The Slingbox, a TV streaming media device made by Sling Media, has received a nice little firmware update earlier today bringing support for AirPlay, a technology from Apple that streams media from iOS devices and Macs to a TV set through the $99 Apple TV set-top box. It’s a notable enhancement: with AirPlay, owners of Slingboxes can stream live television from their Slingbox-connected TV to any Apple TV-connected TV set.
In addition to AirPlay support, the firmware update brings on-demand high-definition movies from Blockbuster and support for Apple’s just-released OS X Mavericks (a free upgrade on the Mac App Store). More on that in just a second…
So, why’s this such a big deal?
Because the Slingbox + AirPlay combo lets you sling live television and DVR recordings to a second/remote TV inside your home/elsewhere without having to buy an additional set-top from your pay TV provider.
In a way, the feature turns your Apple TV into a SlingCatcher by way of iOS and AirPlay. AirPlay streaming is available for the Slingbox 500, Slingbox 350, Slingbox Pro-HD and Slingbox Solo devices.
Echostar-owned Sling Media said the new firmware also brings out the ability to stream content from DISH-onwed Blockbuster to the Slingbox 500 device (by the way, Dish and EchoStar split into separate companies a few years back). The Slingbox 500 can now access media on a USB drive attached to the device by way of the SlingPlayer app for Mac and Windows PCs.
Another addition: the SlingPlayer web software is now compatible with OS X Mavericks and Safari 7, in addition to Microsoft Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11. Support for SlingPlayer for iOS and Android devices is coming soon.
Because the Slingbox was designed to beam your home content outwards, it works by encoding video into the VC-1 format, which allows for transmission over the Internet – even to a remote Apple TV-enabled location.
The device comes with an IR blaster and both the blaster and video encoding can be managed over the web, letting customers remotely view and control their home’s cable, satellite, or personal video recorder from virtually any device connected to the Internet.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the place-shifting feature did not sit well with Fox which tried to kill Dish’s Slingbox set-top boxed – fortunately, to no avail.
The Slingbox 500/350 support 1080p video and cost $299.99/$179.99.