In this age of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs galore, there’s little excuse for a company to not keep its customers updated on important issues. But this is what’s happening as I write from the company Sling, makers of the Slingbox (and because they’re being jerks, no link for them!)
What’s a Slingbox? It’s actually a pretty nice device. You hook up a Slingbox to a cable box, Tivo, sat TV tuner, etc. You can then “sling” the video across the internet to Macs, PCs, iOS, and Android devices. It’s not cheap – not only do you need to fork out over $200 for the HD version, but you also have to pay $30 for the player app for your iPhone – and another $30 for the iPad app. At least the web version is free.
So what’s the problem? Apparently, Sling is having some sort of problem with their servers (which you connect via initially to get past firewalls and such to locate your Slingbox). For some reason, this prevents HD video from working properly. So they’ve turned off the option in the iOS apps until they get it fixed. This started over the weekend at some point.
But they only way you’d find this out is via a buried post in the support forums. With a lot of users asking what’s going on, why is this so widespread, Sling finally responded in one of the threads, saying they had temporarily turned of HD while they work on the issue. No mention on their (very active) Twitter account. Nothing on Facebook. And most importantly, nothing on their company support blog. Oh, it’s been updated twice in the past couple of days, telling everyone how they’ve upgraded the web experience. But not a single word about the fact that they turned off a feature that people paid quite a bit for. No mention of for how long, not even a guess. And as of this writing, the web browser and new remote control support updates are the only things appearing there.
Really, Sling? Oh, they’ve had one or two more posts from Sling employees (finally) in the forums, but all they can say is “it’s down, don’t know for how long.” In the meantime, users who didn’t check forums (and many who did) are resetting routers, reinstalling software, and trolling a support blog and knowledge base that says absolutely nothing.
So if you like the idea of a Slingbox, but aren’t thrilled with what passes for “customer service” from the folks at Sling, you might look at a competitor like the Vulkano. I haven’t tried it myself, as my Slingbox is working, but an extended outage like this might get me looking. Sling is rumored to be coming out with some new boxes this month. I’m inclined to advise people to pass for now.