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Review: Watch your favorite TV shows, anywhere, with Slingbox

Before, television was the center of attention in a Brazilian house. Today, without a doubt, computers, tablets and smartphones have taken on the main role, leaving TV as an adjunct. But even with this migration, television still has its value in person, I follow football games, some TV series, films, newspapers and other programs.

The biggest problem with the television concept, in my view, is the need to have to sit on the couch or lie in bed here at home, there are two televisions, one in the living room and one in the bedroom to follow the program. On the other hand, computers (notebooks), tablets and smartphones can go with us wherever we go. How about, then, mix this mobile convenience with TV? This is the proposal of the Slingbox: with it, we can watch TV programming on computers, tablets and smartphones, regardless of where we are, just having an internet connection.

Slingbox

Slingbox is a device that allows you to watch your pay TV anywhere in the world through your smartphone, tablet, Mac or PC with it, you no longer need to be stuck at home to watch your favorite TV shows. Whether on the road, at work, or on a trip, you can watch and control your home TV remotely from anywhere, anytime.

For me, Slingbox fell like a glove for two reasons: 1. I am one of those who accompanies Flamengo wherever my team's game is going and I'm on the street or traveling, that desperation hits; 2. Sometimes my wife wants to sleep (ie, turn off the TV) and I am still watching a show / movie. Now just get my iPad, my headphones and the problem solved. Below you can see more of my experience.

The boring part: installation and configuration

I do not classify myself as a layman on the subject, quite the contrary, but I confess that I had trouble installing Slingbox.

Front Slingbox

The model sold in Brazil is the Slingbox 350, but there is also the model 500. Both transmit in Full HD (1080p) resolutions, have Ethernet ports (for connection to the modem / router), component video and RCA audio, but only the model 500 has Wi-Fi (802.11n), an HDMI port, remote control, among other things in this link you can see a comparison between the set-top boxes.

Slingbox cables

Inside the Slingbox 350 box we have the device itself, a quick guide (PDF), a bivolt power supply (100-240V), a component video cable, a composite video cable, a stereo audio cable, a cable network cable and an infrared emitter cable (blaster).

Back slingbox

The box can be connected to a cable / satellite TV decoder, DVR (digital video recorder) provided by your cable / satellite TV provider, DVD or Blu-ray Disc player / recorder and even security cameras.

Slingbox configuration

Making connections between my carrier's decoder and the Slingbox was very simple, just follow the information in the quick guide. After everything is properly connected (Ethernet cable, component video cable, stereo audio cable and power supply) you need to open the browser, enter the Slingbox website, download their plugin and start configuring the device. In this part I came across the first problem: finding my model of virtual remote control / decoder in the huge list of compatible devices.

My operator is NET, but my decoder is not listed under the NET brand. After a few minutes of searching, I found the information on the Slingbox support page and came across the answer: my decoder manufactured by Pace and, therefore, is not listed in ?NET?.

After that I thought everything would be perfect and working, but no. Despite having sound, the image was black. My decoder was connected to the TV via an HDMI cable and, while I was setting up everything on the browser, I came across the message below:

Problems with HDMI - Slingbox

When I clicked ?Yes?, a new screen appeared asking me to disconnect the HDMI cable from my television and replace it with a component video cable. The reason for that? Briefly according to a Slingbox support article, some decoders have a copy protection system called HDCP (high bandwidth digital content protection).

What he does? It simply detects that the digital information is passing through a digital connection, such as the HDMI connection. It then interferes with passing information from any other connection to any other device. This, of course, prevents the proper signal from reaching the Slingbox, consequently ending up with all the experience that the product offers. The solution is to connect the TV decoder using a component video cable, leaving HDMI aside.

It is worth noting that, although the cable has a perfect image quality, they do not have integrated audio, you also need to connect a set of red and white (or orange, if you have a digital audio connection) cables to the audio inputs.

After the change, the configuration went like this: the component video cables and stereo audio come out of the decoder and go to the Slingbox; other component video and stereo audio cables come out of the Slingbox and go to the TV. After everything was connected, I went back to the computer, followed the configuration step-by-step and finally managed to make everything work!

If you happen to be facing some other type of problem in the configuration of your Slingbox, know that the company's support is very good! In addition to clearing up basic doubts on the website, you can also chat with them via online chat, email, phone and even request a technical visit if you live in Greater So Paulo.

Applications

To watch your TV program on your computer, simply go to the Slingbox website and click on ?Watch? or go directly to the URL newwatch.slingbox. I even suggest saving it to your favorites, making it easier to access in the future.

Now on iPads and iPhones / iPods touch you need to download and buy apps available on the App Store.


SlingPlayer for iPad app icon


SlingPlayer for iPhone app icon

The company decided to launch separate apps for iGadgets (instead of creating a universal) and charge $ 15 for each one. In a superficial analysis we can think that this is nothing more than a greedy attitude. On the other hand, they could have simply incorporated that $ 30 into the price of the product, even making people who watch programming on their computers pay for the price of the app.

The issue of not creating a universal app (that is, a single app compatible / optimized for iPads and iPhones / iPods touch) can also be seen in two different ways: to profit more from individual app sales (forcing consumers to buy both ) or to simply allow a person who only has an iPad, for example, to purchase only the app that interests them, spending less by imagining, of course, that if the company had just launched a universal app it would probably cost $ 30.

On Google Play, the story is the same: there are two apps available, one for tablets and one for smartphones (each costing R $ 33.16).

Using the Slingbox

Using the Slingbox is very easy. If you don't want to download the apps, just enter the URL newwatch.slingbox.

Unsigned Slingbox

If your decoder is turned off, there is no video signal. But don't despair, just turn on the decoder. No, you don't have to get up from wherever you are to turn it on; click on the remote control cone and call from there. Now just pretend you're facing the TV.

Slingbox remote control

If you don't want to keep the control taking up a huge space on the screen, know that you can change the channel using the selector that is there in the lower right corner, just below the screen.

Another cool feature is the possibility to add / remove guests (that cone on the left side of the remote). That's right, you can invite a friend or family member to access your Slingbox, but be aware that that person can only watch when you're not using your Slingbox.

Mode

But for me the best way to watch on the computer by clicking on the icon "Popup player", which places the transmission in a floating window, making things easier for those who want to do two or more things at the same time. There is also the option to put everything in full screen (last icon at the top, from left to right).

At the bottom of the screen are the settings (here we change the screen format and quality), a ?capped? remote control, volume control, options for those who have a decoder with a recorder (in my case) and the already mentioned access quick to the channels.

Although I like the option "Popup player", I prefer to use my iPad mini as a TV.

Slingbox on iPad

One thing that is not very intuitive in the iPad app is the connection issue. When you open it, it is ?frozen? in this screen above. You need to tap the ?Connecting? button so that the connection to the Slingbox is actually established, which doesn't make much sense.

Slingbox on iPad

Once the connection is made, the interface is basically the same as that found on the web; at the top we have icons that allow us to change the quality of the transmission, access to the menu and programming guide, quick channel selector and, of course, the option to show / hide the remote control.

Slingbox on iPad

On the buttons at the bottom of the screen we have access to the settings. There is not much to change there, but one thing I highly recommend: go to ?General? and activate the option ?Connect automatically?. That way, you no longer need to touch ?Connecting? every time you open the app.

Another setting that you may want to change the quality of the video I prefer to leave everything on automatic, here.

I have to confess one thing: from time to time the reproduction makes me choke, but this is much more of a problem with my internet connection than with the way Slingbox optimizes everything. Currently I have a connection of 30Mbps, but it turns and moves it has some problem and does not reach even a third of it. Not to mention that the upload speed is very low, which also gets in the way as Slingbox sends the data (upload) so I can watch everything (download) in the browser or on iGadget.

Connection speed required by Slingbox

Click / tap to enlarge. For more information, check out this support article.

Out of the house, both on a 10Mbps Wi-Fi connection and via 3G, my tests were successful and I was able to see my TV programming without problems. But don't bet that everything will work properly when you're on the street, after all, our 3G / 4G is far from reliable.

The Slingbox is great for those who travel a lot, but perfect for home, too. At the beginning of the review I described a very typical scenario, in which my wife wants to sleep and I want to continue watching a series / movie. But besides that, it?s very common for me to put the iPad on my side while I?m working to watch a football match (put the Champions League and Brazilian Championship games on the cake), which is much better than having to go to the room and sit on the sofa with the notebook on your lap.

Obviously I am describing a very particular scenario, but it is quite possible that you have your quirks / preferences and the chances of Slingbox meeting your particularities are very large.

Where to buy?

The product is sold at Submarino, Americanas and Shoptime for R $ 799.00 (or up to 12 times of R $ 66.58) if you want to pay cash, Submarino offers 10% discount, falling to R $ 719, 10.

If you live in So Paulo, you can buy and see the product working at the iFix store (Avenida Paulista, 2.001, stores 55 and 59). It is worth noting that only products purchased in Brazil have a warranty and free technical support for one year.