- Great DVR feature
- Can be inexpensive
- Good variety of packages for different channels
- Search features are not great
- Customization options are limited
- The user interface is not friendly
Compared to cable subscription packages, Sling TV provides users with a ton of live cable channels at a fraction of the cost.
However, they do need to work on improving their user interface.
Sling TV Review
History is going to remember Sling TV as the first streaming service that had the courage to compete with cable subscription packages.
They’ve found a lot of success in providing a viable alternative to cable TV, which used to be the only way to get the content you wanted.
However, just because Sling TV was the first, doesn’t mean that they’re the best. Specifically, there are some problems with their user interface.
Aside from these issues, which we’ll discuss later, Sling TV has a lot of quality features as well. For instance, their DVR features are rapidly developing and they could, on their own, attract users to the service in the near future.
Additionally, even with only the channels included in the basic package, Sling TV can provide with a good amount of entertainment for a relatively low amount of money.
While Sling TV has dedicated significant resources to improving the user interface across all platforms, there are still significant issues with it. First of all, we think that the black and gray menus are too utilitarian.
The yellow accents add some color to the interface, but the overall look is a bit unimaginative.
As for actually using the service, users should be able to easily find the content they want. However, it may take some time to do so as the search features are somewhat slow.
Once you launch Sling TV you should see the rather eclectic options bar. It has the following options available to choose from:
- My TV
- On Now
The DVR option contains your recordings while the My TV category displays the user’s favorite channels.
All the options are pretty easy to understand from their names, but the overall selection feels slightly arbitrary. Sling TV isolates categories such as Movies and Sports, but it would seem to make more sense to have more specific content categories.
For example, Hulu separates its content into categories such as Dark Comedy Movies and Science Fiction series. Sling TV could use this convention to make it easier to find the content their users are looking for.
Depending on the user’s platform, the My TV section will allow them to access their favorite premium channels quickly. However, it doesn’t let the user know what’s playing on these channels.
This makes the My TV section pretty useless unless you happen to enjoy every piece of content that exists on a specific channel.
Sling TV has polished their official Roku app quite a bit. It now features options like DVR and Guide.
However, on other platforms, Sling TV apps are not as user-friendly. The imprecise nature of the Sling TV Xbox One app can make a task as simple as entering a password fairly difficult. As far as the PC version goes, it’s unpolished to say the least.
If you’re watching TV and want to go back to Sling TV’s main menu, it’s difficult to return to the program you were watching. You will either have to go back to the content manually or leave the program unpaused in the background.
Another important thing to note is that the PC version of the app is not a web browser client—it’s a Windows Store app. Hence, it has limited utility and compatibility.
Just for clarity’s sake, there is little about the Sling TV user interface which is genuinely troublesome enough to compromise the user’s overall streaming experience. It’s just that it will take some time to learn how to navigate, and it could use an update to make the design more sleek and user-friendly.
Currently, Sling TV supports the following platforms:
- Streaming boxes
- Smart TVs
- Xbox One
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Amazon Fire TV
- Mac OS
There are no apps for web browsers or PlayStation 4.
Price and Content
Sling TV doesn’t just excel when it comes to the sheer variety of high-quality content. It also excels in how it goes about selling the available content.
For example, it doesn’t ask users to purchase an expensive package which has a ton of channels they’ll user never watch. Instead, it offers two options and then allows the user to build on top of these two basic options.
The first option is Sling Orange, which costs $25 per month and offers 33 channels. Sling Orange, for all practical purposes, is a single-stream online service.
Then there’s Sling Blue, a multi-stream online service where you can watch up to three simultaneous streams at once. The subscription costs $25 each month, for which you get access to 48 channels.
A full list of the channels available with these plans can be found at Sling TV’s website.
Do keep in mind that there is some channel overlap between Sling Orange and Sling Blue. If you want both services at once, then you will have to pay $40 per month.
Generally speaking, Sling TV is a complete and comprehensive cable-replacement online service.
The two Blue and Orange packages offer users mainstream high-quality channels, which include:
- Nick Jr.
- The Food Network
- Comedy Central
- BBC America
With Blue, users have access to some local stations as well such as NBC and Fox. The availability of these channels depends on your location. If your favorite channels are not included with Sling Blue or Sling Orange, there are additional packages available. These can cost anywhere between $5 and $15 per month.
Once you buy these add-ons, you can have even more access to movies, children’s programming, sports and foreign language television.
There are a few cable subscription services that offer Spanish packages, but none of them can compete with Sling TV. Sling TV offers channels in the following languages:
There are also add-ons available for premium channels like Cinemax, HBO and Starz.
Sling TV’s biggest weakness is its ability to direct users to on-demand content. There’s no easy way to access on-demand content if you’re not on the right platform.
Assuming you’re on the right platform, you should be able to easily find some on-demand movies. However, the search function for Sling TV does not include a good portion of the on-demand content, which makes it difficult to find much of the content.
Channels that can be found on Sling TV like SyFy, Starz and FX have large collections of movies and TV shows available, but they are difficult to find on Sling TV.
If you don’t take the time to dig into each given channel’s extensive menu, you’ll never know the extent of on-demand content that Sling TV offers.
Sling TV has to offer better search and browsing capabilities if they want people to enjoy their rather large content library.
If you’re willing to pay an extra $5 each month you’ll get access to around 100 hours of high-quality DVR storage with Sling TV. They’ve recently pushed this feature out of beta and into full release.
This feature is straightforward and easy to use. When you come across content you want to watch later, simply press Record and it will be available to watch at your convenience.
If you ask it to record a movie that’s available on-demand, Sling TV will let you know so that you don’t use part of your DVR storage on a movie that’s available on-demand.
When a user records an episode of a TV show, Sling TV will prompt the user on whether or not they want to record all the other episodes of the given series, only the current episode or only new episodes.
It’s possible that 100 hours may not be enough if you watch a lot of TV and movies. You can manage your space by letting Sling TV push out your older recordings to make room for new content. There is also a feature that will keep certain movies and TV show recordings from being deleted from your DVR if you want to keep them.
The DVR feature allows Sling TV to be a viable competitor against cable and satellite television services, as well as other streaming platforms. It has been very well implemented as it’s easy to use and offers a large amount of storage for a fairly low cost.
Sling TV allows users to specify bandwidth limitations via the settings menu.
However, there is no way for the user to gauge the video quality of any content stream. Most cable channels tend to broadcast at 720p and movies tend to be 1080p, but there’s no way to know for sure with Sling TV.
Some of the channels should automatically stabilize at HD resolutions if you have a fast enough internet connection. Others may start at a lower quality level and then improve once they’ve loaded enough data.
Expect your content to jump from 480p and 720p without notification. This usually takes a minute or less after starting the show or movie.
If you try to fast-forward more than 30 seconds while you’re streaming on-demand TV or movies, then you’ll often be met with lower quality streaming for a minute or so until the content loads fully.
According to Sling TV, users who have a 3 Mbps connection can stream all of the service’s content at the best quality available.
If Sling TV wants to stay competitive, they’ll need to introduce a measure which would allow people to measure buffering times and video quality. This would give users a better idea of when they can start playing a show or movie if they want to watch in HD for as long as possible.
The only other streaming service that offers such features is YouTube TV, so this would be an opportunity for Sling TV to set themselves apart.
The availability of content is always the most important thing to consider with streaming services, and Sling TV offers their content in spades.
A cable or satellite subscription could easily be replaced with Sling TV given the broad range of content available. Most of the top channels are available with Sling TV and the cost is significantly less than the average cable or satellite package.
Casual users should find Sling TV to be an economical option when compared to cable subscriptions and even other streaming services.
The content is available in several languages that are typically not found with traditional cable and satellite subscriptions.
With its long list of compatible devices, there’s a strong chance that one of the devices you already own is perfect for streaming Sling TV.
With that said, we also have to mention that Sling TV lags behind almost all of their competitors in the user interface department.
They also need to work hard on their on-demand features in order to allow users to actually access most of the on-demand content.
These issues can hardly be considered deal breakers given the positive aspects of Sling TV.
However, consider the fact that Sling TV’s competitors, like Hulu with Live TV and PlayStation Vue, are far ahead in handling on-demand content and offering comprehensive search functions.
Sling TV offers all new users a free trial so you can try it for yourself to make sure that the user interface issues aren’t unbearable. Over time, it’s likely that Sling TV will improve their user interface and their search functions as they gain more popularity in the market. If you’re looking to become a cord cutter, Sling TV is definitely worth trying.