Edited to add that the Kindle Fire app is now available: Slingplayer (Kindle Fire Edition).
When I first saw an article on Engadget saying that the Slingplayer was coming for the Fire, at first I was intrigued. But that only lasted for about a minute until I looked into it a little more and started to get a bad taste in my mouth. Here's what the device does. The Slingbox is a device that allows you to "watch their favorite television content anywhere." This includes other TV's, phones, and tablets. There's a nice video you can watch that kind of explains what they do HERE, and then you can get more information about them from their website.
Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video, not to mention web-based sites like Youtube, Hulu, and others. I'm sure there are a few people out there who are happy to have a Slingbox, but since this directly broadcasts TV to your device, it comes with commercials and all that other junk that nobody wants to have. This seems like it would've been a great device 5 years ago, but now in the race to bring you your favorite TV shows, the cart has beaten the horse. And that's not even getting into the hardware you have to buy.
There are a couple different models of Slingboxes available. There's the Slingbox Solo for $154.99 (on sale) and the Slingbox PRO-HD for about $300.00. Even a casual glance at the reviews is enough to alarm anybody even thinking about buying one of these things. Numerous reports of hardware failures either after a few days or right before or after the warranty runs out. Shockingly, no matter when the device died, even if it was under warranty, the company Sling Media refused to do anything about it. Non-existent customer service with faulty machines that are both over-priced and seemingly designed to die makes the Slingbox something people should pretty well stay away from.
But wait, there's more! Once you've spent hundreds of dollars on a Slingbox, if you want to actually be able to watch your TV and commercials on your Fire you're going to need to spend another $29 on the Slingplayer app! Head back to that Engadget article and now look at the comments, where you'll find a long list of people complaining that they're being gouged by this company. If you do have a Slingbox, sideload this app if you have it for another device and skip paying the extra $29. At this point it's starting to look like the whole proposition is a complete ripoff.
Let's contrast this with a couple of other pieces of hardware we've featured lately. First there's the Kingston Wi-Drive. Once you've paid for their device, you can get their app for free. Both are inherently supposed to be used with other devices, but one makes that connection for free while the other tries to hit you up for another $29. Then there's something like the Roku Streaming Player, which we talked about on Monday. It is pretty tough to get videos from the internet to play on your TV, and between the cords and the stuff you'd need to make that connection, you're probably paying just as much as you would for a Roku. On the other hand, watching TV on your computer or mobile devices is almost effortless, meaning there's probably no need for this for 99% of people.
All in all, this is something that I would urge people to skip. If there are people out there who use this device and like it, or know something that I don't, I'm happy to have my mind changed. Let's finish up with a few of those other TV-watching apps.