Slingbox Questions Answered

Everyone knows the hottest new technology and product in Consumer Electronics is Sling Media’s Slingbox. In fact, we’ve featured the Slingbox as a Gizmo of the Day back on September 21st, 2005 as well as several news articles on our site. Without first hand knowledge (YET!), there were a couple questions about the device the Geeks had.

With a trip to China planned this year, I have been concerned about my Internet activities abroad and if the “Great Firewall of China” would block viewing my television through Slingbox from hotels in Beijing and Ghuangzou. While designing around firewalls, Sling Media decided to make the network port configurable so people worried about a firewall not allowing their content to flow through could set the network port on the Slingbox to port 80 (the main web port) or 443 (the main secure web port). I’m still not sure if content inspecting firewalls will cause a problem though, but we were happy that at least Sling Media did not to lock the network port.

Read on to learn about the other questions that were answered.

Sling Media's Booth Another question that was answered during the presentation was about device support. With over 5,000 devices currently supported and more be added all the time, your devices should be compatible. I know at least my DirecTV TiVO is! HDTV is not supported (not surprising!).

Operating System support for the Slingbox’s client was also important to us. Currently only Microsoft Windows and Windows CE have Slingbox client support. Macintosh software is under development and Sling Media is currently gauging the market for a Linux client. Since the market for supporting Linux is currently unknown, there will not be a Linux client anytime soon.

Wondering Sling Media’s take on the Slingbox verses Sony’s Locationfree technology, Sling Media cites that users prefer their ease of setup and claim that latency is higher through the Sony product. Another difference is that Sling Media’s streams can only be seen on Windows devices (cell phones, PDAs, laptops, desktops and tablets) while Sony’s Locationfree media is streamed to the Sony Locationfree TVs and PSPs.

A closer inspection at the Slingbox reveals three inputs including S-video, coax and composite allowing you to control and view content from three separate sources from the client. The device encodes the data in the Slingbox, transmits the encoded and compressed data to your machine and the software (called Sling Player) decodes the audio/video stream. All of the representatives had Slingboxes hooked up at home that they were playing with and the audio/video streams were quite smooth and very watchable. This is one of the hottest booths at CES 2006 for a reason!