Up until the second half of the 2010s, streaming your live TV from anywhere around the globe was close to impossible. While streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+ have gotten mainstream in the last few years, it was only the Slingbox which provided users with a “Live-TV from anywhere” experience.
For those of you who don’t know, Slingbox is (was?) a TV streaming media device that allowed its users to transmit the content from their TV to computers, smartphones, and tablets via the internet. The technology worked alongside the Slingbox Software which converted the NTSC or PAL video signals to formats that worked on your PC and mobile phones.
As helpful as it was in the early 2000s, it doesn’t make sense to use a Slingbox anymore. That’s because we have a handful of media streaming apps and services that we can subscribe to get on-demand content as well as a slew of other apps that get you live TV within the comfort of your phone or laptop.
Why is Slingbox being discontinued?
On November 9, 2020, Slingbox announced that Slingbox products will be discontinued effective immediately and that its servers will become inoperable on or around November 9th, 2022. What this means is, if you own a Slingbox device, the days are numbered for the once-remarkable piece of tech that made Live-TV-from-anywhere a reality over a decade ago.
On its announcement page, Slingbox has given an explanation as to why it is discontinuing Slingbox products:
We’ve had to make room for new innovative products so that we can continue to serve our customers in the best way possible.
While that is the official explanation, we believe the move is to prioritize the development of its own OTT service – Sling TV. Nearing its 6 years of existence, Sling TV has over 2.255 million subscribers in the US and continues to gain more users because of its support for popular streaming devices, gaming consoles, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Chromecast.
Will there be any new Slingbox devices in the future?
Slingbox has officially confirmed in its announcement FAQ that they will not release a Slingbox device in the future and is also no longer shipping any of their products.
In addition to scrapping their product line, the company also revealed that it is discontinuing some of its apps including:
- SlingPlayer (Free) for Android tablets
- SlingPlayer (Paid) for Android smartphones
- SlingPlayer for Roku
- SlingPlayer for Windows Phone
All the other apps will continue to work as intended and will receive maintenance updates.
Best Slingbox Alternatives in 2020
With Slingbox bidding its users farewell, if you are in the market for an alternative to your existing Slingbox or are looking to buy a new DVR player that you could use to watch Live Tv from anywhere, then you might want to take a look at the following list of Slingbox Alternatives you can buy this year.
Using your Cable/Satellite TV’s own live TV apps
Most Cable TV and Satellite TV services provide set-top receivers that let you watch live TV from anywhere regardless of the device you use to consume content. Ever since smartphones became prevalent for media consumption, TV operators are offering their own mobile apps to satisfy users’ on-the-go needs.
Here are some Cable TV providers and their smartphone apps that you can use to stream content you’re already subscribed to:
|Cable TV Provider||Official Mobile App|
|DIRECTV||DIRECTV (Android | iOS)|
|Dish||DISH Anywhere (Android | iOS)|
|Xfinity||Xfinity Stream (Android | iOS)|
|Spectrum||Spectrum TV (Android | iOS)|
|Frontier||FrontierTV (Android | iOS)|
|Cox||Cox Contour (Android | iOS)|
Using a Plex Media Server to stream content from anywhere
If your cable TV operator doesn’t offer its own streaming app or if you aren’t satisfied with the amount of content that you’re limited with them, then your only nearest alternative is to use the Plex media server. However, setting up a Plex Media Server to stream content isn’t as easy as using a Slingbox device because it requires you to have
- A network server, Mini PC, or spare computer
- Storage hard disk to store and record content
- OTA antenna
You can use an Over-the-Air antenna to grab free HDTV signals from your area and connect it to a Plex server to record movies and shows when they air. There are various OTA antennas available in the market including the HD HomeRun and Mohu ReLeaf. We have explained more about them further down this post under “Other options to replace your Slingbox with” as they can be connected to your TV or set-top box to snatch their signals and relay them for you to other devices.
Once you have found an OTA antenna of your choice, you will need a server that’s connected to your home’s WiFi network all the time. These servers can be anything from network-attached storage to a spare PC that you may have lying around in your house. This server is what connects your TV to your Plex account that you can access from anywhere. After picking a server, you need to get yourself a hard drive to save and store content from your TV.
When you have sorted the things you need for setting up streaming via Plex, you can proceed to prepare your server, connecting it to your home network, create a Plex account, and install the Plex software on devices you’ll be using from. You can follow instructions from this page to set up and manage Live TV & DVR on Plex.
Using a Tablo Network-connected DVRs to browse, record, and stream broadcast TV
If neither of the above solutions works out for you, Tablo offers network-connected Tablo DVRs that connect to users’ home’s router instead of connecting to a TV via an HDMI cable. A Tablo DVR connects your TV’s HDTV antenna to your wireless router so that you can watch your favorite network shows at the time of their airing without switching ON your TV.
After a successful connection between the OTA antenna and your wireless router, you will be able to browse, record, and stream shows and movies from your broadcast TV on more than one smartphone, TV, computer, or set-top boxes. Tablo offers four different Network-Connected Tablo DVRs – Tablo Dual Lite, Tablo Dual, Tablo Quad, and Tablo Quad 1TB.
In order to set up network-connected Tablo OTA DVR, you will require the following devices:
- Over-the-Air HDTV antenna
- Wireless router with an internet connection
- External hard drive to watch and record live TV
You can refer to this guide from Tablo to connect the Tablo DVR to all the devices that need to be connected together. This includes connecting the DVR to the wireless router and then setting it up with the OTA Antenna, adding the external storage to your remote server, entering your location, and searching for channels and stations around you.
Once the Tablo device has been fully set up, you can stream your Live TV onto your smartphones, streaming devices, Smart TVs, or on another computer using the web.
Other options to replace your Slingbox with
If you aren’t still convinced with the alternatives we mentioned above, here are some other options you can switch to when replacing your discontinued Slingbox.
1. TiVo EDGE for cable
If there was a competitor that challenged Slingbox every once in a while and only meant business, it would be Tivo. One good thing about Tivo’s devices is that it gives you full control over the stuff you record on them, making the ability to view live TV as convenient as it could ever be.
The TiVo Edge for Cable which is the company’s latest in the line offers everything that you expect from a DVR solution and then some more. Firstly, the Edge for Cable supports viewing and recording up to six channels simultaneously and with 200GB of inbuilt storage, you can store up to 300 HD hours of live TV for future viewing.
For a cinematic home theater experience, the TiVo Edge for Cable packs in support for Dolby Vision 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos sound. There’s a special “SkipMode” functionality which lets you skip entire commercial breaks with a push of a button. The device is bundled alongside a TiVo VOX Remote which has an OneSearch feature that allows you to search across all your cable TV channels, recorded content, and streaming apps.
Connectivity options include an HDMI port, optical audio output, 2x USB ports, ethernet, and coaxial input. You also get a taste of some stream services with dedicated apps for Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go.
2. Xfinity X1
Comcast’s Xfinity X1 should be a close second option for anyone still looking for a DVR player in this day and age. It’s a powerful device that also doubles up as a utility to control your lights and smart home devices that’s around you. However, the DVR option isn’t as well equipped as the one on Tivo’s offering.
The Xfinity X1 only comes with 500 GB of storage space which the company claims is enough to store up to 60 HD or 300 SD hours of live TV shows and movies. Like the Tivo Edge, the X1 also supports simultaneous recordings of up to 6 channels at once. You get to control live TV playback using the native remote which also offers hands-free voice control.
In addition to streaming apps for Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, NBC Peacock, iHeartRadio, and others, the X1 also comes with different content categories and shows you an assortment of info like sports scores, weather, and news.
3. SiliconDust HDHomeRun Connect Quatro
HDHomeRun’s Connect Quatro is an over-the-air DVR like the two we listed above and is a recommended choice for those of you looking for the widest range of device support. For those of you who own a Windows PC, Mac, tvOS, Sony Android TV, iOS, Android, Playstation, Xbox, Amazon Fire TV device, or Nvidia Shield TV, you can be sure of the fact that you will be able to make the Connect Quatro work on your system.
The device comes with 4 TV tuners that let you watch Live TV on four devices simultaneously. It gives you controls for pause and record and offers a new Slice View that gives you maximum screen real-estate while channel surfing. Multi-device functionality is possible via the HDHomeRun app that you can download on Android, Windows, and Mac.
4. Tablo Quad OTA Digital Video Recorder
Tablo Quad is a DVR box that can convert a single antenna and send the video and audio signals to your TV without even connecting it to an HDMI port. This DVR box connects directly to your antenna and transmits content through a wireless router to smartphones, laptops, smart TVs, streaming devices, and gaming consoles.
You will be able to access major TV networks from ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, and the CW, all for free as well as a bunch of free OTA TV channels. The DVR device not only lets you watch live TV but also pause and record content as long as it’s connected to Wi-Fi or a router.
However, unlike the other devices listed in this post, the Tablo Quad doesn’t offer native storage. Instead, you get expandable storage support of up to 8TB which can be availed by connecting an external hard drive as well as a 2.5-inch internal drive you can plug in. Tablo’s subscription costs $5 per month but you can also opt for a yearly or a lifetime subscription that can be availed for $50 or $150 respectively.
5. Roku Ultra 2020
If you’re finally ready to move on from DVR solutions but haven’t stopped watching Live TV channels, the Roku Ultra 2020 is the next best thing to a DVR box. The Ultra offers the best of both worlds – Live TV channels via Roku Channel service as well as content from major streaming apps and services.
The streaming device offers 4K video resolution, perfect for your new and large Ultra HD smart TVs with support for Dolby Vision and Atmos for HDR playback. The device is bundled with a Roku remote that provides users with voice control and assistance using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
The remote also includes a Playstation-ish 3.5mm headphone jack which you can use to plug in the included JBL earphones for private listening. You get dedicated shortcut buttons for Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and Sling TV in the remote along with two separate programmable shortcut keys that you can set for other programs or apps.
Can any of the solutions replace your Slingbox?
Certainly not. Even after Slingbox’s launch, there haven’t been any other solution that has allowed users to stream content directly from their TV to their smartphone or computer. While there are DVRs and streaming devices that might be able to satisfy most of your media consumption needs, we still don’t have THE perfect alternative for the kind of service and features Slingbox offered.
How do you feel about Slingbox leaving the streaming device business? Are you finally going to let go and upgrade to an OTT streaming device or do you think digital voice recording devices are still relevant?