We can practically hear the collective sigh of relief among Slingbox owners now that Sling's finally just about ready to push out a version of SlingPlayer Mobile for Android -- by far the biggest hole in the company's lineup of mobile players ever since the iPhone version went live. This is no mere port, though; the company is boasting that it worked hard here to reduce load times, meaning the total wait you've got from app load to the time you're actually seeing General Hospital should be less than you're accustomed to, and that's a big win in our book. Check out our quick impressions (and video) after the break!



Though we didn't have another SlingPlayer-equipped device to compare, past experience suggests to us that Sling wasn't lying -- load times are, in fact, lower here than we're used to. That's especially true over WiFi, where it took as little as 1.5 seconds (give or take a tenth) from launch to live video (assuming you'd already entered your login information, of course). We found this version's remote interface to be totally usable -- it's got its own unique feel, just like every other SlingPlayer flavor out there -- but we were disappointed to find no obvious way to create favorite channels. In fact, beyond using the remote and changing aspect ratio and Slingbox input, there's no other functionality whatsoever.

The beta was also quite unstable on our Froyo-equipped Nexus One. Basically, we had to go into app management and press Force Stop after each time we ran SlingPlayer; pressing Home while watching TV was a particularly easy way to damn it to crashdom, but even pressing Disconnect first from within the app didn't seem to work very reliably. We also had to re-sign in to the box on several occasions, though we weren't able to figure out what was triggering that behavior. All told, we're hoping it gets considerably more stable before it goes to general release -- but the speed is promising, and hey, at this point, Android users just need some sort of option for placeshifting.