I’ve recently cut the cord, meaning I don’t have cable anymore, and it’s been a serious challenge to find a service that will allow me to watch premium (or premium according to my former cable provider – ugh) channels without paying an arm, a leg and half a liver.
Sling TV – This service provider is actually owned by DISH Network, the satellite TV guys. You can get it as an ‘app’ if you have a TV with a Roku interface. I’m sure there are other ways to get it as well, but I have Roku, so that’s as far as I went. My thoughts on the app itself? Well, given I’ve been a professional in the ever-evolving world of tech for almost thirty (30) years, the interface and ‘feels’ of this service seem to be in its infancy, but the ‘bones’ are pretty solid so they can really expand the functionality of this app A LOT, if they choose to.
- It’s SUPER CHEAP! If you’re used to paying over $100 a month for cable, minus a premium channel like HBO, then you’re going to love Sling TV. It’s about $25 a month and I get the channels I love, like Syfy (This is required so I can get my Killjoys fix!), BBC America, the History Channel, HGTV, etc. If you want HBO, it’s an additional $15, which still brings you in at well below that $100 cable bill.
- It has a guide function that allows me to see what coming up on the channels I want to watch, as well as an On Air tab that allows me to see only what’s on right now.
- Search function is standard and allows you to search for specific shows, as well as channels. I like the channel search because it shows me everything coming up on that channel along with any On Demand programs.
- If you want to rent movies, you can do that as well. While you can opt in to purchase a premium channel, you don’t have to. If you want one movie rather than a whole month of HBO, you have that option.
- Bandwidth choices! This is huge, especially if you have a crappy internet connection, like we do where I live. You can choose the maximum bandwidth that the app is allowed to use, from no limit (best quality) all the way down to .8 Mbps.
- CUSTOMER SERVICE IS AWESOME! These people are super responsive, even on Twitter (@SlingAnswers). There is a real, warm-blooded dedicated staff and they will absolutely talk to you if you need help.
- Where’d the menu go? – When you first sign in, you can add your favorite channels to the My TV area. Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out how to get this menu to reappear so I can add more channels to it. Help says ‘click the Add button’…but there isn’t one, so…yeah.
- Favorites – The fav button doesn’t always show up where you expect it to. As an end user, what this really means is that the buttons for ‘MyTV’ and ‘Favorite’ look too much alike (both have a little heart at the center), so when you think you have one, you really may have the other (searched the Help Center but didn’t see any explanation). If you think you see Fav, and it’s really MyTV, when you click it will take you to the Favorite section under My TV…and since you didn’t actually ‘fav’ your show, of course it isn’t listed.
- For shows that are truly marked as Favs, you sometimes get these weird gray boxes (see screenshot) and multiple iterations of your show. I have no idea why this is. For example, I have two grayed out boxes, one for Killjoys and one for Dark Matter. I also have two listing with the actual Killjoys and Dark Matter graphics. I can’t tell what’s what until I click on them. Turns out, one listing contains the entire series with all the episodes grouped together (you have to actually watch them in order for them to appear, so no DVR capabilities here), the other listing is a single episode. This single episode is also listed with the grouped series, so I have no idea why they’re here at all.
- On Demand is limited, but they are working on adding more shows.
- Occasionally the menus don’t align. For example, I selected a show called PlanetEarth and it had a StarTrek TNG description.
In the end, I selected Sling TV. The product is off to a good start and for what you get, the cost is super affordable. But honestly, what sold me is the amazing customer service! But I’ll tell you about that next time…