Slingbox Review

Slingbox Review

Not necessarily related to your HTPC directly, but incorporates some pretty cool features that all you media whores might enjoy, enter SlingBox.  For those who haven’t heard of Sling, they are a set top box manufacturer that makes boxes that you connect to your DVR and stream content to your iOS/Android device or a network connected PC or Mac.  I recently got into Sling when my grandparents were travelling away from home for a month to a condo without full cable TV.  Instead of suggesting a full HTPC setup (imagine that, full HTPC for your grandparents?!) for them, I suggested we get a Slingbox Pro HD and connect that back to their AT&T U-Verse which they absolutely love.

SlingBox Setup

Once they ordered the moderately priced box (around $200 on Amazon), I was tasked with setting it up for them.  Out of the box, the Slingbox Pro HD has Ethernet, Component video, Composite video, S-Video, USB, Coax in/out and a Parallel LPT port.  Kidding about the LPT port of course, but the thing has more connectivity options than you could ever ask for (minus HDMI).  They support control for up to three devices remotely which is pretty bad ass.

What I did was hook up the component video from their U-Verse DVR into the Slingbox and then run component out from the Slingbox back into the TV.  Plugged in Ethernet and installed the software on their desktop PC.  The smart software detected the slingbox connected to their ethernet network and configured it as a member of my account.  Now I grabbed their laptop and connected to their website streaming service from the neighbors guest wireless (don’t tell!) and tested the stream.  Immediately, it detected the model of the DVR box they had and even put up a similar on screen remote similar to what they are already used to.

It allowed me to control their channels much like if I was sitting in front of the tube.  Pretty easy and awesome for the grandparents on vacation, all they have to do is connect to the Sling website and log in with their credentials and stream away.

My Final Thoughts

Although this box is pretty cool for my grandparents, I couldn’t justify buying the device for my own setup when I use Plex which can stream to all my devices via MyPlex, without a hefty bill to my cable company each month for service.  That and the device is around 2.5 years old, so I’m guessing they must be releasing a new model soon.  The no HDMI is pretty surprising as well, in 2009 when this model was released, HDMI was still the #1 home theater connectivity medium, so why not include it?  The world may never know.

For family members that aren’t tech savvy enough to roll their own HTPC, and have cable = I thoroughly recommend.

For those of us who have our own HTPC and have other ways to stream/access content = Save $200.

PS:

They also have some cool accessories, like a powerline adapter that will integrate into your current powerline adapter and stream multiple devices over that ethernet connection.

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