Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sling that video

Eclipsed by the announcement of the iPhone, apple also revealed the release version of the Apple TV. Thanks for leaving the i off of this one guys.

The Apple TV is a device that allows you to stream video from your Mac or PC to your television. Brilliant! Many people are content to watch full length video on their computer, I’m not one of them. (Nothing like wrangling up the gang for an episode Lost sharing an office chair and a 19 inch monitor.) This was an obvious next step, it’s just strange that it’s taken this long. Many television and movie companies have finally put their content online, but that’s not ideally where people want to view it.

Of course the Apple TV has great future potential such as video on demand and possible partnerships with Google (YouTube) or Netflix (all speculation of course). Until then however it seems as though it may be a bit limited. Playing only content purchased from iTunes or stored on your hard drive in a specific format. That is why they may have a bit of competition.

Enter SlingCatcher. A couple of years ago Sling Media burst on the scene with their SlingBox, an ugly (their much more attractive now) yet wonderful device that was capable of “slinging” video from ones television to nearly any device with an internet connection. Their new, not yet released device the SlingCatcher, does the opposite. Finally, that wonderful web content brought to the biggest screen in the house comfortably in front of the couch.

The price of the SlingCatcher is more attractive at $200 vs. the Apple TV’s $300. Both will feature HDMI 1.3, and component for video and Ethernet and WiFi options for network connectivity.

The main benefit of the SlingCatcher is that is will probably be media agnostic. You can play multiple video formats on it and they will not need to be purchased “legally” from any content provider, or go though the hassel of converting them to a suitable format. Torrents anyone?

Much of the success of either of these will also depend on the interface, and we all know who has the edge on that.

This could be a HUGE venue in consumer electronics in the coming years. We’ll see how this plays out, but these will not be the only two devices in the game, I expect Linksys, Belkin, Netgear and the likes to jump in at any time. Until then, start looking for a bigger hard drive.

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