LAS VEGAS – The maker of Slingbox, a device that lets people watch their home television on laptops away from home, now plans to reverse that flow and bring Web video to television sets.
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The SlingCatcher will be available in the middle of the year. The price has not been set but will be under $200, said Blake Krikorian, co-founder and CEO of the San Mateo, Calif.-based company.
The new set-top box, which will echo the trapezoidal shapes of its Slingbox cousins, will send multimedia content of any format from the Web to a TV, whether it's a slideshow from a photo-sharing site, clips from a video sharing site, or films downloaded from an online movie service.
The device hooks up to a TV and must be linked with a home computer network. It works with the free SlingPlayer media software that has to be installed on a laptop or desktop computer to help convert digital media formats into video and audio playable on televisions.
"It's your full-blown Web experience on your TV," Krikorian said.
But one drawback of the technology — at least with its initial product debut — will be that users would have to control what they're watching on the big screen through the computer and not the TV.
As more people turn to the Web for entertainment, more electronics makers, including Apple Computer Inc. and Netgear Inc. are looking to offer similar products that can act as a bridge between PCs and TVs.
Netgear's new Digital Entertainer HD, also unveiled at the Las Vegas trade show, can take high-definition movies, television shows or songs that are stored on a home network and stream the content to a home entertainment center.
Sling Media said it will introduce later this year an update to its SlingPlayer software so owners of a Slingbox would be able to wirelessly deliver their cable, digital video recorder or satellite TV content onto any other television in the home that is hooked to a SlingCatcher.