By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
May 13, 2009

TV didn’t come quickly — or cheaply — to the iPhone and iPod touch.

Four months after Echostar’s (SATS) Sling Media demoed an application at Macworld 2009 that allowed Apple’s (AAPL) handheld mobile devices to pick up programming transmitted by a Slingbox, the long-awaited SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone went live overnight on the App Store. Price: $29.99.

Slingbox, for those who haven’t yet parted ways with their conventional TV sets, is a wireless streaming device that takes the signal from a cable, satellite or video recorder and puts it on the Internet, where it can be displayed by a computer with a broadband connection and a password unique to that particular box.

Sling players have been available for some time for a variety of mobile devices — including those running Nokia’s (NOK) Symbian, Research in Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry OS, Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Mobile and Palm (PALM) OS.

Now it’s available for the iPhone as well.

We downloaded a copy Wednesday morning and after some unpleasantness locating a 32-digit identification number we didn’t know we had, we found that it worked as advertised — at least over our Airport network.

Citing concerns about network congestion, AT&T (T) has restricted Slingbox use to Wi-Fi (see Engadget for the carrier’s official statement). But early reports suggest that jailbroken iPhones may be able to pick up a signal over 3G and EDGE as well.

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