Yesterday was my birthday, and members of my extended family got together to buy me a Slingbox Solo. This was something that I had strongly hinted would be a good gift, not just because it’s the kind of tech toy I enjoy experimenting with, but also because I actually have a particular problem I wanted to solve…
You probably remember that this summer I moved my home computer space from the basement to Dennis’ old bedroom upstairs. Unfortunately, Dennis’ room doesn’t have a cable hookup, so I couldn’t use the eyeTV that was hooked to my G5 any more.
The Slingbox would solve this problem by taking the video and audio feed directly from the PVR in the livingroom, encoding it as a digital stream and transmitting it over an ethernet connection. Running the Slingplayer software on a Mac or PC allows you to capture that stream and display it; to use the vernacular, it placeshifts the content. The player software also provides a fully functional remote control that looks (and works) just like the one on the PVR.
To cut to the chase, I hooked it all up yesterday, and it works exactly as described. I can now watch my TV, complete with digital cable connection and PVR functionality, from anywhere in the house (via wifi). The picture quality is perfectly acceptable and the sound is good — although I sometimes notice some slight synchronization issues.
Now, when you first install the Slingbox, it makes you configure various things related to setting it up to transmit over the internet, so for grins today I thought I’d try to figure out how to set up the Slingplayer software so I could watch my TV at home, while not on my local LAN. I figured there would be firewall problems, and even if not, there would be various settings I’d have to enter to make the software connect home, etc. In any case, I started the software on my Mac and then began looking through the menus for a hint about what to do, when lo and behold, I got this:
Yup, just starting the software was all it took. That’s video from my home TV, being displayed on my laptop at work. [And yes, I tested it during my lunch break.]
Oh, and did I mention they will have an iPhone version of Slingplayer sometime this quarter. 🙂