This article originally appeared in The Daily Dot
By Allen Weiner
For the growing number of cord cutters who miss “SportsCenter,” “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” or “Anderson 360,” a new era has begun.
It’s called cloud TV, and the launch of Dish’s Sling TV in a few weeks marks the first widely available monthly un-cable subscription service offering programming traditionally only available through cable or satellite. For $20 a month, the service offers a dozen “cable” channels, plus content from Maker Studios (which is owned by Disney).
Included in the basic service are ESPN, ESPN2, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, TNT, CNN, TBS, and Cartoon Network. There are two additional add-on packs, each costing $5. The Kids Extra includes Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV, and Duck TV, while the News & Info Extra channels include HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY, and Bloomberg. There is also premium video-on-demand programming focusing on recent releases that compares favorably in price and selection with the countless other services that offer similar content.
Also, the service’s portability is a strength, as it is available through almost every connected device, including the Amazon family of Fire TV gizmos, all Roku players, Xbox One, LG and Samsung smart TVs, iOS and Android devices, and Macs and PCs. Perhaps most appealing, Sling TV doesn’t require a long-term commitment and gives users the ability to cancel at any time.
Putting the service through its paces pre-launch, Sling TV appears likely to have no opening-day jitters. On an iPad, two different Roku boxes, and a MacBook Air, the reception was uniformly near flawless. The Roku boxes provided the best experience, showing CNN and ESPN clearly on a 46-inch plasma TV. The on-screen guide is slightly challenging, not always appearing in the same place on different devices, but once you master its quirkiness, you can move from channel to channel and from search to pay-per-view rather easily. The search is decent, but once you get hooked on Amazon Fire TV’s voice-activated search, anything short of that is disappointing. There is no DVR function, but past programs are available through search. (It took me a while to figure that out, as it’s not apparent until you start searching for your favorite shows.)
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