CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW: CNET editors cover the Next Big Thing
Slingbox puts TV content on your notebook
January 6, 2005; 3:15 p.m.
The product: A network add-on from newcomer Sling Media will enable TV fans to view their content wirelessly from any notebook in the home or on the road. The device, called the Slingbox, redirects live TV as well as TV content recorded on PVRs to anywhere a broadband connection is available.
A common scenario for using the Slingbox might be to view live TV on a notebook anywhere in a wirelessly connected home. Or you could watch recorded or local television while traveling, at a Starbucks, or anywhere a fast connection is available.
The device works with a cable box, a satellite TV receiver, or a PVR.
Slingbox comprises a hardware device that also connects to a home router, plus a software client that's installed on the notebook. Later in the year, Sling Media plans to add clients for Wi-Fi-enabled PDAs and third-generation cell phones.
The Slingbox imports the analog signal, then digitizes and compresses the video using Microsoft's Media 9.0 format. Proprietary quality-of-service software enables users to optimize the video frame rates to match Internet throughput. The video quality isn't something you'd want to project on a plasma TV; it's just a little better than the quality of streaming Web videos.
Also keep in mind:
The prospects: The Slingbox is a very cool way to distribute live TV and recorded content around the house or around the world, without adding hardware such as TV tuner cards. The downside is that video quality is a little choppy. But there is no additional monthly fee, and it's a great way to make the most of your cable TV subscription and your PVR.
By Rik Fairlie, editor, Computer Shopper
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