Beyond TV, SlingBox's auxilliary inputs and infrared dongles allow it to be hooked up and to control two other video sources - one on a composite-video connection, the other on s-video. Sling Media suggests a DVD player, for instance, but if you're away on a trip, this will only work if you can take it as read your partner/flatmates won't change the disc once you've set off.
The feature's far more useful for controlling a set-top box for remote viewing of encrypted channels, such as Sky broadcasts, and for setting your DVR to record that show you forget to activate before you left on your trip. I was pleased to find my Humax PVR-9200T included in the list of devices Sling Media has the infra-red remote control data for, so I gave it a go. Set-up's easy, and Sling Player popped up a suitably configured virtual remote control which allowed me not only to change channels, but also to access the programme guide and make sure the box recorded an episode of The Sopranos.
I was also able to call up and watch an episode of The League of Gentlemen recorded a while back and not yet deleted.
The downside is that controlling another device is laggy, and it feels worse as the available bandwidth narrows. But that shouldn't detract from the sheer joy of being able to control your DVR from somewhere else on the planet and catch up with programmes and movies you haven't had a chance to watch yet. It's almost as good as being able to watch the TV channels you want to view, not the ones your hotel thinks you'd like to enjoy.
And all this for under two hundred quid. Sling Media's shipping in the UK exclusively through Dixons Store Group outlets, which doesn't exactly make for competitive pricing, but £180's not exactly steep for what SlingBox does.
SlingBox is inexpensive yet inexhaustibly useful. You don't have to be a frequent flyer since the SlingBox is as happy beaming BBC Four to your bedroom as it is sending the channel - or any other digital broadcast - across the world to a hotel in a foreign city. And not just TV but other media sources and your video recordings. Sure, you're not going to get the same experience as you would watching on a big TV, but it's certainly the next best thing. Genius. ®
Sling Media SlingBox networkable TV tuner
The initial review says 'more later' about overheating of the Slingbox.
Is there therefore a safety issue if you need to leave it on or on standby (which?)at home (whihc may be empty), as well as presumably the digital box and router/modem?
Same kinda thing, except free
If you already have a Media Center PC with a TV tuner card, pretty much the same features are available free using Orb. http://www.orb.com
I bought a Hauppage TV Tuner card, with an Infrared Transceiver (25 quid on ebay) which can change the channel of your set top box remotely, or tune using the app provided direct from an regular TV arial. The stream is MPEG 2 I think, and can be watched on any PC with one of the more recent versions of Media Player, and controlled fully using the Orb web site. Unfortunatley work still use NT4, so my only option for sagging off is via my PDA on works (or the office above's unsecured) wireless LAN.
All of this being free is still a little too good to be true, so no idea how long it will remain FOC, fill your boots.
laggy? yes, but
> The downside is that controlling another device is laggy,
You can easily switch on the "control mode" where picture quality is reduced but the latency is also reduced. This is great for when you want to do things like control a Sky+ box planner.
PS I bought my SlingBox based upon this review
Works well, remote control is brilliant
As a true gadget geek who also travels a lot, I bought one of these almost as soon as it came out.
I found it easy to set up, and the quality is good, much better than I was expecting. There is a noticeable lag, even on a LAN, of about 2 seconds but that's not really a problem. I have a 100MBit wired network, 11MBit WLAN and 256kBit ADSL uplink to the outside world. Quality is full screen on my laptop on wired, full screen with occasional stutters on wireless and quarter screen when travelling.
It does a surprisingly good job of adjusting for flunctuating network conditions, although you will get dropouts if you're watching from a bad connection (the East Coast GNER service for instance).
There really isn't any way of describing the freedom and ease of use its remote control options give you - this is what sets it apart from just streaming video across the net. It's well worth it for that alone.
I wouldn't try to watch anything with subtitles across a slow connection though - action movies and cartoons are definitely its compression algorthms strong points.
I haven't yet tried wiring it up to, say, a baby monitor system yet, but that should be a neat thing which is possible.
What I'd like is a way of getting it to throttle the amount of data transferred depending on the time of day - not sure it can go to that level of management yet though.
A nice review of the functionality and design but how well does it work:
What's the picture quality like - how degraded is it from broadcast by the additional encode/decode?
Assuming your uplink tops out at 256k a lot of compression is likely - does it look good on a 15" screen? 20" screen? bigger?
How stable is it - my experience of low bitrates on a webcam is pretty poor with the picture freezing regularly - does this manage to maintain a connection reliably to avoid interupting playback?