Has your TV ever made you feel a little trapped? So many shows can only be watched on your big TV in your living room, especially when it comes to live events. Slingbox is a product, developed by Sling Media, that seeks to solve this problem by, well, slinging your TV content to different screens around your home, as well as at a distance. The technology is also referred to by the somewhat obsolete term “placeshifting,” channeling the same content into different places via mobile devices.
How does a Slingbox work? There are several generations of Slingbox devices, but they follow the same concept: Hook them up to your TV and DVR system, and then can transmit TV content to other screens that have an Internet connection. This includes smart TVs, tablet computers, smartphones, desktops, and laptops.
As long as your Slingbox is working and you have one of these devices (both need a quality Internet connection), you can watch Sling box live TV no matter where you are, along with controlling which channels you’re viewing. You can even set up a Slingbox to tap into stored DVR content and watch events you may have missed whenever you want. There are no monthly fees for doing this, other than what you already pay for cable.
These features are how Slingbox began. The product line has grown much more complex in subsequent generations, adding more set-top box features and wireless compatibility until it is capable of offering a broad variety of features for all types of viewers. Those features include:
- Access to streaming apps and video content: As Slingbox has grown more advanced, it has adopted the latest video streaming apps as well as traditional TV. This means you can also use Slingbox to stream Netflix, YouTube, and many other kinds of video apps to other devices via the Slingbox interface.
- Sports-friendly features: Slingbox allows for several unique sports features, including access to live sports scores for games that may not be on your TV.
- Integrated interfaces: Slingbox offers integrated interfaces for devices like the iPad that make suggestions for movies and shows and work with social media for sharing your picks or asking for opinions.
- Compatibility with other set-top boxes: Slingbox plays nice with Roku, Apple TV and other set-top box devices, allowing you to use them together for maximum content reach and accessibility.
If you are interested in the Slingbox features, it’s a good idea to surf by the Slingbox store and take a close look at the current devices. In the fifth generation, there are two primary options, the Slingbox 500 and the Slingbox M1.
The Slingbox 500 is the flagship Slingbox model, with full compatibility, extra options for sports, all HD viewing, and the other bells and whistles that Sling Media can offer. It also offers Wi-Fi connections, which means that it doesn’t have to be physically connected to your router to work. This model starts at $299.99.
The Slingbox M1 is a less expensive, smaller version. It doesn’t include all the same HDMI features or the extra options for sports that the 500 has, but the basic functionality is still there and it comes at a much lower price, this time at $149.99.
The latest addition to Slingbox is Sling TV, which is specifically designed to help those who don’t want to pay for cable. Instead of permanently giving up live events, these customers can use Sling TV to access major channels like ESPN, TNT, and CNN, with all their live content and without a cable subscription. Other compatible channels include HGTV, the Food Channel, and TBS. Currently the price stands at $20 per month. You can learn more and find out how to sign up at the sling site.
If you are looking for an alternative to Slingbox, remember that many mobile devices offer apps for more direct streaming options. You may not be able to watch live TV, but you can watch saved shows for networks like Fox, ABC, NBC, the CW, and so on. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and others also offer their own individual apps across mobile devices, and even ESPN has its own streaming service, although you have to pay for it. These may be able to take the place of a Slingbox in a pinch.