Your Slingbox Will Be A Useless Brick In A Few Years

from the you-don't-own-what-you-buy dept

Remember the Slingbox? It was a piece of hardware by Dish subsidiary Sling Media that let users beam TV content from your home cable box to anywhere else. Sling was public enemy number one among entrenched cable and broadcast industry gatekeepers, because its products (*gasp*) not only made life easier on consumers, but at one point integrated ad-skipping technology. Back in 2013 the broadcast and cable industry was so pissed at Sling, it managed to get a best-of-show CES award retracted by CNET and CBS simply because the industry didn't like the disruptive nature of the company's technologies. Ah, memories.

This week, Sling Media announced that all Slingboxes will effectively become useless paperweights in a few years. In a company announcement, it says the technology will no longer work at all as of November 9, 2022:

"Slingbox servers will be permanently taken offline 24 months after the discontinued announcement date (November 9, 2020), at which point ALL Slingbox devices and services will become inoperable.

Until then, most Slingbox models will continue to work normally, but the number of supported devices for viewing will steadily decrease as versions of the SlingPlayer apps become outdated and/or lose compatibility.

The shift isn't particularly surprising given that the streaming era has effectively made such technology irrelevant. Users can now obtain streams of numerous apps on any platform they like. And software like Plex similarly let users stream content from their home PC anywhere they have a reliable internet connection. Streaming from your home cable box isn't as popular because people are not only cutting the cord at a record pace, they're shifting to streaming platforms that are inherently more flexible. Evolution made Sling irrelevant. The company kind of explains this all to users, but not really:

Q: Why is Slingbox being discontinued?

A: We’ve had to make room for new innovative products so that we can continue to serve our customers in the best way possible.

Q: Will Slingbox be releasing any new products?

A: No.

At the same time, it's yet another example of how in the modern era, you simply don't really own the things you buy. Firmware updates can often eliminate functionality promised to you at launch, as we saw with the Sony PlayStation 3. And with everything now relying on internet-connectivity, companies can often give up on supporting devices entirely, often leaving users with very expensive paperweights as we saw after Google acquired Revolv, then bricked users' $300 smart home hub. Now it's the Slingbox's turn to head to that great gadget graveyard in the sky.

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Filed Under: brick, end of life, ownership, slingbox, streaming, tv
Companies: sling media


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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Nov 2020 @ 6:52am

    And someone will made one that runs on a Raspberry Pi with an open architecture & the industry will flip out again.


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