EchoStar, Sling Media debut new products at CES
Sling Media announced the development and CableLabs certification of what the company claims is the first cable modem that fully integrates the place-shifting capabilities pioneered in the original Slingbox: the SlingModem.
The SlingModem allows users to watch and control TV programming on any Internet-connected device, such as a PC, Mac or compatible smartphone. Additionally, customers with a digital cable STB can connect the SlingModem to the set-top for access to live or recorded TV programming.
"Both Sling Media customers and the industry have asked whether the acquisition by EchoStar would limit Sling Media's focus to products for Dish Network and other satellite TV service operators," said Blake Krikorian, co-founder and CEO of Sling Media. "The introduction of the SlingModem demonstrates our operator-agnostic philosophy, as well as our commitment to the cable industry. We are working with MSOs, both in the U.S. and worldwide, and we expect to deliver the SlingModem through OEM customers in 2008."
The SlingModem provides the cable customer with both a broadband connection, as well as the place-shifting functionality of the Slingbox. The only required input for the modem is the coaxial cable from the wall.
And for the first time, Sling Media is showcasing the SlingCatcher, a STB that delivers broadcast TV, Internet-based content and personal media to the TV. The product is slated for retail in Q2 at a price of $249.99.
The SlingCatcher is bundled with three built-in applications - SlingPlayer for TV, SlingSync and SlingProjector - that combine to create a unified media platform capable of pulling content from disparate places and consolidating them onto a single TV screen, the company said.
Sling Media is also debuting its Clip+Sling as part of the company's new SlingPlayer 2.0 client software for the PC, which gives Slingbox customers the ability to 'placeshift' their TV content to a desktop or laptop computer. Clip+Sling allows Slingbox customers to grab snippets of their favorite TV content and share it with friends.
As part of the demonstration, Sling Media is also giving a sneak peak of the forthcoming video destination site, Sling.com. Clips made by Slingbox customers will be uploaded to Sling.com, creating personal playlists and feeds that can be viewed and subscribed to by other Slingbox customers, as well as the community at large, the company said.
And EchoStar plans to offer two new digital-to-analog converter boxes that will be distributed as part of the digital transition.
The TR-40 over-the-air converter allows analog TVs to receive digital over-the-air broadcasts. Other features include up to a seven day electronic programming guide (EPG), program search, parental locks and VCR auto-tune timers.
The TR-40 will be sold under both the EchoStar and Sling Media brand names for $39.99, and it can be purchased via the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's  (NTIA) Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program.
EchoStar will also offer the TR-50 DVR digital-to-analog converter box, allowing customers to view, record and play back local over-the-air analog and digital broadcasts, including those in HD.
The TR-50 DVR offers all of the TR-40 features, as well as closed captioning, reminder pop-ups for pre-selected programming, simultaneous output from HD and SD connections, and Ethernet, modem and USB connections to support additional functionality.
The TR-40 is sampling now and will be available in limited quantities in March and unlimited quantities in June of this year, the company said. The TR-50 DVR will be available in July. Pricing for the TR-50 DVR will be established in the coming months.
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