As many of you have requested, I am covering one of my favorite tech devices today: Slingbox. I gave my husband a Slingbox the month it came on the market and we have been using one ever since. If you love tv, then you will love the Slingbox!
What Is a Slingbox?
Slingbox is simply a place shifter for your tv viewing, as opposed to a dvr which is a time shifter for your tv viewing. A dvr allows you to watch your shows when you choose to, instead of when they air. Slingbox allows you to watch your shows where you want to – you no longer have to be sitting in front of the tv to watch your shows.
You can watch either live or recorded shows, depending on how your Slingbox is connected. I connect our Slingbox to a dvr so I can watch recorded shows. But that’s generally how I like to watch tv so it makes sense that’s how I’d like to watch my Slingbox.
How Does It Work?
Slingbox is a small box that connects to your tv, the Internet and whatever you use to watch tv: a cable box, dvr, rabbit ears antenna, etc. Slingbox takes the tv signal and sends it over the Internet. You can then watch the Slingbox signal on a computer, smart phone, or other mobile device connected to the Internet. You need SlingPlayer software on the computer (free) or a $30 SlingPlayer app for your mobile device, but there is no subscription fee for this service. The Slingbox costs $149-$248 at J&R. Don’t forget to get your 3% rebate from Mr. Rebates, Your New Best Friend!!
If you download the SlingPlayer software onto your computer, your computer screen will display a remote control that looks just like the one that came with your dvr. This way you can control your dvr through your Slingbox by pausing, scheduling recordings, fast forwarding through commercials, rewinding, etc.
How Would I Use It?
You can use a Slingbox in two ways. First, you can have a Slingbox in your own home. If you travel a lot or just want to watch tv in a place in your home where there isn’t a tv, Slingbox can be very handy. Imagine soaking in a warm bath while catching up on the latest episode of your favorite show. Just keep the laptop away from the bathwater.
Or imagine you have rented an adorable beach cottage for the week but the weather doesn’t cooperate and the house doesn’t have many tv channels. The kids are getting cranky and missing Disney Channel. Slingbox to the rescue!
Or picture this, you have booked a vacation at a tropical resort in the Caribbean the same week that your favorite tv show airs its grand finale. You know if you don’t watch it live you will accidentally find out the ending before you return home. No problem, just watch the show with your Slingbox!
Another way to use Slingbox is to have one hosted at a friend’s house. This is handy if your friend lives in a different geographic region. Think local sports teams. If you’re a big Philadelphia Eagles fan but aren’t lucky enough to live in the City of Brotherly Love, you could have a Philly friend host a Slingbox for you, allowing you to watch the games aired on Philadelphia stations.
When I lived in London, my dear friend Rachel (who is also the head of the expert web design team for this blog) hosted my Slingbox on her dvr in Virginia. I was happily able to watch all of my favorite US shows on my computer in England. It was great waking up Friday mornings knowing an episode of Survivor from the night before was waiting for me to enjoy.
Other things you should know. First, if a friend is hosting your Slingbox, she should have a dvr that can record two shows at once. It’s frustrating to watch a show on SlingPlayer when your host changes the channel and you miss the end of the show.
Second, make sure you have free Internet wherever you watch SlingPlayer, especially in a foreign country. You don’t want to get walloped with international data charges if you watch SlingPlayer on your mobile device that isn’t using Wi-Fi.
We learned this the hard way when my husband and I were staying in a hotel in Germany and he wanted to watch the last 15 minutes of an NFL game. He grabbed my cell phone, clicked on the SlingPlayer app and watched his team lose in the last few seconds of the game. He was even more miserable when we got the cell phone bill. The international data charges for 15 minutes of watching Slingbox: $1000. I was able to negotiate the charges down to $200, but that was a lesson well learned. The worst part? My husband could have watched his team lose for free over the hotel’s Wi-Fi! But it could have been much, much worse…
If you’re a big fan of tv and want to have control of what you watch and where, make sure to check out Slingbox so you never have to miss a show again!
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*Photo by momentimedia