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What is a Slingbox and Do I Need One?

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by Lori Cunningham

Slingbox 500 (20)

 

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You’ve probably heard the word “Slingbox” slung around but do you know what it is?  A Slingbox is a physical device that you attach to your cablebox/DVR and it allows you to control and view your TV/cablebox/DVR content from afar using a broadband Internet connection and the SlingPlayer app on your mobile phone, iPad, or through Slingbox software on your laptop. In essence, you can watch live TV or your DVR content from anywhere in the world.  Slingbox has been around since 2004 and has greatly progressed in features since that time.  And better yet?  There are no monthly fees!

Features

  • Access any content on your TV/DVR such as live sports, local channels, recorded shows, and premium shows
  • Record and view in 1080 HD
  • No monthly fees
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Built-in IR emitter – no cables needed
  • HDMI capable
  • Guest access to Slingbox for family members/friends
  • SlingPlayer (extra cost) works with smartphones – Android, Apple, and Windows platforms
  • SlingPlayer can be used for free through another TV screen or free apps on Western Digital media players, Sony Internet Player with Google TV, and Netgear NeoTV (as well as through Facebook!)
  • Use SlingProjector from your phone to stream pictures and videos through your Slingbox to your TV

 

Setup

We have a complicated set-up with wires running everywhere in our media area of our family room.  I was nervous I would knock an input or move a wire, and not know where to put the wire back.  I noticed that you could connect using a HDMI port, which I was happy because my FIOS set-top box had one HDMI port open.  I connected the two and thought I was done.  But then I found out that I also needed to connect the composite connector between the two units too, because apparently connected content doesn’t travel on HDMI.  So I took out all the composite video cables from my set-top box and hooked them into the Slingbox.  From the Slingbox I used the included composite cables and sent them back into the set-top box.  I followed the onscreen directions and viola, it worked, just liked that.  Phew!
               Slingbox 500 (18)               Slingbox 500 (17)
Then the nerve-wrecking part came, my husband came into the room and was tepidly nervous to see if I messed up his well-working TV set-up.  He came in too early for me to check out everything.  Fortunately after a bit of him being disgruntled because his stereo sound didn’t sound right (not an issue I caused), he fixed it and we found everything was working as it should.  Yeah!
I went into our office, loaded the Slingbox website, signed in, and was able to watch the same show my husband was watching in the office.
               Slingbox 500 (6)               Slingbox 500 (12)
What better day to debut the Slingbox than on Superbowl Sunday.  I downloaded the SlingPlayer app so that my iPad could view the Superbowl as well.  There was probably about a 10-15 second delay from the actual live show to what was playing on my iPad.  Nonetheless, during the halftime show, Beyonce looked great.  This solution works great especially when you’re grilling or cooking and can’t keep your eye on the game on the main TV.
Pros:
  • Watch your Slingbox programming for free on any laptop/computer using your browser or the SlingPlayer app (app costs $14.99) on your mobile phone, tablet, Kindle, etc.
  • The same remote you use for your DVR pops up on your laptop/computer so you can watch and pause live TV, access your DVR recorded content, even your cable provider’s widgets
  • You can watch your live TV or recorded content from anywhere in the world
  • If your TV and recorded shows use 1080 HD, your shows will be in the same quality
  • There is no monthly fee to access your TV content
  • You can give guest access to your Slingbox so a family member/friend can also access your content
  • Streaming your pictures from your smartphone (and soon tablets too!) to your TV using SlingProjector is so handy
Cons:
  • It’s a bit pricey to buy the SlingPlayer on your mobile devices to watch your Slingbox content
  • Only one person can use the SlingPlayer app/software at a time (called placeshifting, this avoids copy infringement)
Only one person can use the SlingPlayer app/software at the same time means:
   1. I can use Slingbox from my PC while someone is watching TV in the family room where the Slingbox is, but we both have control of the TV, so it’s better you agree on the show to watch ahead of time!
  2.  I cannot use Slingbox app on my iPad or other mobile device if someone is watching TV on a computer or other mobile device.
Slingbox Live TV & Verizon Remote Superbowl
Slingbox is introducing a new feature for the Slingbox 500 called the SlingSync.  Its features are similar to the SlingProjector, except you can store and archive your phone’s pictures and videos to the USB drive you connect to your Slingbox 500.  It will automatically download the pictures/videos for you so you don’t even have to think about it and you’ll be able to access these pictures and videos on your Slingbox 500 from anywhere in the world via your SlingSync app.
Fortunately, everything worked as advertised.  The Slingbox 500 is the most advanced Slingbox available featuring HDMI ports, the ability to sling your pictures on your TV from your mobile devices (using SlingPlayer), built-in WiFi,and agreat TV interface with on-screen setup.  The Slingbox 500 sells for $298 from Amazon.com plus free super saver shipping.  The SlingPlayer is now available for half price for $14.99 on Android, iOS, and Windows.

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The Slingbox is truly remarkable in that you can view and control and watch your DVR from anywhere in the world.  Out of town and want to watch The Bachelor…without commercials?  Wait a half hour after the show starts and see it on your iPad, using the SlingPlayer app.  I love it!  Traveling with your family and there’s nothing on TV?  Set up your laptop and watch recorded shows from your DVR at home.  My kids’ biggest complaint when traveling is that they can’t watch their shows when they want to watch them and second, they don’t like watching the commercials.  Now with the Slingbox, they don’t have to.  There’s nothing like taking the “comforts of home” with you on a trip.
I had the opportunity to test the Slingbox while vacationing down in Mazatlan, Mexico.  Much to my surprise, it actually worked.  When I opened the SlingPlayer app on my iPad, I saw an onscreen remote, exactly like the one I have at home.  I accessed my DVR, played some shows and even could record current shows or upcoming shows, just like I could do at home, the functionality was the same.  I could even watch live TV.  The only possible issue I noticed is that the Slingbox Player plays only as well as your WiFi connection works.  If you have a bad connection, there will be some delays in your video.
I cannot wait to take the SlingPlayer app with me on our next vacation with the kids.  They will love watching their favorite shows on the road and my husband and I will appreciate  watching our favorite shows before arriving home.  In the past, we’d come home to a bunch of shows to play catch up on.  If you’re a TV fanatic…or your kids are…Slingbox is an inexpensive way to add extra convenience to your life.
How would you use Slingbox?
*  I was given a Slingbox 500 and SlingPlayer app to conduct this review.  All opinions are my own.



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1 comments
t2thedoc
t2thedoc

the only reason i havent canceled verizon yet is because I have 149 movies. That I purchased for about $20 each. Which, at the time I signed the contract, had the capability to be saved to a drive. The contract that states verizon can change the terms and conditions of the contract anytime they want and we can all just kiss it. They changed the terms, the movies are all going to disappear when I cancel. Its not really MY movie according to verizon, I paid the $20 to store thier copy of the movie onto my account. Once my account is gone so is the roughly $3g worth of movies. 

Can someone tell me if this slingbox thingy will solve this problem?

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