Each new generation of the Slingbox, since 2008, gets a little bit better in terms of features. This time around, the lower-end model, the Slingbox 350, picked up 1080p quality and a slick hardware redesign. It can help you get more out of your monthly cable package — at $US179, is it worth it?
Australian Editor's Note: Neither the Slingbox 350 or the 500 will reach Australia until next year, but seeing as how that's just over a month away, we figured we'd go nuts and post this one now. You can always import one through a few back-channels, after all.
What Is It?
A Slingbox, then and now, streams TV from a cable box to your laptop, iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Those gadgets can then control the cable box through an app called Slingplayer.
Who's It For?
People who pay for cable and want to max out the TV access by slinging content onto mobile devices.
A small, discreet black box that looks a little bit like a Jawbone Jambox.
Connect it to the cable box's video and audio outputs, hook up the ethernet, and plug it into a power source.
The Best Part
Watching the morning news over 4G on the ride in to work.
When you stream 1080p wirelessly, you're getting compressed 1080p — it's not like Blu-Ray quality. And you need a good 5 or so Mbps of free bandwidth to even have a chance of it running smoothly. But that's a problem with other Slingboxes, Apple TV, and any device like this.
This Is Weird...
The mobile app costs $US14. It used to cost more. But still, once you've spent $US180 on the box, you'd think the app would be part of the deal.
- Set it up with my Samsung TV.
- When you change channels, the stream tends to freeze up.
- If you are capable of setting up a DVD player, you can get the Slingbox up and running.
- Used the SlingPlayer on iPhone 5, Samsung TV, and 2010 MacBook. Fantastic picture quality.
Should You Buy It?
The 350 is a good product, and the premise of a Slingbox is really enjoyable. You pay a lot for pay TV, you have a great screen on a new tablet, and you want to watch some TV on that thing. So if you're considering signing on, go for it. It looks great.
But if you're already a Slingbox user, there's not much of a compelling reason to upgrade. This particular model of Slingbox hasn't been improved on much, aside from a fresh design and the addition of 1080p video — and wireless streaming doesn't really have the bandwidth for you to even see that.
• Price: $US180
• Color: black
• Dimensions: 17.7cm x 17.7cm x 3.8cm
• Weight: 294 grams
• Material: Plastic
• Ports: IR, USB, ethernet, audio in/out video in/out
• Gizrank: 3.0 stars
Photos by Michael Hession