SLINGBOX - ACCESS YOUR PERSONAL TV PROGRAMS WORLD-WIDE
© 2010 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Ever had the desire to view a program back home while on the road? Well, most of us have, as did two brothers, Blake and Jason Krikorian. While traveling during the 2002 Major League Baseball season, they were forced to miss the best games that year and decided to find a solution. The Slingbox was born, and is now a part of the Echostar/Dish Network family of products.
So, what is the Slingbox you say? Slingbox is a simple box, which connects to virtually any video device such as a DVR (TIVO), DVD player, cable tuner or live camera, and your broadband Internet router. Most models even include a self-contained tuner that may be selected. When operational, Slingbox allows you to access these devices remotely from your laptop, or even from many Smartphones when Sling’s proprietary software is installed.
I tested the “PRO-HD” version. This model easily allows connection between your HD equipment and the Slingbox. While the signal sent via the internet to your laptop may not be full HD, I did notice a distinct increase in overall picture quality using this model. Having also tested a standard model I must admit its picture quality is almost as good. The design of the Slingbox uses a compression method, which constantly optimizes the video signal making it the best streaming I’ve ever seen. Receiving this signal from your home system simply requires a modern day PC, MAC or Smartphone meeting certain specifications as shown on the Sling web site. Since most computers have a “video out” port, it is possible to view your program on a large format display with video inputs. I have an iBook hooked up to a 26” flat screen TV at my condo in Port Argéles, France. Imagine watching live or previously recorded American television in France where normally no English programming is available. The quality is OUTSTANDING!!! Naturally, Sling offers PAL versions permitting Europeans to view their programs while in America. I’ve also tested the PAL version with a British friend who allows me to use his ID code and password to view the BBC and ITV and, yes, pass it thru to my American (NTSC) television set with no additional standards conversion device. In fact, if you have the ID and password to any Slingbox you can watch it no matter where it’s located. The catch is only one viewer can access it at a time. This is not a limitation of the technology, but rather to cover copyright infringement issues. It’s that simple. Once you have the ID code and password for a particular Slingbox, and have the free software downloaded on your computer, you are good to go. The same applies to Smartphones with the exception that the software is not free. My tests with a PALM 700 Smartphone proved equally as good. Perhaps the only difficulty was the screen size when selecting programs from the TIVO menu. An Apple iPhone with its larger display would probably be a better choice.
The Slingbox offers full control of the device you have plugged into it. I use an HD TIVO. The TIVO provides both an HD tuner capable of receiving the full range of cable HD channels when your cable provider supplies a cable card. The TIVO remote appears on the screen when selected and offers all the functions of playback and record found on your home unit. If you can do it at home, you can do it wherever you are.
Slingbox is a neat consumer product lending itself to certain professional applications requiring high quality, long length video streaming. It’s available at leading retailers and on-line at prices starting at an MSRP of $179.95. More details available at: http://www.slingbox.com/ I give it a strong three thumbs up, my highest rating. Slingbox is perhaps the most practical gadget of this past decade.
Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer who may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org , or twitter.com/bskidmore.