DISH Network Sling Adapter TV: A New Way to Cut the Cable?

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The Dish network sling adapter gives us a whole new way to view TV. Thanks to Dish Network you can now get subscription cable television over the Internet without signing up for cable.

Dish Network’s Sling TV service in only $20 a month and provides the channels that us cord cutters have been missing. That low monthly price gives us ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN. Finally a way for the sports fan to truly cut the cable cord without denying themselves their favorite teams…OR at least mostly (more on that later under ‘The Problems’).

Sling TV premiered at Consumer Electronics show with Dish promising to let us ‘Take Back TV’ with no contracts and no commitments. It was released into an invitation only Beta mode in January, but that invitation is pretty to easy to achieve, just sign up on their website. You will get a confirmation email and they will send you an ‘invite’. You then need to send them $20 and the app is yours.

Is the Dish Network Sling Adapter Really that Easy?

Yes and no, Sling TV hasn’t been officially released but the response they have gotten has been overwhelming. Your invitation to the Beta may be a little slow, the Beta mode currently allows them to control and monitor traffic, look for glitches etc., so one would assume that they have ‘rolling’ invites allowing them to gradually increase their traffic.

Availability and Selection

Currently you can get Sling TV on Android, iOS, and Roku. They also have plans to allow access through the web, Amazon Fire TV, Roku streaming stick, Fire TV stick, Xbox One and the Google Nexus player.

Their core package consists of 12 channels ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN and they have promised us additional packages. They also provide you with Video-On-Demand, which is currently a rather meager selection, but is sure to improve as Sling TV takes off.

For an additional $5 a month you can pick up one of their two optional packages;

  • Kids Extra which includes: Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV, and Duck TV
  • News & Info Extra which includes HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV.

Features of the Sling Adapter

Unfortunately there isn’t any particular across-the-board features as they will vary based on what contract Dish currently has with each provider. Some channels will give you a few features such as rewind, others will let you start a program over, and then there are channels that will only let you view the live stream.

The VOD will let you have all the typical viewing features you have come to expect such rewind, pause etc…

Quality

Most Beta users have been reporting that the stream is clean and uninterrupted, but we shall it holds up as traffic increases. The typical stream is averaging around 2.5 Mbps. The video quality is about what you would expect from a Wi-Fi connection, occasionally some scenes are dark or fast moving objects are compressed, but overall it is about the same quality as Netflix, only live. As is frequently the case with streaming you also want to keep the video quality low or it starts to look grainy.

The Problems

Licensing issues are probably the biggest problem with Sling TV. As previously stated Dish’s licensing agreements limit certain functions on some channels, but the biggest bite to some people will be fact that there are also licensing agreements that prevent viewing on certain devices.

One of the biggest complaints I have seen out there was that Pro Bowl could not be viewed on phones. The NFL had apparently signed an exclusive deal that prevented it from being viewed on phones from anyone. Unfortunately Dish could not get around this, you could however view it on your tablet.

I also wonder why they chose to provide packages. As this is strictly over the Internet they could easily make it a ‘choose your own’ type deal. Letting everyone pick from a certain number of channels and then paying extra for anything over that or even make a tier deal, with channels listed on tiers and you get to pick so many from each tier as part of your package.

Is This the Next Thing?

It could be, but before I make the jump and use Dish network sling adapter it needs a lot of improvement.

I have not had cable in several years, we use antenna, Netflix and Vudu to acquire our primary entertainment and we typically stream these over the television for family viewing. Until they make it possible to stream this over the main television it’s not even in the realm of possibilities for my family. I suppose that is you are a TV addict then there are probably a few more channels you want, but I think those will come with time and more channel selection may even be out by the time of the official release.

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