How often do you find yourself wanting to watch or record your favorite program but there’s no TV available. Imagine yourself in a foreign country that doesn’t speak English and you can’t watch TV in a language that you don’t understand. That’s just what happened when one of our Editors recently traveled to Beijing, China (for five months) to cover technology at its source.

The Slingbox is a unique standalone hardware device that works on a simple premise. It enables you to watch your TV programming from wherever you are by turning virtually any Internet-connected PC into your personal TV. Whether you’re in another room or in another country, you’ll always have access to your television. It empowers its owners to have access to their home television at anytime from any broadband connected location with no monthly service fees.

Getting Started

  1. Connect the Slingbox to your Tivo, DTR, Satellite or cable box, or any other device with audio/video output
  2. Run a wire to a broadband connection
  3. Setup the software with a user id and password on your laptop or approved mobile device
  4. Enjoy the benefits of TV on the go!Our initial installation ran into a couple of minor glitches, but after a brief conversation with their helpful technical support rep, we were up and running

How Does the Picture Look

Picture quality was surprisingly good, however it varied depending on a variety of factors including broadband speed, distance, wired or wireless usage, etc. Under reasonable conditions we were able to obtain a watchable picture with minor intermittent glitches. In the house using our Linksys wireless router, we were able to take the unit from room to room and even outside on the patio and have a reasonably good viewing experience. It was far better than our recent brief review of Sony’s LocationFree® unit.

Our Editor in Beijing reported mixed results primarily due to a lack of consistent broadband connectivity, however he was able to watch shows at a tolerable level. This was a comforting experience in a foreign land.

I took my laptop on a recent speaking tour to Budapest, Hungary and watched a recorded episode of NCIS in bed in my hotel room using Marriott’s wireless in room services. The unit worked quite well and was the only television that we watched in that country. We also tried the unit from hotels in Vienna, Prague, and London with surprisingly good results.

An Outstanding Surprise

Problem: The weather was beautiful in Newport Beach when a friend invited me to go out on his new 43′ cabin cruiser. Unfortunately, it was on the day of the World Cup. This was a tough one!

Solution: We recently received word that Sling was offering a new download called SlingPlayer that would allow us to watch TV on devices powered by Windows Mobile operating system. Luckily, we were in the process of testing Palm’s new Treo 700w (see related article) which runs on the Windows O/S and we quickly downloaded the application. From the captains bridge on the second deck of the boat we all gathered round the Treo and watched the game. We were even able to access our Tivo so that we could replay key plays, such as the famous head butting incident. It was luxury living at its best.

Think of the Possibilities

Watch TV on your laptop in bed without disturbing your partner.

Watch TV on your laptop while working in the garage or out by the pool.

Hook the unit to your XM or Sirius satellite receiver and listen to broadcasts over the internet at work.

Access your TV from your Windows Media Phone.Watch TV on your desktop computer from your cubicle during lunch.

Get TV on an unlimited number of PCs* without the hassle and cost of adding new hardware (i.e. TV tuner cards) and software drivers to every computer – with no additional service fees.

*Note: Only one one person can connect to a Slingbox at a time.

It isn’t often that we have the opportunity to review a piece of hardware that has the power to transform the way you watch television. It is especially refreshing to see a new technology that doesn’t have a monthly fee attached. At a street price of around $150.00 it’s a dream come true for television attics and casual viewers who don’t want to be tied down. We anxiously await their new product releases along with viewers for the Treo 650 and 700p.

Manufacturer: Sling Media

*Images provided by the Manufacturer