Slingbox 500

The Good The Slingbox 500 streams video from your TV or DVR (or any analog source) to your PC, tablet, smartphone, and some streaming boxes at resolutions up to full 1080p HD. IR blasters are built into the box’s body, eliminating the need for annoying extra external wires. There are no monthly charges or fees. Unlike the step-down Slingbox 350 model, this one adds Wi-Fi and HDMI support, as well as the ability to stream photos and videos from Android phones and iPhones.

The Bad At close to $300, it's fairly expensive. Smartphone- and tablet-viewing apps cost extra. It duplicates some of the features found on TV anywhere apps you may already be using. As always, streaming capabilities are only as good as your home bandwidth.

The Bottom Line While you'll pay a premium for its extra features, the Slingbox 500 is an excellent way to watch your TV or DVR video content anywhere.

Editors' Rating
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 9.0
8.5 Overall

Compare

Slingbox 500
Slingbox 500
Sony UBP-X800
Sony UBP-X800
Samsung BD-J5900
Samsung BD-J5900
Samsung UBD-K8500
Samsung UBD-K8500
Sony BDP-S3700
Sony BDP-S3700
Price $300 Amazon.com $200 Dell Home $86 Amazon.com $130 Amazon Marketplace $75 Dell Home
Design
8
8
7
7
7
Features
9
9
8
9
8
Performance
9
8
9
8
7

Review

Worth it for the Wi-Fi

Before there were "TV everywhere" apps, there was the Slingbox, a groundbreaking product that allowed you to stream your home TV signals to any PC or connected device on the planet, so long as you had the available bandwidth. After something of a hiatus -- there haven't been any new Sling products since 2008's Slingbox Pro-HD -- new Slingbox hardware was finally been released in fall 2012: the Slingbox 350 ($180) and the Slingbox 500 ($300, reviewed here).

As with past Slingbox models, the boxes digitize video streams from your cable/satellite box (or DVR) and stream them in real time to a wide variety of devices: Windows PCs and Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android phones, Android tablets (including the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD), Windows phones, and even some home devices, such as the Boxee Box, Logitech Revue, and WD TV Live. There's no monthly fee, but the mobile apps cost a pricey $14.99; that's down from the previously exorbitant $29.99 price, but it's still an added cost that should be reduced to zero -- or close to it. (The streaming software on the PC and Mac is via a free browser plug-in, and the home-streaming device apps are free as well.)

Both new Slingbox models add full 1080p video streaming, upping the lesser VGA and 720p resolutions found on the now-discontinued, 2008-era Slingbox Solo and Slingbox Pro-HD. But the step-up 500, reviewed here, is a larger box with a wavelike design that offers a few extras not found in the 350. Since the two models performed equally well in our tests, I'm not going to rehash what my fellow CNET editor, John Falcone, said in his thorough review of the 350.

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