The Slingbox has arrived in the UK and has just been awarded Crave's unofficial title of 'best thing ever'. Forget the, this is huge.
The concept is simple: it lets you watch what's on your home television set from any Internet-connected PC anywhere in the world. You simply connect the Slingbox to your home network and its built-in digital and analogue tuners pipe Freeview or terrestrial TV over the Internet.
You can then access the video feed via the Slingplayer software from any broadband-connected PC, controlling your TV as if you were at home.
The Slingbox is shaped a bit like a chocolate bar and is extremely easy to install. We got the whole thing up and running within ten minutes over the weekend intending to watch Big Brother Live from our holiday home in Brighton. Unfortunately the weather was pants, so we stayed at home and watched Fifth Gear in the bath on a wireless laptop, thanks to Slingbox.
The video quality is comparable to mid-bandwidth video streams such as those from Yahoo's Launch music video service -- it's by no means perfect, but it's viewable, doesn't suffer from any 'buffering' lags and can be used in conjunction with set-top boxes such as those from Sky or Homechoice.
Sling Media, the company behind the device, says it will soon release a mobile version of the Slingplayer that lets you watch TV on a Windows Mobile handheld, which we'll try out in the next few days. We'll also let you know how it compares to Sony's LocationFree TV service after we put that through its paces tomorrow.
After one weekend, we can't recommend Slingbox enough. It's available from PC World as of today for £180. Watch out for a full review shortly. -RR
Update: a full review of the Sling Media Slingbox is now live.