on 13 July 2010
I have been a Sling user for over 6 years now - traveling a lot with my job and having my Sky box liberated so I can view it anywhere in the world with a decent internet connection has been a life saver. However, I would warn other potential buyers that this product *can* be highly temperamental and also very unreliable. Over the years I have had 2 Slingbox Classics and 3 Singbox Pro's - original and then warranty replacements, as well as a replaced power supply and IR cables. When it works it is brilliant - when it doesn't - or when it goes wrong outside of the 2 year warranty, as mine just has, there is NO repair service available - so you either have to bin it or fork out for a new one. Sadly there is no comparable product on sale, so even though I loathe the fact that Sling just don't care that they sell such unreliable products I have no choice but to spend another £150 on a replacement and hope and pray it lasts longer than 2 years, otherwise the cost of ownership of this product is much higher than the purchase price alone would have you believe. Approach with caution advised.
Update June 2012 - my replacement Slingbox failed - fortunately just within its 2 year warranty, so Sling sent me a 'refurbished' replacement. That didnt work either, so they sent me a new power supply which has done the trick - for now. Looking at the forums, it seems that the power supply (plug) failing is one of the most common problems with this unit, so if yours has gone wrong outside of the warranty, you might want to try replacing this first - at a cost of around £15. Another problem involves internal cheap capacitor failing and the connection to the router failing via the network port. These are much harder to fix unless you are good with a soldering iron! There are some YouTube videos of users who have had a go if you are that way inclined.
I am pretty sure Sling are aware of the failings of their box, but I have no idea why they just don't seem to care. A great product when it works - a loathsome one when it fails outside of warranty!
on 11 March 2008
I bought one of these just before Christmas as we were off to the in-laws in Spain for New Year, and I wanted to be able to watch our TV there (they only have basic Sky and I didn't want to miss the football!)
I spent a while playing about with Orb (a piece of freeware software that does the same thing) on my Media Cente PC, but I couldn't get it to work properly with my tuner card and Virgin V+ box. My brother in law (who works for a company that installs expensive AV kit in expensive houses), recommended Slingbox as they had one.
I decided to bite the bullet and got one, and, I have to say, I wish I had done before.
It litterally took 10 minutes to get working and it was very easy. You connect the Slingbox video input to the SCART output of the cable box - it comes with all the cables included. You can then connect your TV to the Slingbox video output sockets or to the thru SCART connector on the cable they supply.
It also has inputs (and outputs) on the Pro box for component video and I hear HDMI is coming too (but wasn't on mine).
You need to connect the Slingbox to your home network using a RJ45 cable - be careful because even though the spiel on the box implies the Slingbox is wireless, it's not unless you buy the additional wireless bit.
There is a little remote control sender thing that you need to put near the remote receiver of your cable / satelite box - this is how you change the channels from the PC.
You then download the software from their website onto your PC or laptop, it finds the Slingbox on your network and configures it - mine required a firmware update which it did itself. You need to tell it what type of satelite or cable TV receiver you have and make sure it emulates the remote control properly - it's all a breeze.
Then you just start watching - it fully supports all the NTL, Telewest and Virgin cable TV boxes so as long as you tell it the correct set top box, you get the correct virtual remote control on the PC screen (for the black V+ box you need to choose Telewest TVDrive).
The picture quality on my home network is amazing - I can't wait for the new Slingcatcher box to come out so I can connect my bedroom TV to one and watch all my cable channels upstairs (and more).
The best bit is watching over the net. Even out in Spain, on a 512MB ADSL connection being used by other people, the picture was very watchable, but on a small screen like a mobile or PDA, it looks crystal clear (the mobile / PDA software is an extra cost download from their website).
Personally, I can't recommend this highly enough - from what I have seen of Sonys Location Free Player (which I did fancy because I'm a bit of a Sony fan), this wipes the floor with it.
My only gripe is that, because Virgin disable the SCART sockets on the V+ box when you use HDMI to your TV (like we normally do), it means I have to manually switch the Virgin box back to SCART everytime I want to use the Slingbox. I'm told Virgin will be fixing this in the next release of the V+ software due any day now.
I had a Sony LocationFree system which, like the SlingBox, is supposed to wirelessly stream video form your TV or Sky box around the house so you can watch TV anywhere as long as you have a spare laptop. Further, and, more importantly to me, the system allows access to your TV to laptops or portable devices around the world using your broadband connection.
The LocationFree was a complete disaster. After much fiddling I got it to work at home but away from home only a couple of times and I gave up on it completely after a time. Sony support were also useless.
Hence I was reluctant to buy the SlingBox but the reviews were good and it's half the price of the Sony system. Out of the box within 10 minutes it was streaming video from my Sky box around the house. Setting the SlingBox to work remotely away from the home was a little more complex but the online instructions sorted this after a couple of hours.
So now I can watch my Sky+ system anywhere in the world where I have a broadband or 3G phone connection. It's completely reliable and works with Mac machines as well - good as I have one. Picture quality at home - on a PC for example, is excellent as it's not really limited by bandwidth there. When you're away you rely on the broadband suppliers UPLOAD speed. Whereas downloads are the figures normally quoted by internet providers - simply because you mostly download information over the internet - the SlingBox uploads TV pictures over the net. The figures are upload are much slower - about 350kbs. This impacts on the picture quality but it's still certainly good enough to watch. Also over time upload speeds will improve and so will the picture. Further, a well developed remote control already allows you complete functional control over our TV or Sky system.
The downside of the product is that you have to pay extra for software which will stream pictures to your mobile phone and the SlingBox needs to be physically cabled to a broadband modem. You can't establish a wireless link to the SlingBox to your broadband modem. Your SlingBox also needs to be next to your TV and/or Sky system. The lack of wireless links must be due to a tech problem. However, SlingMedia do sell a system to use your house electric cables to link from a modem plugged in to the SlingBox plugged in. I didn't need to do this as my broadband modem is by the TV.
Overall this is an excellent product. If you travel on business or go on holiday and want to watch TV from home you can do it. It's a bit strange sitting in sydney at 8pm at night watching the BBC morning news though!
on 20 September 2008
I have Virgin Cable with Setanta Sports package, but could I get to watch it when kids hog the main TV on a Saturday afternoon, no!
So I looked at one of these Slingbox's as way of possibly helping, and help it has! The kids can now happily watch a DVD in front of the main TV, and now I can watch Setanta on my wireless laptop in the other room.
Picture quality from the Slingbox is great on the laptop and I can change channels on my Virgin Box remotely should I want to. It was fairly easy to setup too. The Slingbox does need to be close to your INTERNET router though, as the Solo itself doesn't have any wireless facility. I had to buy a slightly longer network cable from PC World to hook it up (just around a fiver), because the one in the box just wasn't quite long enough, but after doing this and connecting it to my router the instructions were fairly straightforward. You download the Slingbox software from the internet, it configures your router for you automatically allowing you to control the Slingbox from anywhere, so no need to mess about with any router settings.
Once you have set it up in your home, you can control the Virgin Box from anywhere that has an internet connection.
I've been at a friends house and watched Setanta from their's on my laptop using their wireless connection. (They obviously had to give me their wireless key first so I could use their home wireless of course!) but after that it worked at treat! If you want flexibility to watch TV or Digital anywhere, get this product!
on 23 August 2010
The beauty of the Slingbox is that its whole concept is very simple, yet brilliant. Just connect your TV source to the Slingbox, in my case a Sky+ box, plug the Slingbox into a network connection, install the SlingPlayer software on a networked PC, then enjoy watching Sky on that PC, delivered by the Slingbox. Setup couldn't be more simple, the instruction manual provided is nothing more than a tiny leaflet, so anyone who dislikes reading manuals has nothing to worry about, setup is a breeze!
The Slingbox Solo comes with a SCART connection to connect to a Sky box and Sling Media have thoughtfully made it a pass-thru SCART connection. This means the Slingbox doesn't monopolise the SCART connection and allows another SCART cable to be piggy-backed onto it.
I have tested connecting to the Slingbox using every way possible - Cat5e Ethernet, wireless, homeplug, and over the internet. I can report that performance is excellent and even over the internet, where bandwidth is limited, Sky is watchable, though there are quite a few dropped frames so don't expect a smooth framerate. The best viewing experience is, unsurprisingly, via Cat5e. The picture and audio are very smooth with no dropped frames to the point where you'd never know you were watching via a Slingbox.
Because the Sky box I was using was in a bedroom with no Cat5e cabling, I instead connected the Slingbox to an 85Mbps Homeplug, so the Slingbox was effectively sending Sky over the house's power lines. One again, frame rates were excellent, not as smooth as Cat5e, which is to be expected, but still very impressive and gave a very smooth viewing experience. Connecting via 802.11g wireless was also very good, there were more dropped frames than with the Homeplug solution, but it was still more than watchable.
There is one 'gotcha' with this product than none of the other reviewers have commented on but I feel any potential purchaser needs to know. The Slingbox does not support multi-user viewing, only 1 person can connect to the Slingbox at a time. So if you're watching Sky via the Slingbox, then someone else in the house wants to watch Sky via the same Slingbox, you will be automatically kicked off the Slingbox session as soon as the other person connects.
This is a slightly annoying limitation as it means if you have Sky in an upstairs bedroom, and were hoping to, say, enable your kids in 2 other bedrooms to access Sky via the Slingbox, the kids will need to negotiate who watches it, and take turns. So if one kid is watching Sky in their bedroom, as soon as another of your kids in a different bedroom tries to watch Sky via the Slingbox, they will take over the Slingbox session and the person who was originally watching will get a "you've been disconnected" message. The only way to allow 2 people at the same time to watch Sky via a Slingbox is to buy another Slingbox, bummer!
Personally I think it's slightly mean of Sling Media not to support multi-user viewing as it surely wouldn't require much tweaking of their SlingPlayer software to allow this. Because of this limitation I've knocked a star off my overall rating, but nonetheless this is still a very impressive piece of technology that works extremely well even on low bandwidth connections, so overall I still recommend this product.
on 2 October 2008
I found this quite simple to set up, thanks to the step-by-step instructions with photos. Couldn't quite get it to work with my internet connection though, so I called the number provided (a 'normal' number too, not an expensive 0891 or 0870 one). Three minutes later the helpful support person had it up and running for me.
I'd say this is very useful if you travel regularly or live abroad and want to watch the TV you're used to, especially sport and soaps.
The only thing to consider before you buy is the upload speed of the internet connection you'll be using at the Slingbox end of things. Make sure it's over 600 or so kbps and you should be fine. If in doubt, use an online speed tester (Google can help you find one) or ask your internet provider.
on 14 December 2007
My Sony all-in-one Desktop had built in analog TV tuner and I could watch Sky Plus on it using Sky Link. When it broke beyond repair I bought one of the latest iMacs and I wanted to be able to watch Sky Plus on it but the USB tuner that supported Sky Plus was really expensive. I decided to buy a Slingbox Solo and connected it to my Sky Plus box and my Netgear Router and within half an hour I was able to stream everything on my Sky Plus to my iMac and to my Laptop. It is very simple to set up and means I can control my Sky Plus box and watch Sky or any recordings wherever I have a 3G / Broadband connection.
The only difference between the Slingbox Pro and the Slingbox Solo appears to be the number of inputs it supports and I can't see the point of being able to control more than Sky Plus.
on 28 November 2009
Before posting this review I wanted to wait and try all the features that I would use. The result - 5 stars!
I had a couple of problems initially with this:
1. The picture was greenish and showed shadows, i.e. ghost images. After a little digging in the forum, I found out all I had to do was go in the Settings and disable VMR - et voila, perfect picture!
2. I couldn't find the correct model for my satellite box, and therefore the remote didn't work. I found no help for this in the forums, as one of the guys there told me that he had failed in the past to create a remote for my box. Desperate, I emailed Support to report this, hoping that they would support it in the future. Well, Support replied the next day with the correct settings to use for my box, and again problem solved! Now I have a remote.
So everything works. Configuration is straightforward and remote viewing is even easier... All you have to do is create an account and install the Sling Player. When remote, just login and the previously configured Slingbox will just appear, i.e. no additional configuration is required on the remote computer. Brilliant! Very happy...
on 25 October 2010
I nw live just outside London and my TV reception for channels such as ITV, ITV4, Film 4 etc was poor/non-existent. So I installed a Slingbox at a family member's place in the northwest of England. If there is something I want to watch and it keeps breaking up (unwatchable) I can log into my remote slingbox and watch it from there if they are watching the same programme. Alternatively if they are watching something else, then I just record it remotely and watch later when they've gone to bed as I've got it connected to their BTVision box. This also means I can watch on demand tv and stuff recorded on the the BTVision box - including live football from espn. Setup was pretty easy - the only confusing bits I recall were puting the UK plug together (look on the plastic for help as its not in the instructions), and connection from my BTVision box to the Slingbox (the cable that gets plugged into the back of the Slingbox has a scart extender on the back and that's where you plug the other cable.) Watching isn't as clear as normal TV, but it is watchable and at least it doesn't keep breaking up like my normal telly which is unwatchable. I think there may be alternatives if you stay in one place and have poor reception - maybe freesat. In the past I've worked overseas and wish i had my Slingbox back then so I could have watched UK TV.
Unfortunately broke after 18 months and unfixable so at the price not a good deal.
on 27 November 2010
I travel a lot - in UK and globally with my work and it's frustrating not being able to watch TV. If I take a laptop with me, BBC iPlayer doesn't work abroad.
So I bought a Slingbox Solo (I've named mine Slinky).
I read the manual online before it arrived so it took about a minute to set up with the Sky box we have in the bedroom. It was a pain to set up with the Goodmans Freesat Plus box we have in the living room though - it wasn't on the list of devices to automatially choose. After a bit of searching online I managed to work out how to write my own and this took about an hour to find/sort. I'm not impressed as the model I have it on sale in all the stores.
Saying that it works fine now it's sorted, but I think a lot of people would have given up with their device not listed which is why only 4 stars.
We have no broadband connection where watch TV. So I connected it to our broadband using an 85 Mbps Home Plug which I already had to get iPlayer working on the freesat box. This works fine.
You can download software from their website onto your laptop which was easy to do.
I now use it for watching TV on the laptop in the kitchen, watching TV on the laptop with headphones on in the living room if her indoors is watching something else, for my 3 year old son to watch Cbeebies on anywhere (eg at the outlaws), for watching TV on the laptop in the bath (running on batteries only), and lastly for the reason I bought it - watching away from home.
Beware - if you change chanel when you are away and someone else is watching from that box it freaks them out a little...
I'm looking forward in the summer to use it to watch TV in the garden. The other thing I might do when travelling is to connect it to the Archos Plus TV which now has about 50 movies on it which I've filled up from our DVD collection at last. I'll probably have to write another "skin" for it but now I've done it once I'm not phased about what to do to teach it to understand the controls.
I've not bought an iPad yet - I'm waiting for Easter 2011 for the next version. When it comes, I'm guessing the app will make it a very expensive TV remote as well as being able to use that anywhere to watch TV :-) I already use the laptop now as a remote.
I've not bought the At Large Recorder 2 - this is software from a third party where you can record on your laptop via slingbox. My Freesat Plus box is what I use to record and I connect to that. But I could see it might be useufl for some people - I tried the free version and it works.