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Sling Media Slingbox SoloThe Slingbox Solo is our top home theater gift for 2008, as it's an excellent way to stream your home TV programming to an increasingly wide variety of broadband-connected computers and smartphones.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:08 >> Watch your living room TV or DVR in any room of the house, or anywhere else in the world where you can access the Internet. I'm John Falcone from CNET.com, and we're taking an in-depth look at the Slingbox SOLO, the device that can stream your home TV anywhere. The box itself is basically just a black brick with inputs and outputs. Once you set it up, it's sits between your cable or satellite box and your TV and digitizes all of your programming so it's available remotely over the Internet. Setup is as easy and straightforward as we've seen for a network device. Just plug into your home network, run the setup wizard on a windows or Mac computer, and you're ready to go. Once the Slingbox SOLO is up and running, it allows you to access your home TV as if you were sitting in the same room, even if you're in another room of the house or halfway around the world. The on-screen remote lets you change the channels and view the on-screen program guide and if the Slingbox is connected to a DVR, you have full access to all of your recorded programs as well. The latest version of the Windows SlingPlayer software also includes it's own on-screen program guide in a 60 minute buffer so you can pause and rewind live TV programming even if you don't have a DVR. When watching over the Internet, you'll usually get YouTube level quality -- not ideal, but very watchable. If you're watching within a home network, using a laptop in the bedroom to access the living room TV, for instance, video can approach DVD quality and generally looks excellent. The other cool thing about the Slingbox is that the PC isn't your only viewing option. SlingPlayer software is also available for most 3G compatible Windows Mobile, Palm, and Symbian smartphones for a small, one-time fee. A BlackBerry version of the software is due soon as well. Sling also offers the SlingCatcher, a device that lets you watch Slingbox content on other TVs as well. As for drawbacks and caveats, there are a few. The Slingbox has no Wi-Fi, so you need to provide a wired Ethernet connection. We'd recommend a powerline adaptor if you don't have a nearby wired connection. Also, the Slingbox SOLO is a single tuner device. In other words, if you access the Slingbox remotely and someone else is already watching your TV, you'll both be forced to watch the same thing. And only one viewer can access the Slingbox at a time. So don't expect to share a baseball game with a bunch of your closest friends in different parts of the world. Those issues not withstanding, we still think the Slingbox is the best way to place shift your TV viewing. It's a great gift for TV lovers who are always on the road or would like to access their living room DVR in other rooms of the house. I'm John Falcone for CNET, and this is the Slingbox SOLO. ^M00:02:56 [ Music ]