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First look at Sling.com online video portal

Sling.com
Online video portal Sling.com is set to open to the public on November 24th. It's currently in private beta, but we got an early peek at the service. The online video player is easy to use, and there's plenty of content from a number of major US television networks as well as ton of videos from web sites like College Humor and 60frames.

While the selection of videos is pretty extensive, that's not really what makes Sling.com special. In fact, the content library looks pretty much like what you can already find at Hulu. That makes sense, since many of the TV episodes and full length videos are coming straight from Hulu.

What makes Sling.com unlike any other online video site is the way it works with the company's Slingbox hardware. If you have a Slingbox plugged into your TV set, cable or satellite box, or TiVo, you can use Sling.com to watch live video over the web. Sling Media has offered the ability to stream video over the internet since the company's inception. But Sling.com allows you to access live, pre-recorded, and web video all in one central location.

If you have a Slingbox, there's plenty of reason to choose Sling.com over Hulu. If not, the case isn't quite as compelling at the moment. Eventually Sling Media plans to roll out social tools that let users do things like record clips of TV shows and movies using a Slingbox and share them with other users at Sling.com. But that feature isn't available yet.

You can watch Sling.com's web videos in pretty much any browser. But if you want to watch live TV, you'll need to be running Windows and using Firefox or Internet Explorer. Mac support is coming soon. I also noticed a glitch during my test that caused Firefox to crash every time I switched from watching a live program to watching web video, and then back to live video again. Hopefully that issue will be worked out by the time Sling emerges from private beta later this month.

Tags: hulu, placeshifting, sling, sling-media, sling.com, slingbox, web-video

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