The Good Streams home A/V sources to any broadband-connected Mac, Windows PC, Windows Mobile, or Palm Treo 700p device in the world; no host PC or monthly charges required; simple, straightforward setup; excellent, easy-to-use software; doesn't need a host video device, just an analog cable source; good video quality over LAN, decent video quality via the Internet.
The Bad Receives only analog cable TV signals; cell phone/PDA viewing software costs extra; no built-in wireless networking support; Palm viewing software works only on Treo 700p.
The Bottom Line The Slingbox Tuner lets you watch your home TV anywhere, but it's useful only for those who have a good basic cable lineup.
Sling Media Slingbox (2nd generation)
Editors' note: The Slingbox Tuner is no longer produced. It has been replaced by the Slingbox Pro-HD, which includes a built-in analog and digital tuner.
The Slingbox lets you watch your TV anywhere--anywhere, that is, that you can access a broadband Internet connection with a device that runs the company's SlingPlayer software. When it first hit the market in 2005, the SlingPlayer software could run only one platform: Windows XP computers. Windows 2000 compatibility was added soon after, and Windows Mobile devices--handhelds and smart phones--followed later. A long-promised Mac client debuted in the fall of 2006, and now Palm OS devotees can finally join the Sling party--if they have a Treo 700p smart phone. The Palm software provides yet another venue for users all of three Slingbox models--the Slingbox Tuner, the Slingbox A/V, and the Slingbox Pro--to watch their home TV programming. But only the high-end Slingbox Pro model supports multiple device inputs and the ability to accept HD video.
Slingbox and SlingPlayer: several choices
The original (model SB100-100) may not have been the first placeshifting device to hit the market, but it quickly became a favorite way for gadget fans to watch their favorite TV shows, regardless of their location. The company followed up in the fall of 2006 with a trio of second-generation models: the Slingbox Tuner ($180), the Slingbox A/V ($180), and the Slingbox Pro ($250). Each of the three models is targeted at TV viewers with different needs. The Slingbox Tuner accepts only analog cable TV signals and has just a single screw-type RF input. The Slingbox A/V, like the original model, can control any cable or satellite box and gets its video signals via composite or S-Video. And the Slingbox Pro does it all: It can accept as many as four A/V sources, including (with an adapter) HD video.