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R.I.P. Slingbox: All devices will stop working by 2022

Sling Media’s Slingbox, the innovative family of devices that let users stream their live cable or satellite TV service anywhere in the world with an internet connection, has been officially discontinued as of November 9, 2020. Owners of existing Slingbox devices can continue to use them for the next 24 months, but after that, the company will shut down its servers, rendering the products useless.

For those who have been following the Slingbox story, this won’t come as a huge surprise. Slingbox shut down its manufacturing operations in 2017 and has been focused on selling off the remaining inventory ever since. In recent months, it has been almost impossible to find new Slingboxes at retailers.

The reason given for the shutdown in Sling Media’s announcement is peculiar, to say the least. “We’ve had to make room for new innovative products so that we can continue to serve our customers in the best way possible.” That sounds like the company might be about to release a new generation of Slingbox devices, but, no, the very next item in the general questions section puts the kibosh on that possibility.

In some ways, a pandemic has proven to be the perfect time to shutter a service like Slingbox. Its primary benefit was the ability to watch your cable and satellite content while away from home. Given that very few of us are away from home for extended periods right now, the impact on Slingbox users should be quite low.

But even if we weren’t in the middle of battling COVID-19, the streaming tsunami that is Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, etc., has almost totally wiped out the very need that the Slingbox addressed so elegantly and uniquely: How to watch your favorite content from anywhere.

Dish Network, Sling Media’s parent company, integrated Slingbox functionality into several of its satellite DVRs, like the ViP922 and Hopper with Sling. In the past, subscribers would have used the Sling Media app to access the live and recorded content from these boxes, but these days, that’s been replaced with the Dish Anywhere app.

It should probably go without saying, but if you do happen to find a Slingbox for sale somewhere in the dark recesses of a retail website, don’t buy it. And if you currently own a Slingbox, you may want to stop using it. Despite the fact that it should continue to work for the next 24 months, it won’t be getting any more software updates, which as Slashgear rightly points out, could be a golden opportunity for bad actors seeking security holes.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
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