Today we’re looking at the Slingbox 500 from Sling Media. The Slingbox family of products effectively allows anywhere anytime connectivity to your home entertainment setup as long as you have an internet connection. This means PC, Mac, Tablets, Smartphones or a connected TV with a Slingbox app. In addition to your TV setup, you can also wirelessly view the videos and photos on your home network from any of the devices mentioned above.
Thank you again to Sling Media for supplying their product for review.
Main advantage: Connects to your DVR, cable box, or satellite receiver through HDMI, component, or composite sources. Built in Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection. Set up is easy enough and done on screen. Works well.
Main concern: price, apps are not included (more money), when using the mock on screen controller delay is very noticeable
Unique features: This is one of the few products on the market that offers this functionality. Tablet app gives a full graphic copy of the remote you use. Directv remote for me.
How much: $299.99 from Slingbox.com
Alternatives: Monsoon’s Vulkano and Belkin’s @TV systems
Is it worth buying: Slingbox has made a name for themselves as the leader in this market. The product works but it is expensive. The fact that they don’t include a download code or some way to get the companion app is just greedy. That aside, it works very well. If you need this functionality, buy this with confidence.
The first thing that hits you when you see the Slingbox 500 is the “innovative” shape. It tries to look as if a rectangular box was twisted in all directions from its center axis. It does look nice but boy is it awkward. We live in a world of electronic boxes upon boxes upon boxes. The Slingbox 500 does not play well in that world. It demands to be at the top of the heap and I don’t like my hand forced in this regard. It comes with its own small remote which is small and functional. The buttons have a great tactile feel and a satisfying click which feels good in the hand, but might seriously annoy your partner in bed at night (especially during the setup process). The setup is simple and intuitive, but typing with the onscreen keyboard is more annoying and tedious than most things in life. Save yourself the headache and setup online then you only need to sign in. After setup, the issue is how to consume your newly functioning system. Use any PC or Mac to go to slingbox.com and you can download a browser plugin that lets you watch instantly. In the web app, as well as the tablet app for iPad or Android, you get a full graphic copy of your preferred remote. In my case, the iconic gray Directv remote. All the buttons work in accordance with the original. There is about a 2-3 second delay after each button press so beware. Also, realize that this functionality means that you are seeing on your app exactly what’s on your screen at home. This means that if you’re in a hotel room in Beijing and your spouse is at home in Arizona watching TV as well, when you change to watch cartoons, she has to watch cartoons as well. Or maybe just judge your viewing choices. The slingbox does NOT have to be connected to a tv to work though. Taking that into consideration, some people actually get an extra cable box from their cable/satellite provider and dedicate it to the slingbox so they won’t interrupt their loved ones. There are separate apps for smartphones and tablets on Apple and Android devices. This is where the catch shows itself… you have to pay an additional $15 fee to purchase the app of your choice. For a device that costs $300 this is frankly and to the point, not acceptable. A premium device like the slingbox needs to not focus on nickel and diming the customer. You can also stream to up to 4 devices at a time, though you might see a breakdown in quality if you do so. Also consider that each of these devices will need to purchase the app. Think long and hard before deciding on the version of the Slingbox that’s right for you. The more modestly priced Slingbox 350 ($120 less) looks much better in my opinion and it offers most of the same functionality of the 500, but you will lose some great features.
The following features are only available in the 500:
· Built In Wi-Fi
· Video Out / TV Interface (On-Screen Setup, Personal Media Viewing)
· Remote Control Unit
· Remote Viewing of Local Digital Content / Personal Media
· Personal Media Viewing on TV
· SlingSync & SlingProjector
The competitors do come in at lower price points, but they don’t have the reputation of Slingbox. If you need something that just works and you’re prepared to pay for that convenience, a Slingbox product is right for you.
ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!