Sling Media produces a line of Slingbox products that accept video input to a proprietary codec with a UDP video server you can access across your home LAN, or with reduced quality from anywhere, using their Slingplayer client program. Of course you need to open a port in your firewall to access Slingbox remotely. The client programs for Windows, and now Mac too, rely on uPNP to find each new Slingbox.
For our review we went directly to the top of the line model, the Slingbox Pro, along with the optional Sling Media HD Connect Cable to allow connection of HD input. We used a Dish Networks ViP622 DVR as the source for our signal, we also connected our local CATV service to the NTSC tuner for SD TV (no screenshots of standard TV).
We installed the client on a Dual 2.0GHz G5 Power Mac and on a Core Duo 20″ iMac. Screenshots were taken on the Power Mac with a 24″ Dell 1920 by 1200 monitor connected. We used SnapNDrag for the screenshots and Galerie to create the screenshot gallery.
Installation of the SlingBox Pro hardware was a breeze. The provided component video cables let us connect our satellite PVR, while the cable TV connection was done by inserting the SlingBox Pro in front of the TV tuner using a provided coaxial cable with F connectors. (enlarge rear connectors)
The software installation was also easy. A guided installer found the unit and displayed a thumbnail of its video during the installation. The SlingBox and Power Mac were connected to the same gigabit Ethernet LAN, although the SlingBox uses only a Fast Ethernet interface, plenty fast for its maximum data rate. Performance across a Wi Fi connection may be diminished by bandwidth, but like streaming content players used on websites the SlingPlayer and Slingbox adjust throughput, and therefore quality, as needed.
Given our nearly ideal test case, the performance was quite good. Some moire is seen in shots with certain types of clothing or buildings. The audio performs well, and not much of our dual CPU power is consumed by the client.
We intended to use Slingbox only on our home LAN, those planning to use it remotely should keep in mind that bandwidth limitations of your home Internet uplink will most likely reduce the picture quality when you access the system remotely.
The SlingPlayer seemed to already know about the remote control for our Dish Network DVR, and once I configured my input sources and activated the hardware online it was all ready to go.
I’m very pleased with the attention to design in the player software. Cursor up and down keys control the psuedo-remote, and thus the satellite receiver. Spacebar is mapped to OK or Select. It’s well done.
The images are not Hi Def, but they are a lot better than you’ll ever see on a standard TV. The codec they are using has been well tuned. Have a look at some of the screenshots.
We’re favorably impressed with the Slingobox and will give it 4 stars. We could get that up to 5 with just a slightly higher resolution, like 720p.
[tags]Slingbox, Sling Media, Slingplayer for Mac, TV on Mac, Reviews, HDTV, HDTV PC, OS X, Power Mac[/tags]