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My Surface PRO 3 'Must Have' Accessories List

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

SlingBox, another expensive gadget

If you have a broadband Internet connection at home and you are an often traveler you should think about buying a SlingBox ($187). I do not travel a lot but I do have at work the possibility of having SlingBox working streaming video and from time to time I switch to it to take a look of what is going on. And now that the FIFA World Cup is in progress the SlingBox has been my favorite gadget. Installing the SlingBox is something very easy, basically you plug it between your source of video and your TV. The SlingBox is armed with an IR transmitter and it's connected via an Ethernet card to your home network. That allows you to control the SlingBox that has two basic functions: stream video and serve as IR Control Remote. In my case, I installed the SlingBox in my bedroom where I have my TiVo; the problem is that my WiFi Router with Internet Connection is in another room. To go around this problem I bought a Powerline Newtworking Kit with Two Homeplug Wall Mount Bridge from Amazon for just 67 dollars. The same kit but from SlingMedia cost around 200 dollars. And here is a tip, probably when you connect your SlingBox using these adaptors it wont get an IP from your router automatically. To fix that I connected the SlingBox to my Router and ran the Setup Wizard from there. Of course I did not have any video running but once I reconnected the SlingBox back in my room all I had to do is to run the Video Wizard.

The video quality within the Home Network is "SUPER". I can stream video at 1500 kbps via WiFi in my eo V7110. This picture does not look as good as it's in the reality, but if you take a look you can see clearly the details in the bar with the score of the game. The video quality when I use SlingPlayer windowed is compare with what I see in my HDTV. The eo works stable at 600 MHz with a CPU Utilization of around 55 to 60%, that's is good enough to let me run Outlook and some other little tools to take care of my business having the SlingPlayer working in background or just paused.

At 800x480 you get a lot better picture than if you run SlingPlayer at any other resolution. Now, I'm sure that your main question is how it fits in that small resolution. This second picture (out of focus, sorry guys) gives you an idea of how it fit in an Origami Screen. I found that the player but it self and the remote control screen works fine at 800x480. The only screens that made me switch to 800x600 where Settings or when you want to add a favorite Channel to the Channel Bar at the bottom of SlingPlayer. Those screens get cut at the bottom and you can hit the OK button to apply changes.

I usually work in my bed with my laptop and lately with my eo V7110 all time. And I like to turn on the TV to heard and from time to time take a rest from what I'm doing and look at the TV Screen to see what is going on in my pre recorded programs (Thanks TiVo!). Well, the SlingBox is helping me to save some energy by leaving the TV off and opening SlingPlayer in my eo!

But how the SlingBox works when you are not at home? Until today I was very happy with my Broadband Internet Connection and provider BellSouth. I have a 1500 kbps plan that was fast enough for me. Until now that I found that they are giving me 1500 kbps downloading but just only 256 uploading. In the reality in my speed tests at home all I get is 218 kbps uploading and that's exactly what I get at work in SlingPlayer. Of course the quality at 218 kbps is almost 7 times worse that what I get in my home network. But as you can see from this picture it still good enough and it's not choppy at all. It's good enough for following news, a soccer game but the quality is not that good to watch a movie and of course, no recommended at all for a full screen viewing. So this is something that you should check with your Internet provider before you buy one of this.

SlingMedia is currently working in a version of SlingPlayer for SmartPhone which beta is available for download. I have a Cingular 2125 EDGE and I tested it. If you are in South Florida, you are a Cingular Client and you have an EDGE phone, forget it; do not waste your money buying the SP version of the SlingPlayer. The speed you get with EDGE/Cingular is not fast enough for a good quality video with SlingPlayer. SlingMedia has a version also for Pocket PC that unfortunately I have not tested yet but according to some reviews that I have read it works very well too.

In general I'm very pleased with SlingBox. But... (There is always a BUT) I find the price of 250 dollars excessive and if I would not have found the deal at amazon for only 187 dollars (plus the Ethernet Adaptors deal) I would not have bought it. Just take a pencil and lets do some calculations, SlingMedia wants to charge you 250 dollars for the SlingBox, 100 dollars for each Ethernet Adaptor to use your power line at home, that's 200 dollars more and on top of that if you have a SmartPhone and a Pocket PC, it charges you 30 dollars for each copy of the player. So you can easily end with 510 dollars less in your bank account. Come On, the SlingBox is good but not that good. I find unbelievable that after clients pay that high price for the hardware they have to pay for the different player versions, those should be free. Keep in mind that if you gave users the possibility of using the SlingPlayer at their phones and PPCs for free they are going to use them everywhere they can and they will attract people that eventually will think about buying a SlingBox for their self. I hope that SlingMedia reconsiders this point.

Update: One of our readers pointed me that he was getting a very good playback in his SP using EDGE. I went did a little research a little bit of tunning and... Tat ta ta ta! The Sling Player works find in SP using EDGE!