Want to watch your home television set from anywhere in the world? Want no more, Slingbox is here.
This article appears in the February 07 issue of PC Advisor, onsale now in all good newsagents.
As Dorothy said, there's no place like home and one of home's great comforts is the familiarity of the TV programmes – even the ads.
Well, click your heels and you might just get your wish. Slingbox is a nifty little gadget that lets you watch your home TV programming anywhere, providing you have a broadband connection. It takes your home TV source, digitises it, streams it to your home network and then to you via the web. You can receive the resulting video on a laptop or desktop PC, or on your mobile phone – if you've got a Symbian handset and download the software.
As well as live TV you can, depending on your existing setup, get the Slingbox to serve up TV, music and photos from your hard drive.
In the US, there are several versions of the Slingbox: a tuner that accepts only analogue cable TV signals and has a single screw-type RF input; the Slingbox A/V which controls any cable or satellite box and accepts video signals via composite or S-Video; and the Slingbox Pro which accepts as many as four audiovisual sources, including HD video.
Within a network, the Slingbox's video performance is good. However, when you have to put up with the vagaries of the internet, the quality drops. This is only to be expected as most broadband services are asymmetric and can upload only at between 288 and 488Kbps (kilobits per second). Even so, I was able to observe good picture quality 70 miles away from where I live, while a friend in Tel-Aviv vouched for the watchability of the Slingbox from London – not bad from 2,200 miles away.
If you want a Slingbox there are three prerequisites to ownership: your PC must be running Windows XP or 2000 (a Mac OS beta is available), and you need a broadband internet connection and a router. Setting up a Slingbox wasn't hard –