SLINGBOX ~ Watching Home TV On Your Internet Connected MAC, PC, Tablet or Smartphone…
© 2014 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
These days, watching home TV on your MAC, PC, tablet or smartphone is nothing new. Many cable providers offer an app that turns many devices into a portable TV while you’re at home. Certain specific programming apps are available, ie: HBO, to remotely watch that channel only. The trick is, being able to watch all your home TV channels at any time and from anywhere in the world, when you have Internet access.
Sling Media has been supplying streaming boxes since 2004. In 2007, EchoStar purchased the company and since then we’ve seen many major improvements. At first glance, size is the most noticeable. The new Slingbox 350, the one we tested, is about half the size of the original model. Compression technology has been greatly improved allowing for slower Internet speeds while still maintaining a stable, clear image. A broader selection of viewing devices is now also supported. Installation is relatively fast and simple. I’ll share a few tips about that later which will help with this process.
The Slingbox 350 is the standard model and features 1080p high definition quality. It connects to your TIVO, DVR, cable set-top box or satellite receiver via component or composite sources. It does require a hard-wired Internet connection since it has no wi-fi feature. The Slingbox 500 offers all the same features and capabilities, but does also include, built-in wi-fi, IR blasters, as well as a host of additional streaming options. No tuner is supplied with either model. Your TIVO, DVR or cable box acts as your tuner.
(TIP: D-Link, one of several companies with connection solutions, offers a series of “POWERLINE” products that expand your wired network by utilizing your electrical house wiring in place of running an Ethernet CAT 5 cable from your router to the Slingbox. Simply plug one of two modules into a wall outlet next to your router and the other near your Slingbox. http://bit.ly/1iVE8vu Netgear offers wireless Eithernet bridges that use your wi-fi signal to convert back to a hardwired connection. http://bit.ly/1onHU5R A short CAT 5 cable at each end connects from the Powerline or the bridge module to the Slingbox and to the router. Your Internet connection is now made. Note: There could be a speed reduction using this type of device, so a bit more buffering may take place. This type of device may also be used for other Internet dependent gadgets when wi-fi is unavailable. http://bit.ly/1iVE8vu)
On the receiving end, the Slingbox supports most Mac’s, PC’s, Smartphones and tablets. A computer is required for the initial setup. Software for viewing on a computer is free, however on a MAC you must have OS 10.8 or 9, with Safari 6+, Firefox 25+ or Chrome 30+ as your browser. On a PC, Windows 7 or Windows 8 (Desktop mode), with IE 10+, Firefox 25+, or Chrome 30+ as your browser. Some of the published data may say otherwise, but my tests support these requirements. To access the Sling on a Smartphone or tablet you must purchase an app for a one-time fee of $14.99. No app or fee is required when using a computer.
Cable hookup to the Slingbox is easy with the supplied cables. Simply plug in the component video and the audio cables from the output of your TIVO, DVR, cable box or satellite receiver to the corresponding color-coded IN jacks of the Slingbox. Connect the Ethernet and IR emitter cable along with the power cable and you should soon see the power and Internet light lit, (upper front left), indicating all connections are active.
(TIP: The light under the horseshoe only lights up when someone is accessing your Slingbox on line.)
At this stage it is advisable to depress the RESET button, (right rear of the Sling’s power plug), for about 20 seconds. This step is missing in the instructions, but was advised as an important part of the setup process, by Tech Support. Tech support is excellent and available by live chat, numerous on-line tutorials or by phone where the agent, with your permission, can access your computer to aid in the installation should that become necessary.
The Slingbox is a great device that works exceptionally well. It does allow you to access your home’s live cable programming, recorded TIVO programs, or, to schedule programs to be recorded, and all with no monthly fees. A menu option allows you to access the remote for the source device. All functions that are on that remote are controllable. I have tested Slingbox on many devices both domestically and around the world and it works well. Slingbox boxes are available in many countries and they incorporate the TV standards of that country and are voltage compatible, however, no mater what country a Slingbox is located in you have viewing access on your Internet capable devices. Hookup from these viewing devices to your flat screen TV is usually possible with the use of third party cables. Slingbox is a great device for maximizing the use of your home television system when you’re on the go.
GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★
MSRP: Sling 350 $179.95 ~ Sling 500 $299.99 ~ Netgear N300 bridge $44.99 ~ D-Link PowerLine AV500 $59.99
For more information go to: http://bit.ly/1ixeEHm
Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.