Using a Slingbox to Remotely Access Your Content

Get your content where you want it, when you want it

A Slingbox HD
Yutaka Tsutano / Flickr / Creative Commons

While the DVR revolutionized how many people watch TV, current trends show that not only do people want to watch TV when they want, but where they want. No longer content to sit down in the living room with some spare time, people now want to catch up on shows while on their commute, while in their doctor's waiting room or any location where a data connection is available.

Some cable and satellite companies have been experimenting with allowing customers to stream both live and recorded content to their handheld devices but so far, you're pretty restricted as to where you have to be in order to enjoy this feature. As well, these companies are constantly fighting battles from content providers on who owns the mobile space when it comes to TV and movies.

Enter Slingbox. While the company and device have been around for some time, broadband speeds are finally getting to the point in many places where a device like the Slingbox makes sense for many people and provides a way for you to watch your favorite programming while on the go. Let's take a look at this device and how it can bring your recorded content out of the living room and into the wide world.

Slingbox Overview

At its core, the Slingbox is a simple pass-through device, much like the Logitech Revue, albeit with a different function. Slingbox will allow you to take what you normally see on your TV and view it on your mobile device or PC. That's not just recordings and live TV, but the entire user interface. The device literally takes the output from whatever you've connected to it, passes it to your TV and also converts it for streaming to your handheld device or PC. While many might consider this method of streaming a bit of a pain since your device basically acts as a remote control as opposed to simply grabbing the content and streaming it, well, Slingbox doesn't have access to your actual DVR. It simply controls it via an IR blaster.

You basically get a full soft remote which will allow you to use your DVR from afar. Not only does that mean streaming live and recorded TV but you could also use Sling's software to schedule recordings, delete recordings, schedule series or any other function you normally do from your couch.

Slingbox isn't just for cable DVRs either. You can connect it to almost any A/V device and take control remotely. Media Center PCs, TiVo DVRs and others will all work with Sling. Dish Network subscribers can get STBs that already have Slingbox integrated into them! As long as your STB has a broadband connection you can stream content right out of the box.

How to Use Slingbox

Whether or not a Slingbox is right for you depends on whether or not you feel you'll utilize the device. If you travel frequently or if you have children and are regularly in places where being able to access programming would be helpful, then the Slingbox is probably your best option for access your live and recorded TV while on the go. Waiting for cable and satellite companies to work out arrangements with content providers could be a marathon, not a sprint. So much so that at one point Time Warner Cable was providing a way for customers to get a Slingbox for free.

If you are the traveling type who's rarely home to catch your favorite programming, or if you job is far enough away from home that you spend your lunch at the office, Sling might be a great device for you. You can stream SD or HD content, you can schedule recordings and fully manage your DVR while away from home.

One thing to keep in mind: If you use Slingbox to stream live TV, you're utilizing one of your DVR's tuners. In most current DVRs that means that you'll only have one for local viewing or recording; something to keep in mind if you get a call from your spouse because they can't watch a live program.

No matter why you might need a Slingbox, the company has provided a way for consumers to stream their live and recorded programming anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This is more than TV providers have been able to do thus far and there's no telling how long it may take them to get there. It's good to know that until they do, someone is providing a method for watching the content we pay for anywhere and anytime we want.