I just setup the SlingBox as a Christmas present for my wife. She works from a home office and has always wanted a way to watch TV on her computer for when she wants to take a break, or catch up on some local news, etc.
I was originally looking at one of those Hauppauge TV adapter products that let you plug your cable line into your computer and watch the basic channels. While I was browsing these adapters at Circuit City, I saw the Slingbox's. I had read about them, but hadn't really thought about buying one until now. Once I realized how it worked, I was sold.
Basically it is a box that attaches to your cable or satellite receiver. In my case we have Comcast. It even works with a DVR. Once it is connected, you need to connect it to your home networking router. In our case, the router was in another room so I had to run a ethernet cable to where the router was. They make a add-on product called Slinglink that you can used to run the network connection through your power outlets if you don't have a convenient way to run an ethernet line. In my case, I could simply run the wire down through the basement and over to our router.
So anyway, once I got it installed, the next step was simply to download the viewer software from their website. A few minute installation and setup and next thing I know I was watching my cable box on my computer! The interesting design feature is that the Slingbox works by passing IR commands to your cable box to control it (using an IR attachment to your cable box). So from my computer I could now not only watch all my regular cable channels, but I could also control my DVR and watch any of my recorded programs.
Another benefit of the Slingbox is that you can also watch your TV from any location that has high-speed internet! So if we went on a business trip, we could watch our home TV from our laptop pretty much anywhere in the world. Pretty neat. This particular mode cost around $150 and supported most cable/DVR/satellite HD boxes.
Some downsides I noticed: Since you are remotely controlling the cable box it is hooked up to, if someone is watching that particular TV at that time, you both have to watch the same thing. Only one computer can access the stream at one time, which I'm sure was designed for legal reasons. Not a big deal, but something worth noting.
Overall I really like this product. The software is very easy to use and the picture/audio quality is great. We have it connected to our home wireless network, and my wife's office upstairs gets the TV stream via WiFi and it works just fine. From what I've read, anything slower than WiFi and the quality drops quite a bit. A cool product definitely worth a look for that techno person in the family... ;-)
For my B-day, the better half bought me a Sling Box. I'd review it but I haven't got it working yet due to networking issues. The box basically hooks up to your TV receiver or any device and plays it over the internet to any PC or even cell. Should be great.
The Sling Link accessory is a network bridge between your modem and the SlingBox plugged into the TV receiver. It consists of two little boxes that broadcast to each other the signal so you can use this if your receiver isn't next to your internet router, which frankly, how many user's are.
Here's my beef, the box, website and all advertising say (paraphrased), if you have a plug, you have internet. They make it boldly seem that you can plug one of these into your router and no matter where you plug the other one in your house, it will talk to the first. Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, will you find it disclose that the two MUST be on the same circuit breaker.
The units use the technology of signaling through a different Hertz and using the home electrical wiring as the conduit. So different breaker means no circuit. I'm just trying to get across the bedroom and the room has two different breakers dedicated to each side.
If I moved the link close enough to be on the same plug set, it completely defeats its purpose and usability. So no, any plug will not do. If you have a plug "within ten feet" it should say, then you have internet. I'm taking it back and picking up a special box that receives wireless signals via convention frequencies. BTW, I can't use a network card because even though the Slingbox has a USB port, it is for "later technology" and useless now??
So, the Slingbox looks a little under developed but may be a great thing once I get the kinks out. Anyone looking at one, don't even bother with the SlingLink without checking out first if it will work for you based on what I found out (through the tech support, which BTW is almost always open and eager to help). I assume they are kept busy once I got into this set up and all the things that have to be done right to get it going.