Friday, May 22, 2015

SlingTV Provides More Reasonably Priced Options for Cutting the Cord

One important factor I had to take into consideration when I cut the cord from my cable company was the kids.  Kids have specific needs when it comes to programming, which is strange because so do I but apparently my vote does not count as much.  That aside, Disney Channel was a must, and while Netflix and Hulu Plus offer a limited means of streaming some shows, they were not quite the answer I was looking for.

So like many I started taking a close look at SlingTV.  The streaming service offers live feeds of Disney Channel, History, H2, ESPN, ESPN2, HGTV, A&E, AMC, TBS, TNT, and more (a total of twenty feeds) for the price of $20 per month.  Compared to the average cable bill, and the fact that none of those stations are available via antenna, the price is actually pretty good.

In short, I became a SlingTV customer.  The first thing any cord cutter knows is that getting content from the internet to the television can be a bit of a trick.  Sling is available on a number of devices, including XBOX One, Fire TV, and Roku players, but on the desktop, Android, and iOS devices the streaming service runs as an app.  That means no opening a window and running it via the web (read: if you can’t install the app you can not watch so toss out any ideas about streaming marathon sessions at work).  I use an HDMI cord from the laptop to television to avoid more hardware.

The other main drawback with Sling is that it is a single use type of deal.  That means if one person in the house is streaming Disney Channel on the living room TV nobody else can stream TBS to their tablet or laptop.  Want to stream two at a time? Go ahead, but you need to purchase another subscription, which kind of diminishes the value.

SlingTV has plenty of entertainment options.  However, the service is not perfect.  Disney Channel tends to freeze up and drop out for no apparent reason.  While rebooting the app usually solves the problem, the whole point of paying to stream content is lost when you can not have a seamless experience.  Strangely enough, Disney seems to be the only channel with that issue.  Odd, but TNT, TBS, and even ESPN are all okay, same for History and HGTV.

The real limitation for me is the laptop battery, but unless I’m watching a “Pawn Stars,” “Storage Wars,” or “Property Brothers” marathon it is less of a problem.  I just have to be conscious of plugging the computer in, no big deal but worth a mention because kids love to plug in and charge their electronics [sarcasm].

For the most part though SlingTV does what it was meant to do: serve as a viable way to add entertainment options to television without relying on a more expensive cable package.  Is it all inclusive? No, there are still issues with a few shows that can not be streamed because the channel does not own the streaming rights.  However, I have not missed those shows and truly would have to Google them because I don’t remember what they were.

Sling offers a few extra packages as well.  For another five dollars you can purchase an upgrade for kids or a news channel, and for an extra $15 you can get HBO.  That’s right, HBO without satellite or cable.  Awesome, but I don’t use any of the upgrades, yet.  I’m hoping the service adds a few more channels as networks try to find a way to reach more people without haggling with cable companies.  You never know, it could happen.

I like Sling and the services it provides, and added in with Netflix, Hulu, and network websites, it presents some volume in the streaming options.  Think about it, how many channels do you actually watch?  For me, the answer was simple, and surprisingly the kids have not complained one bit, because they still have options as well.

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