Sling Media Informative - Interesting product for watching TV on your computer
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 use 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 any where in the world. Pretty neat.
This particular mode cost around $150 and supported most cable/DVR/satellite HD boxes.
Some downsides I noticed:
1. 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.
2. 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... ;-)
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