Back at the start of January this year, Dish announced a new product—Sling TV. Their aim was to give cord cutters (or would-be cord cutters) an option to have live TV channels without having to subscribe to a traditional TV package through their cable or satellite provider.
To get the main feeling of this article out of the way right at the start, let me just say that Sling TV is a very good first foray into internet live TV. There are downsides, which I will go into detail about below.
Let’s get the basics out of the way; Sling TV is $20 per month and gives you access to 15 channels (at this time, more are planned for the future). There are also additional packages you can purchase to get some extra channels in specific categories. The image below shows all currently available packages.
The channels are streamed in HD, and they look just as good as you are likely used to with streaming HD content from Netflix and Amazon, etc. That is, the quality is good, but for people who are picky, it’s not quite on the level of OTA HD or Satellite HD.
Here’s a downside—no 5.1 surround sound. From what I have been able to gather, it does seem like this feature is planned for the future, but at this time you’ll have to deal with standard stereo audio.
You can pause and rewind live TV, as well as view previous episodes from a few days in the past, on demand style. Fast-forwarding is also a feature, though it doesn’t seem to work as smoothly as I’ve become used to with other streaming services.
Sling TV launched with pretty good device support so chances are that you have a device (or several) that can use it.
Click the image below to see current and future device support.
Notable omissions include Chromecast and Apple TV. One can probably assume that an Apple TV app will be made available in the future. Since all of the available support relies on native applications on each platform, Chromecast support is a little more suspect, but I would put my money on it being made available sometime in the future as well.
Your subscription entitles you to stream from one device at a time, even if multiple devices are on the same network. At this time there are no options to increase that limit. If you need more than one stream at a time, you’ll have to get another account.
The software, on all tested platforms (Roku, Fire TV Stick, Windows 8, OSX Yosemite), runs relatively well. The Roku 2 and Fire TV Stick can be somewhat laggy, but nothing like traditional cable/satellite boxes.
When you have a channel highlighted, the timeline below shows past, current, and future shows. You can click “up” from the channel menu to see the shows listed in an “on demand” style (pictured on the left), which allows you to select your desired show and choose from available episodes.
My opinion is that the software has some improvements to make as far as performance goes, but it’s definitely serviceable and, for the most part, not too frustrating.
Is it worth it?
So the big question; is Sling TV worth it as it currently stands?
This is obviously a question that will vary from person to person. I think that I can confidently say that for people who really need/want ESPN and don’t currently have it, Sling TV is a good deal.
I personally would have loved an option for, say, $15 that didn’t include ESPN, as that is not a channel that I have interest in.
For me, the channels that I value are: HGTV, Travel Channel, Food Network, Adult Swim, CNN, TNT, and TBS, with the first three listed channels being my favorites of the bunch. I took advantage of the three month deal that includes a free Fire TV Stick. I am a little less than one month into that subscription and am leaning towards keeping the service after the three months end, though I’m still not completely convinced yet.
It’s very nice having something to just throw up for some background noise again. I just need more time to decide if the value is worth it for me and my SO at this time.
At the very least, I got a Fire TV Stick out of the deal. Sling is running this promotion for several more months, so if you want to take advantage of it as well, follow the link at the top of this post or the one below.
Anything I missed or any thoughts? Leave a comment!
Get an Amazon Fire TV stick for free, or $50 off a Amazon Fire TV when signing up for 3 months of Sling TV