed that the new device had a built-in cable modem. As it turns out, Sling Media is calling the new device the SlingModem, and the goal is to partner with cable operators to provide SlingModems. There are no plans at the moment to sell SlingModems directly to consumers. Nobody's ready to announce any deals yet, but considering Sling was recently acquired by Echostar, it's interesting to see the company releasing a cable modem.
We already knew that the SlingCatcher would be Sling's first dedicated device that receives video rather than sends it. In other words, you put a SlingCatcher next to your TV and connect it to your home network. Then you can stream video from your PC, the internet, or any other audio/video device that has a Slingbox connected to it.
And here's what we found out by reading the box:
- Support for resolutions up to 1080i
- Support for WMV, MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264 and XviD in a variety of file formats, including .VOB
- Attach a USB 2.0 hard drive or flash drive with at least 1GB of free space and you can download video
Over the past few years, the Slingbox has become synonymous with place-shifting, much the way some people refer to generic PVRs as TiVos. The difference is that Sling Media doesn't face much serious competition yet. While Monsoon Multimedia, Sony, and Orb do make products that compete with the Slingbox in one way or another, place-shifting isn't built into generic set-top-boxes from Motorola or Scientific Atlanta yet.
By acquiring Slingbox, EchoStar is in an excellent position to be an early player in the place-shifting game. The company can continue to sell standalone Slingboxes to non-satellite customers. And EchoStar can integrate Sling technology into its existing products, putting the company far ahead of the competition when it comes to place-shifting.
EchoStar was among the earliest investors in Sling Media, which was founded 3 years ago. What does this mean for future Sling products? It's hard to say, but we're pretty sure EchoStar can pump an awful lot of money into research and development. And it's not like Sling Media was resting on its laurels. The company has put out a number of updates to its original place-shifting Slingbox line, and has a new SlingCatcher device that will bring internet video to your TV set scheduled for release soon.
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