another life changing device

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May 2004 - You know how much I like my ReplayTV for it's ability to record anything and everything. And you know how much I like my SliMP3 player shooting music all over the world. Now enter the newest player: Slingbox.

Vance turned me on to this little devil and I knew I had to get one. Best Buy is the local pimp, but you wouldn't know it to talk to them. I was so far ahead of the curve that the sales people didn't even know what I was talking about. It took three trips until they had one in stock. When I had my hands on the last one... and then there were none.

Slingbox hooks up between your Tivo (or whatever) and your TV. It also hooks up to your broadband internet connection. With this in place you can watch your Tivo from anywhere in the world.

The Slingbox is essentially a real time video streaming device. From any internet connection in the world you can log in to your Slingbox, turn on your Tivo, and watch whatever you want. The Slingbox will intercept the video and stream it to your PC. Wow. (It also contains a little infrared device so that you can remotely control your Tivo.)

Why would you want to do this?

  1. You are traveling to France on business. The Cal game is on Saturday and you don't want to miss it. So, have your Tivo record it. Then while you relax in your hotel in France, stream the Cal game to your PC and watch it in your hotel room.
  2. You're spending weekends at your ski cabin. Your too cheap to buy cable up there, but you do have an internet connection. Log on to your Slingbox and watch anything you want on live TV.
  3. You only have one Tivo, and it's stuck in the living room next to your TV. You're sitting in the back yard under the spreading chestnut tree. You fire up your laptop with the wireless link. While sipping an ice tea you watch the latest episode of The Daily Show on your PC.

Is it easy to set up? You bet. The cables are straight forward. Then I installed the Slingbox client on my laptop. The software found the Slingbox on my network and walked me through a set of configuration steps that was both easy to understand and provided excellent feedback on what was happening. Installation was really a joy. The next day I was in San Carlos and watching my Replay over the internet. Wow wow wow.

Picture quality is pretty good. This isn't HDTV, but it is very serviceable. In full screen mode the video takes up the center 50% of my laptop screen. As the video streaming gets underway the Slingbox and the software monitor line speed and they negotiate a bit rate that preserves smooth video while giving the best picture possible. After about two minutes everything has locked in and the experience is just fantastic.

This is another Must Buy product.



Jim Schrempp is a sometimes freelance writer (only Vanity Press will publish his work) living in Saratoga, California. His writings have appeared on numerous pages on his own web site. The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of anyone else (although Jim wishes more people shared his opinions)