EchoStar subsidiary Sling Media announced Wednesday that the SlingCatcher, a set-top box that facilitates watching Web video on the living-room TV, is now available for immediate purchase and delivery from online retailers, including Amazon.com and Buy.com, and brick-and-mortar outlets such as Best Buy, Fry's Electronics, Microcenter and J&R.
The SlingCatcher, which was unveiled in 2007 and demonstrated at the CES show in Las Vegas last January, is a $299 media-extender device that reformats Web video and other digital-video formats for display on conventional TVs using Sling's proprietary "SlingProjector" software. It has an Ethernet jack to connect to a home network and access the Internet, and both standard-definition and high-definition outputs to connect to a TV, including HDMI, component video, S-Video and composite video, as well as both analog and digital audio connectors.
The device also has two USB ports that allows consumers to play back media stored on a USB hard or flash drive, including home movies, personal videos and Internet video downloads, through a software application called "My Media."
The SlingProjector software lets a user select a specific video playing within a Web site or media player and "projects," or outputs, just the video, and not the entire PC screen, to make for a more TV-like experience. It can handle a variety of media formats, including WMV, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264 and Xvid as well as a number of file formats including .avi, .vob, .ifo, .mpg, .mov, and .wma.
Sling says it is also developing a conversion utility called SlingSync that will convert incompatible files into a format that can be played back on the TV via SlingCatcher.
The SlingCatcher, which comes with a remote control, can also use the home network to connect to a consumer's existing Slingbox "placeshifting device," allowing them to access and control any device connected to a Slingbox, such as a DVR or cable or satellite set-top box, even if that Slingbox is in a remote location.
"Customers have been waiting with anticipation for this product since we announced it, and I'm very pleased to say to them that the SlingCatcher has arrived," said Blake Krikorian, co-founder and CEO of Sling Media, Inc., in a statement. "Thousands of video programs are available for viewing online for free, but until now there hasn't been an easy way to watch them on a screen larger than your laptop computer. In addition, SlingCatcher will give Slingbox customers the ability to watch their home TV on another TV, something they have been asking for since we first introduced the original Slingbox in 2005."