Live TV on Your Computer or Smartphone, No Monthly Fees
New services like Hulu Plus and Bitbop are rolling out across the country bringing selected TV programming to computing devices like netbooks and smartphones. But 63 percent of Americans already pay for high speed broadband along with a cable or satellite subscription, and may balk at paying another fee for watching the same content on their phone that they pay for on their TV. So-called "Placeshifting" devices like Slingbox offer a solution.
Slingbox, a low profile box about the size of a computer keyboard, allows users to remotely connect to their TV from anywhere in the world. Slingbox can be used for remote DVR control as well, so users can watch live programming and shows they’ve saved to their DVR. Any computer can become your virtual TV.
Slingbox is a placeshifting device as opposed to a timeshifting device like a DVR. The DVR lets viewers record and watch programs on their schedule, essentially shifting view time for their convenience, but viewers must watch the recorded content from their DVR connected TV.
In contrast, a placeshifting device like Slingbox allows users to watch anything from their home TV at another location, whether that’s another room in the house or in a hotel room thousands of miles away. Slingbox does allow up to an hour of timeshifting during a live program, so you can pause and return.
To use Slingbox, you must have a TV, a PC or Mac computer, a home network router and a high speed (broadband or DSL) Internet connection. There are two parts to Slingbox: the hardware, which is the box itself and cables, and the software that runs through Web browsers such as Internet Explorer , Firefox and Safari. Currently, Google Chrome is not supported.
Slingbox comes with its own cables, including component video cable for a high-definition source along with stereo audio cable for an HD TV or DVR, composite audio-video (AV) cable and higher quality S-video cable for standard definition sources like a DVD player or VCR, and coax cable to make the connection to a TV and cable box. Choose the highest quality connection that each A/V source has available.
The easiest way to make the connections is to look at the back of your TV, cable or satellite box and other home theater components. For every connection you already have, you will add a connection between the Slingbox and the device. You may connect up to three pieces of equipment including the TV to the Slingbox.
Slingbox also comes with a power adapter, Ethernet cable and remote control IR cable that can beam the infrared signal from your remote to each of your connected devices. When you're placing the remote control IR cables, use your remote to find the IR sensors that are often hard to see if not activated.
Later, during the computer setup, if you find that your virtual remote on your computer does not change the channels, go back to the connected devices and adjust the IR cable. It's easiest if you have a laptop or netbook and can do the adjusting in front of the television. These placements must be exact.
The User Guide contains detailed directions plus helpful diagrams to make set up fairly easy, but if you're unfamiliar with the inputs and outputs, you might enlist the help of a willing teen.
After you have connected the Slingbox, open the browser on your computer and go to www.slingbox.com. Select “Watch” from the top menu. Once you’ve set up your account, you can login with your email address and password from any computer.
Watching TV on the go
Slingbox Solo is priced at $180 and the HD version, Slingbox HD-Pro, runs $300. Both are available through major retail outlets such as Best Buy.
Along with the Web version for computers, Slingbox offers mobile apps to bring TV to your smartphone and other mobile devices like the iPad. Apps for iPhones and Android phones are priced at $30, available in the iTunes Store and Android Market, respectively. Mobile versions for other phones running Windows Mobile, Symbian, BlackBerry and Classic Palm OS are available for the same price along with a free 30-day trial in the Slingbox Store. Remember, the apps only work in tandem with the Slingbox device connected at home to a computer.
The mobile download and launch process take no more than 5 minutes. Voila! TV on your phone with no additional monthly fees.
- How to Control What Your Kids Watch on YouTube
- How to Put Your Data Hungry iPhone on a Diet
- Zap: 10 All-electric Vehicles Gearing Up to Hit the Streets