Ready to cut the cord on cable TV and try a streaming-only service? One of the best options is Sling TV, and it’s also one of the most reasonably priced too. Let’s have a look!
Cable TV has been the gold standard for streaming television for decades now. Problem is, with its reliance on a cable box and specific hardware, it’s also limited to being viewed on your television set, which makes it of limited value for most people with their mobile lifestyles and various devices and gadgets. Sure some cable services like Xfinity, Time Warner and Charter are adding Internet-based alternatives for people who want to use their computers, tablets or smartphones, but those are limited to subscribers who also pay for cable service itself.
What if you don’t want any cable service? You want to “cut the cord” and just have a streaming service? Sling TV fits into that category and with its iOS and Android apps coupled with Mac and Windows applications, it lets you watch your favorite TV shows, channels and some limited movies anywhere you have a good Internet connection. We previously looked at DirecTV Now too, if you’re curious how they compare.
Sling TV is really easy. On the iPhone, for example a single tap launches the app:
And after a few seconds it’ll start showing the last channel you watched, including showing you what program is on. In my case, the last channel I watched was Turner Classic Movies:
A tap on the three horizontal lines on the left and I can get to a Guide view, which makes it easy to slide along and see what’s playing and what’s coming next on any of the various supported channels. On the El Rey network, for example, there are some movies coming up that are worth watching!
Look closely and you can see a magnifying glass icon on the top right too. That’s the search feature and it’s one of the best parts of Sling TV because it finds current and future movies and even gets you to the on-demand section.
I’ll do a quick search for my favorite film director, Alfred Hitchcock:
Vertigo? A brilliant movie. How can I resist?
A single tap and I’m watching Barbara Bel Geddes as Midge Wood in a scene from the beginning of the film. It’s crisp, bright and streams without a glitch or flaw:
Where Sling TV really shines is on devices with bigger screens.
The experience with the Sling TV app on the Mac is significantly better. Here’s the On Now guide, for example:
At least one thing worth watching on the list, but I’m not going to say what it is (Family Guy). Oh, wait, I did, didn’t I? 🙂
While I like a lot about the Sling TV experience, the program guide is a bit of a mess in my opinion. It definitely takes some getting used to if you’re more used to a simple spreadsheet grid of time versus channel.
Here’s the Mac version, a bit more detailed than the iPhone / Android interface, but still extremely hard to get an overview from:
Check out the lower row of “Available Now” too: those are movies you can watch on demand, including some great choices (in my view, at least). Who doesn’t enjoy Annie Hall or The Battle of Midway? 🙂
There are lots of sports channels and foreign language channels too. You can see the whole Sling TV lineup here, it’s broken down into Orange and Blue channel lineups.
Meanwhile, back on TCM…
Now, to be fair, the program guide isn’t the only thing that I think Sling TV can improve. There’s no DVR capability if you want to record a program to watch later (though rumor has it that certain Roku Sling TV subscribers are beta testing a DVR), and as you can see, there are a decent selection of channels depending on package (certainly Sling Orange with its 30+ channels covers most of my viewing), but there still aren’t local broadcast TV or any network television networks at all. If you want NBC, ABC, CBS or Fox, you’re on your own, other than in some select markets. Check their help pages for more details if you’re eager for locals.
But it took decades for cable TV to master channel packaging and selection and we’re early yet in the streaming TV world, so I’m still going to recommend Sling TV as a good choice for streaming that’s easy and affordable. Check it out, see what you think!
Disclaimer: Sling TV gave us a “Blue” channel lineup account so we could write about the service.