This brief “review” is for the Sling TV service which I am accessing on my Google Nexus Player. I haven’t tried the desktop, iOS, or Android versions of this service, so keep that in mind when reading this review. The way the navigation works may differ depending on the hardware used.
If you’re a Nexus Player owner and you’re having trouble using the Sling app available in the Google Play store, you’ll have to download this older version of the Sling apk. Dish Network updated the Sling app for some reason and it blocked access via the Nexus Player. I am using the Sling app version linked above on my Nexus Player and it works great.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the service itself.
Loading the Sling app (which you will need to do via the Sideload Launcher on your Nexus Player) brings you to the main page of the Sling app and auto loads whichever channel you were watching last. It says “Buffering” for a few seconds before the channel actually loads and begins playing. Depending on the speed of your connection, you may see a low bitrate stream followed by a higher quality stream once it adjusts. This is normal behavior on Netflix so it’s of no surprise here. Beneath and in front of the image is a horizontal menu where you can see what’s on each channel right now, as seen below.
If you would rather see what’s on each channel in the future, you can also scroll over to the channel logos where the horizontal menu at the bottom changes to show you what’s coming up, which you can see below.
Certain channels also allow you to go back in time! How far back you can go–or if you can go back at all–depends on the channel. I don’t think you can go back at all on the ESPN channels due to rights reasons. Other channels let you go back a few hours, some let you go back days.
Those who are transitioning over to Sling from a cable or satellite subscription will likely find the interface a little confusing, perhaps cumbersome. The lack of true DVR features will also be noticeably absent to them. Waiting five seconds for each channel will load will seem like minutes to someone who’s accustomed to instant channel changing from a traditional television service. But as someone who’s used to services like Netflix and Hulu, these “issues” won’t be much of a surprise and you’ll get comfortable with the service rather quickly.
One feature I didn’t notice or haven’t uncovered quite yet is search. It would be nice if you could type in the name of a show and have it list any past episodes that are available to watch.
As for the overall image quality, I’d say it’s not up to par with a real cable/satellite sub, but it’s pretty close. It definitely does look like streaming internet video, but that’s not to say it’s bad quality. It’s just not the best. I have a 50mbps connection, so it’s not like I can’t handle a high bandwidth stream. By comparison, UFC events streamed live look like watching an actual HDTV broadcast while Sling leaves a little to be desired.
So will I keep Sling TV? I’m not sure. The novelty of having live, legal access to TV shows on the device I use daily is certainly appealing. But will I end up going back to the other apps and streaming services I’m already using in favor of Sling? I’ll try it for a week and let you guys know.