Streaming as what
And the likelihood that it will be streaming sensibly (say MPEG2 on request) is how low?
Pity - it would be nice to have this talk to my Hauppage MVP
One day, the world's broadcasters will make all their programming available across the internet. But at least it's possible to watch any show transmitted to your home from anywhere else on the planet without having to worry about whether your hotel has the right cable deal. Enter Sling Media's SlingBox, in which a TV tuner is …
A nice review of the functionality and design but how well does it work:
What's the picture quality like - how degraded is it from broadcast by the additional encode/decode?
Assuming your uplink tops out at 256k a lot of compression is likely - does it look good on a 15" screen? 20" screen? bigger?
How stable is it - my experience of low bitrates on a webcam is pretty poor with the picture freezing regularly - does this manage to maintain a connection reliably to avoid interupting playback?
At 54Mbps for wireless-G, I don't think that the SlingBox would have enough sufficient bandwidth to do the job. This would be one of the primary reasons for using a wired connection. I'm sure to be able to broadcast over broadband there is some level of downgrading the level of detail; but in order to get the best picture on any computer in the house, you need more than wireless can offer. I've tried streaming mpeg-2 video from my PVR to my wireless laptop with abismal results--on Standard TV no less, forget about HD.
As a true gadget geek who also travels a lot, I bought one of these almost as soon as it came out.
I found it easy to set up, and the quality is good, much better than I was expecting. There is a noticeable lag, even on a LAN, of about 2 seconds but that's not really a problem. I have a 100MBit wired network, 11MBit WLAN and 256kBit ADSL uplink to the outside world. Quality is full screen on my laptop on wired, full screen with occasional stutters on wireless and quarter screen when travelling.
It does a surprisingly good job of adjusting for flunctuating network conditions, although you will get dropouts if you're watching from a bad connection (the East Coast GNER service for instance).
There really isn't any way of describing the freedom and ease of use its remote control options give you - this is what sets it apart from just streaming video across the net. It's well worth it for that alone.
I wouldn't try to watch anything with subtitles across a slow connection though - action movies and cartoons are definitely its compression algorthms strong points.
I haven't yet tried wiring it up to, say, a baby monitor system yet, but that should be a neat thing which is possible.
What I'd like is a way of getting it to throttle the amount of data transferred depending on the time of day - not sure it can go to that level of management yet though.
> The downside is that controlling another device is laggy,
You can easily switch on the "control mode" where picture quality is reduced but the latency is also reduced. This is great for when you want to do things like control a Sky+ box planner.
PS I bought my SlingBox based upon this review
If you already have a Media Center PC with a TV tuner card, pretty much the same features are available free using Orb. http://www.orb.com
I bought a Hauppage TV Tuner card, with an Infrared Transceiver (25 quid on ebay) which can change the channel of your set top box remotely, or tune using the app provided direct from an regular TV arial. The stream is MPEG 2 I think, and can be watched on any PC with one of the more recent versions of Media Player, and controlled fully using the Orb web site. Unfortunatley work still use NT4, so my only option for sagging off is via my PDA on works (or the office above's unsecured) wireless LAN.
All of this being free is still a little too good to be true, so no idea how long it will remain FOC, fill your boots.
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