The new Slingbox: The ultimate TV companion

Yesterday we got a look at the latest evolution of DISH Network’s Hopper DVR with the incorporation of “Sling” technology. The Sling Broadcom 7425 chipset, now onboard all DISH Network DVRs, allows the company to provide its customers with mobile access to all of its content, along with many other cool new applications. But today, we peaked around the corner of DISH Network, literally, to check out the Slingbox booth and see the hardware side of “Sling” technology with the latest version(s) of the Slingbox.

For those who don’t have DISH Network (or any other cable or satellite product for that matter), the Slingbox offers a very cool way to watch any content in your home from a mobile device or computer, regardless of where you are in the world through a WiFi or ethernet connection. However, the new Slingbox has followed the same path as many other technologies at CES, by getting a lot smarter this year. If you just want general mobile content “Slung” to your phone or tablet, Slingbox offers the Slingbox 350 for $179.99. However, if you’re looking for a bit more, you’ll want to check out the Slingbox 500, which will run you $299.99, but is probably well worth the upgrade.

Slingbox revealed a slew of new features for the Slingbox 500 today at CES, most of which are available through it’s mobile applications. With the new features called “My Media” and “Slingbox Companion,” not only can you watch all content beamed into the Box from anywhere, you can also take a firmer control over what and how you watch TV. The 500 lets you connect to websites like Facebook, so you can find out and watch whatever content you’re friends are “liking,” as well as allowing you to interact with live sports by getting real-time updates on stats, and even monitor multiple games at once from your tablet. Essentially, the new features turn your smart phone or tablet into the ultimate remote control through Slingbox’s intuitive new mobile interface, which is loaded with enough parameters to make any serious TV watcher salivate. The new options make digging for a decent show through the melee of terrible programming almost a pleasure.

But beyond TV content, the Slingbox 500 is one of many new devices we’ve seen at CES this year that makes your “dumb” TV smarter, by giving you access to all of your media in one place. The 500 allows you to plug in a hard drive via USB so you can watch video files, pics, and any other content stored on your drive from your tablet or smart phone away from home, or easily throw all of it onto your TV from the convenience of your couch.

We were genuinely excited about the new functions of “The Hopper with Sling” from DishNetwork. But as a stand alone device, the Slingbox is fantastic in it’s own right. Though the Slingbox 500 is a bit on the expensive side, it allows its customers an unprecedented amount of freedom to monitor, control, and categorize what they want to watch, while also making the TV experience more fun. We think this next year could be a big one for DishNetwork and Slingbox, and we’ll be keeping an eye out for what both companies do next.

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