Company:Â Sling Media
SlingboxÂ is a TV streaming media device that you attach to your cable or satellite box, allowing you to control and view live TV and DVR content via the SlingPlayer app on your mobile phone, iPad or SlingPlayer desktop on your computer. This is called place shifting. You can watch TV or recorded content on your DVR from anywhere in the world. Slingbox product offerings include the Slingbox 500/SlingTV, Slingbox 350, and my review unit, the Slingbox M1.
The Slingbox M1Â is the fifth generation Slingbox. This entry-level box has a smaller footprint (1.7 x 7 x 4.3), with built in Wi-Fi or Ethernet to stream live and recorded content to your remote devices. Mobile devices require installing the $14.99 Slingplayer app for Android or iOS devices. The Slingplayer for Desktop for the Mac or PC is free. The Slingbox M1Â requires component cables. HDMI is currently not available.
Before setting up the device, you should determine the manufacturer name and model of your cable or satellite box. This information will be needed during the setup. The setup is simple: connect to set-top box, connect via Wi-Fi or wired network, install Slingplayer app on your mobile device or Slingplayer for Desktop on your Mac or PC, then follow the instructions on the remote device.
Connection to the cable or satellite box requires audio and component video cables. If you are already using component and audio cables to connect your TV and cable/satellite box, you can use the provided set of cables to connect the Slingbox M1â€™s audio out and component out ports to your TVâ€™s audio in and component in ports.
If you plan to use a wired network setup, you connect an Ethernet cable into Ethernet ports of the Slingbox M1Â and the router/modem. The Slingbox has a built-in IR emitter which allows you to control your cable or satellite box with your Slingbox remote control. To add range to the signal, it is recommended to connect the provided IR emitter cable. To install, plug the cable into the back of the Slingbox and position the other end so that it sets toward the front of the cable or satellite box and above or below the IR sensor.
Once power is connected, one or two lights should start blinking on the front of the Slingbox. To complete setup, go to http://www.slingbox.com/m1setup to download and install the Slingplay or Slingplayer desktop app. and follow the instructions which will include Wi-Fi setup if you did not configure a wired network setup.
My installation experience was without issue. However, learning to use the virtual remote required some patience because there is a couple of seconds delay between selecting a function, such as changing a channel, and the Slingboxâ€™s response. Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, the TV that the Slingbox is connected to will be controlled by the user of the Slingbox app. Good to excellent broadband service is required in order to get quality video; with upload speed especially important. The cost of the device is a bit high in my opinion considering the lack of a HDMI interface. The cost of the mobile app, $14.99, is also high when compared to similar free apps. Though these are one time costs this may make this purchase a no-go for someone already streaming content via free apps.
The Slingbox M1Â works as advertised. There are no gotchas other than the cost. It works great in my home environment where there are rooms without TV. A recent house guest and PhD student enjoyed her isolation in the TV-less bedroom suite above my garage. With Slingplayer Desktop running on her laptop, she was able to reward herself with much deserved breaks from writing her dissertation.
MyMac Review Rating is 7 out of 10.
So what do you get for the extra $50 this costs over an Apple TV?
I have 4 Apple TVs and can’t think of a reason to try something else?
You will be able to watch your TV on any device you have the Slingbox player installed from any location in the world where you have broadband quality or better internet connectivity. I don’t think this is for everyone though. I imagine kids away at college would enjoy being able to access their parent’s cable/satellite programming for free. Or if you’re visiting that friend who no longer had a TV, you could excuse yourself and indulge in some mindless TV series or movie. However, I don’t see the need to dump your AppleTV or FireTV or HBO Go, etc.