allows you to take TV with you wherever you roam
Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business
July 3-9, 2007; issue 923
High Tech Office column;
able to record to videotape and more recently to DVD discs and hard
drives has made it possible to make broadcast TV available when you
want it. But maybe you don’t want to spend post-holiday time catching
up on what you recorded. Or maybe a holiday away from your favourite
broadcasts isn’t much of a holiday at all.
Instead of time
shifting, you might want location shifting, which is made possible by a
series of products by Sling Media. Their Slingbox, which looks like an
over-sized chocolate bar, comes in three varieties, each of which plugs
into your TV connections and uses the Internet to let you watch what’s
on at home anywhere you’ve got Internet access: on your Windows or Mac
laptop or even on Windows Mobile, Palm or Symbian smart phones.
under $200, there’s the base model Slingbox Tuner. It connects to a
standard coaxial cable connection. About $215 buys the AV model.
Instead of connecting to a cable outlet, it connects to a digital cable
or satellite box. The Pro model (about $310) connects to all of the
above as well as HD devices (you may need to add a $55 HD Connect
Cable) and allows connection to up to four AV sources. All include
widescreen support and a clever, though fiddly, remote IR control cable
that sends the same sort of signal as a standard remote control to your
AV devices. (You’ve got to line up the little light on the end of the
IT cable with the input on your video source and then with luck it will
work with your hardware.)
Hook it all up, plug it into an
ethernet network cable, install the software on your computer or smart
phone (or both) and you’re ready to watch whatever’s on wherever you
happen to be.
Hold on, you say, who’s got network outlets in the
same room as their TV setup? Add a SlingLink powerline ethernet adapter
(about $140). It lets you use your home powerline wiring to connect
into your router. Alternatively, a bit of fiddling around should let
you hook into a WiFi access point.
You may have to fuss with
both your computer’s firewall software and your router’s built-in
firewall before your computer and the Slingbox can see one another.
(Sling Media’s support page has some tips for being able to access it
if it’s blocked by your company’s firewall.)
Connecting with the
SlingPlayer software, you’ll have to enter the Slingbox’s “name” and ID
and a password. You’re not allowed to use the Internet to broadcast to
the whole world. Only you should have access to your Slingbox. The
licence agreement forbids you from logging into someone else’s Slingbox
or taking your Slingbox and hooking it into another location.
one person at a time has access to the Slingbox’s re-broadcasts, and
while you’re accessing it remotely, users at home can’t control that
video source. (Someone else could be watching another channel on
another TV, but the one with the Slingbox hooked up will no longer be
available.) And there will be time zone issues when you try to watch
programs showing at home when you’re, say, eight hours away.
video tape recorders first became widely available, the TV networks
were not amused. Ultimately the courts ruled that broadcast signals
could be recorded for personal use. Major League Baseball appears to
view Slingbox’s location shifting as a threat to its online MLB.TV
service. The NHL, in contrast, is working with Sling Media to make
hockey content available on an upcoming Clip + Sling service.
not sure if your employer will be happy if you start watching daytime
TV instead of paying attention to work. But Slingbox makes it possible.