Slingbox revisited

clip_image002 As far as I’m concerned, Sling Media is a company that has rocked the world, at least my world. I’ve been a champion of Slingbox since the beginning in 2004.

What will a Slingbox do for you?

A Slingbox is a small, sleek unit that connects directly to you TV or DVR. It makes it possible to watch live or recorded TV on your computer, laptop, or mobile phone from home or anywhere in the world. Anything you can do with your remote control at home, you can do with Slingbox on your computer remotely. You can record, playback, and send clips via email.

Technical Support

When purchasing a new product, especially when you are just getting starting and setting it up, it is important to know that there is good technical support available. I am happy to report that Sling Media’s customer support is superb. Phone support is available from 7AM to 7PM PST, seven days a week. Online support is available through email and live chat. It doesn’t get much better than that. I have found technicians to be knowledgeable and helpful.

Sling Media Products

My first Slingbox was a plain vanilla AV that worked without flaw for at six years, and then it developed some kind of a connection problem, but it was time to upgrade anyway. I have recently acquired a more powerful HD Pro capable of transmitting HD data and a much better resolution picture. It goes for $299.99. HD Pro lets you control and watch your home TV on multiple devices.

The Slingbox Solo only costs $179.99 and will stream a single standard or high-definition video input to a remote device.

The SlingCatcher is a digital video data amalgamator that brings entertainment to your TV set. With SlingCatcher, you can display data from a Slingbox, your computer, or any other data source available, including the Internet or from a storage device. This universal media player costs $199.99. You might think of it as a reverse Slingbox that displays video on your TV instead of displaying TV video on your remote devices. One drawback for the moment is that it will not sling HD content. It doesn’t work on MACs either.

If your router is in a different location than your TV and DVR, you don’t have to run a hardwire connection. Let SlingLink Turbo come to the rescue. Turbo boxes plug into ordinary power outlets in your home and use the wiring in your house to transmit data from your Slingbox to your router. All you have to do is plug Ethernet cables in from Turbo box to the Slingbox and from the Turbo box to the router. SlingLinks come in single port ($79.95) and four-port models ($49.95).

Software

The most recent version of Slingplayer software gives you an onscreen remote control that looks just the one at home so there is no learning curve. You can also display a complete TV lineup from your TV source complete with program descriptions. Slingplayer software for desktops and laptops is free as are updates. Display of remote and guide data is optional and you can select placement options for where it appears on the screen.

Updates for SlingLink and and SlingCatcher are available as free downloads.

Slingplayer software for mobile devices is not free and costs $29.95. You can try it free for 30 days. After that, a registration code is required. Slingplayer for mobile devices is already available for Windows Mobile, Symbian, and even Blackberry. It will soon be on iPhones as well.

Observations

I cannot even imagine leaving home without Slingplayer software installed on my mobile phone and laptop. The great thing about it is that it really works, even with HD TV, and there is no monthly fee.

News Flash: Dish Network recently acquired Sling Media. It will be interesting to see how this relationship unfolds. I first learned of this acquisition by the curious appearance of a four minute recording on my DVR. It was a nice little commercial for Slingbox at the end of which viewers learn that Dish had purchased Sling Media. It reminded me of AT&T spamming their customers with unsolicited text messages. I wonder if this is a portend of things to come with cable and satellite companies pounding their customers with SPAM. Shame on Dish.

However, we shall soon see the first favorable outcome of this new relationship. Echostar, the parent company of Dish, has already combined Slingbox technology with its new Echostar 922 DVR with 1 terabyte of expandable storage. This amazing device that won best of show in CES will be available soon.

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