Monsoon Vulkano Flow review: Monsoon Vulkano Flow

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MSRP: $100.00

The Good The Vulkano Flow enables users to watch their home cable or satellite service over the Internet from anywhere on almost any computer or mobile platform. It also allows users to record content directly to a computer. It supports PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and BlackBerry platforms. The Flow also offers a Wi-Fi connection to a home router, unlike any placeshifting device we've seen before.

The Bad The Vulkano Flow provides no Web site access functionality unlike Sling. The Electronic Programming Guide isn't always reliable and we had the beta Mac version of the system's player crash on us a few times. We also wish it had HDMI ports and an editable port assignment for out-of-network access. The mobile apps cost extra, but nowhere near what Slingbox charges.

The Bottom Line While the experience isn't as polished as the Slingbox, the Vulkano Flow offers an impressive amount of streaming and recording features at an unbeatable price point.

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6.8 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

Slingbox has owned the video placeshifting market for the past five years, to the extent that such an act has been coined as "slinging" content. To the company's credit, there has been a steady amount of copycats to come and go, but the Vulkano Flow is easily one of the best.

While the experience is a bit clunkier than what Slingbox users might be used to, the Vulkano Flow does offer some additional features the Slingbox Solo doesn't like wireless access. It also beats the Solo in the pricing department, as the Flow can be had for just $100.

Setting up the Flow is certainly a little less polished than the Slingbox experience, but it's just as--if not more--functional. After attaching the device to a home network, the Vulkano software locates the Flow on the network and checks for the latest firmware (which updated quite a bit during our review process).

The installation wizard continues through various setup screens that configure video settings, set top box controls, and location information for the EPG, the system's built-in Electronic Programming Guide.

These settings also allow the user to dictate streaming resolutions and bitrates, a nice touch for the do-it-yourself power user. Here are also controls for the player's recording settings, for when users wish to record TV content to their computer.

Design and features
The Flow itself is 16 inches wide by 5 inches deep by 1 inch high and will take up a decent amount of room in a home theater setup. It's lightweight and plastic, and can feel flimsy when being held. We wish it had a more compact design, similar to that of the Solo, so that it wouldn't take up as much surface area.

The Flow itself is a bit wide, measuring 16 inches.

That aside, the Flow boasts passthrough composite and component video connections, though there aren't any HDMI ports. Around back also lie an Ethernet port, reset button, and IR blaster socket. The Flow can also work via a Wi-Fi signal, but we'd recommend a wired connection for the best performance.

There also seem to be a few dormant ports on the Flow, including an "RSVD" button, a USB port (that essentially has no purpose), an infrared IR window, and another slot covered by some electrical tape. The unit we received looked finished enough, but we can imagine that some of these outstanding items will be addressed for a proper retail release.

The Flow includes most of what's needed right out of the box, including composite and component wires, a 6-foot Ethernet cord, IR blaster, and power cord. Another composite or component wire will be required for passthrough.

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