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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Review: Slingbox from Sling Media Programming, an Unassuming Package

By Le Perdu

Ever been three and a half thousand miles from home and felt an overwhelming urge to know what your local weather was like? Is your dog sitting in the rain? Have you even been desperate to know what your favorite regional new station has to say about your football or baseball team? Sad I know, but for all of you who absolutely have to know the answers to these questions a stroke of sheer genius recently arrived in the form of the Slingbox from Sling Media.

Over the last couple of years several ideas that allow remote TV viewing have hit the market. Most notable of these was the eternally clever LocationFree TV from Sony, which is arguably the granddaddy of all home-TV-to-internet-broadcast systems available. Unfortunately Sony's idea was flawed as you were forced to carry a book size LCD screen with you wherever you went. This device contacted the base station back at your house via the Internet and BAM! TV anywhere you wanted it. As the entire solution was proprietary it was not possible to make use of your laptop or a friends PC to view your LocationFree TV base station.

This and several bandwidth related issues have been resolved with Sling Media's solution. Simply connect the Slingbox to your home entertainment system, stereo system, satellite or cable receiver then using the onboard RJ45 connector connect it to your Internet connection. Note that the device requires a network connection that will provide it a DHCP assigned IP address, which most home networks have; if your home network gear is new enough the Slingbox will configure itself and the network up using UPnP. Software installation was brief and painless, and required me to answer a few basic questions before my system was on the air.

The Slingbox allows you to actually control independent devices that you connect to it; you can turn your VCR on or off, change channels on your cable receiver and even change radio stations on your stereo to suit your viewing/listening preferences. Unfortunately only one person can use the device at a time, which is a slight drawback in my opinion. It can also be connected to your TiVo for instant replay or watch your prerecorded programming at your hearts content from your hotel room.

In conclusion, this product is a must for anyone incapable of completely detaching themselves from their lives while away from home. It is very reasonably priced, coming in at around $200, simple to configure and use and very simple to locate from anywhere in the world. Picture quality is surprisingly good and the sound quality is great. You can even try it wirelessly from your couch!

Two thumbs up.

Tech notes:

· The biggest issue that I encountered was getting the Slingbox through my firewall. The device requires NAT/port forwarding on TCP ports 5001 and 5678 and UDP 5001. If you run a firewall expect to have to do this.

· You can choose to use different ports during the setup wizard if you so desire.

· The Slingbox communicates with a location server on the Internet, sending its IP address in a 36 character encrypted string called a Finder ID. Write/copy this Finder ID down as you will need it to locate your Slingbox when you are on the road.

· If you are lucky enough to have a static IP address at your house you can use it to find your Slingbox instead of the Finder ID.

· The software must be installed on all devices that you plan to use to connect to the Slingbox at your house, but can be downloaded from Sling Media's site if you forget the CD at home.
Product Specs taken from Sling Media's website:


RCA Audio L/R

Composite video



RCA audio L/R

Composite video


Device Control
IR emitter


TV tuner
NTSC (built in)

10.6 in. W x 1.6 in. H x 4 in. D

~1.5 lbs


Package contents

1 x Slingbox

1 x software CD

2 x Audio/video cables

1 x S-video cable

1 x power adapter

1 x network cable

1 x IR emitter

1 x Coaxial Cable

1 x quick setup guide

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le Perdu is a contributing author on, a growing site dedicated to random reading, obscure articles and some rather out there opinions. We dare to be different, and we are always looking for articles and authors.

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