Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sling TV First Impression...the missing link for cord cutters.

After a week of using the new Sling TV streaming service under its "reviewer program", here's what I'll tell you:

It is pretty awesome!

But you have to appreciate it for what it inexpensive alternative with limited channels compared to much more expensive packages with many more channels than most people will ever watch.

When it goes live to the general public in a couple of weeks, it is hard to see it not taking off and over time increasing the number of cord cutters significantly.

Here are my first impressions:

As a slimmed down bundle it covers all of the bases for an entertInment, sports, casual TV browsing and some stuff for kids.

So far, I've watched a few college basketball games on ESPN (the main thing I've missed since cutting the cord from Mi-Connection a few months ago), and I've watched a couple of kids movies from Sling's on demand offerings.

The user interface is pretty standard across multile platforms.  That's an improvement over other streaming services which can look significantly different depending on how they are accessed.  We have a Roku 3, iPad, and Android phone hooked Sling TV. For live TV they all have the same look and feel.

A lot has been written about the so called limitations of the platform such as its single stream setup or the lack of a DVR.  Those have been a non-issue for me.

If I'm watching sports and my kids want to watch something else, they are on Netflix anyway, so that limitation doesn't matter.  Also, if I just want the TV on for back ground or to watch something mindless there's always something on TBS, TNT, Food Network, or HGTV that falls into that category.  I don't need  DVR for that.  I also use Hulu Plus which basically provides the same functionality as a DVR for most broadcast network shows I'm interested in watching.

Another common criticism I've seen of Sling TV is that it doesn't have local broadcast channels.  No, it doesn't, but a $30 digital antenna works just fine on the livingroom TV which is where I watch local news anyway.

There are two relatively minor usability issues that will take some getting used to but are not show stoppers.

The first is that different stations have different playback options such as on Food Network you can play back things for up to 3 days whereas on TBS you cannot.  Not a big deal, but still unusual.

The other unusual thing is with the on demand offering. If you want to do on demand from a mobile device such as an iPad you have to save the movie to your watchlist from the iPad Sling TV app, then go to the Dish Network website to actually rent the movie, then go back to Sling TV app to watch it.  When doing this from the Roku it can all be done in the Roku version of the Sling TV app with a single button.  That difference certainly seems like an issue that would eventually get resolved, but for now it is a bit quirky.

All in all, I would definitely recommend giving it a try once it goes public.  It could definitely save you a lot of money if you find it meets your needs.  It certainly does for me.

Now, it's time to get back to paying attention to the Duke/Notre Dame game that's been playing on ESPN2 while I've been writing this.   The Irish have just pulled ahead of the Blue Devils 71 - 70 with 1:40 to go!

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