The folks who let us watch our TVs wherever we happen to be are offering Windows users a sneak peek at the next version of the software that makes it all work. Sling Media this morning announced a public beta of SlingPlayer for Windows version 2.0, which will be available on the Sling Media Downloads page for anyone who wants to take it out for a spin. Key features of the update include an integrated program guide, a video buffer right in the SlingPlayer client software, and centrally managed Sling Accounts.
Sling’s integrated Guide feature puts a schedule right on the user’s laptop or desktop computer, making it easy for those who want to watch live programming from their Slingbox-connected home TV to see what’s on and choose a program without the delays of accessing a distant set-top box’s program guide and squinting at text that’s traveling halfway around the world.
A live video buffer right in SlingPlayer will let users pause, rewind, or fast-forward through up to an hour of video, whether or not there’s a TiVo or other DVR hooked to the Slingbox on the other end. Those who do have a DVR can still use its capabilities, but will have the option of pausing, etc., locally, without the delays involved in remote-control signals being transmitted over the net.
Sling Accounts will allow users to store their personalized program guide settings and channel line-ups, favourite channels, and Slingbox IDs and passwords on Sling Media’s central servers. This should eliminate the need to reconfigure SlingPlayer’s settings each time it’s installed on a new laptop, office desktop, or even cybercafe kiosk.
The company says the long-awaited Clip+Sling feature, announced over a year and a half ago at CES 2007, didn’t make it into the public beta. The release of Clip+Sling, which lets Slingbox owners create and share short segments of video from what they’re watching with anyone, is still pending while the company negotiates with content owners and distributors. The 2.0 software, though, will provide the underlying flexibility the company needs to release Clip+Sling and other new features.
Sling Media is also working on a new version of SlingPlayer for Macintosh, which will bring these features to Apple’s platform, but no time frame is available for a Mac update.