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Sling Media Updates Its Consumer Boxes

10/14/2012 08:00:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK – Sling Media introduced its fourth-generation Sling Box last week, its first new consumer introduction in four years.

The rollout consists of two devices, the Sling 350 and 500, along with a refreshed line of mobile apps that will allow these products to work with today’s crop of Android and iOS mobile devices.

“The game has really changed since we started — now there are smartphones and tablets,” said Jay Tannenbaum, Sling’s marketing VP. Both began shipping Oct. 14 with respective prices of $179 and $299.

The most visible improvement with the 350 and 500 is the ability to deliver full 1080p video to any device that can support the format. The company has also improved the interface needed to operate the boxes, and has simplified installation.

The 350 replaces the external add-on IR blaster with an internal version that will allow a single remote to control all the IR devices in a room, Tannenbaum said.

In addition, Sling has made it easier to share an account. Older models required the owner to send account information to the additional user, but now all that is sent is an email and viewing rights are automatically extended.

The 500 adds Wi-Fi and HDMI support, features requested by customers, said Raghu Tarra, Sling’s senior VP and GM. The 500 connects via HDMI to both the customer’s set-top box and TV, and it has a USB port for attaching an external storage device Also, the system’s initial setup can now be done on the TV screen, eliminating the need to use a PC.

Connecting the Sling Box to a home network will greatly open up possibilities for the device, Tarra said. The 500 will be able to both send and receive content from a home network, and the company is readying several additional features that will be rolled out after launch.

These include Sling Sync, an app that will work in conjunction with an attached external storage device to automatically back up photos and videos from mobile devices.

Sling Projector can take images and videos from a phone or tablet and play a slideshow or video directly on a TV via the Sling Box. This photo portion of the feature will be available at launch with the video feature to follow at a later date.