FreshArrival » Blog Archive » Slingbox AV: The Review.

Slingbox AV: The Review.

by Richard

If you haven’t been living under a sizable rock the past few years, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard about the Slingbox. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a device that lets you watch your television, DVD player, Tivo or other remote controllable video output device from across the internet. 3 new Slingboxes were released this past September: The Slingbox Tuner, AV and Pro. I’ve had the chance to put a Slingbox AV through its paces in different real-world environments for awhile now, and I’ve done a few things with it that might be helpful to those of you who are more of the hacking, hands-on type.

The Slingbox AV is the middle child in the Slingbox family and can accept 2 video inputs, which you can switch between remotely using the SlingPlayer software. It includes a dual-headed IR blaster which you point at the component(s) you’d like to be able to control remotely.

Slingbox setup couldn’t be much easier. Basically, you plug it into your network (if you’ve got a fairly recent router that supports UPnP, it can configure itself for your network), plug the video/audio/IR cables in and run the setup program, which includes a helpful wizard that lets you pick a password for remote viewing, the devices that you’ve got plugged into the Slingbox (so it can put the proper buttons on the on-screen remote) and test your remote control settings to see if the Slingbox really can control your devices. I easily ran through the setup and was watching the feed from my test Tivo within 20 minutes.

My real PVR configuration, however consists of a home-built, dual tuner BeyondTV box that I built back when I reviewed BeyondTV months back. Sling has an extensive library of codes to control different devices in all sorts of categories, and they’re adding more all the time… but there weren’t any codes available to control BeyondTV using the Slingbox and the remote control I’ve been using with it (the 45 button Hauppauge remote that came with my PVR-150 tuner cards), so I made one. Knowing that they can’t possibly have every code available, Sling has built a very simple but quite powerful option right into the setup wizard: the ability to add your personalized remote control codes directly into the Slingbox. I used a combination of the knowledge at hifi-remote.com, Remote Master, this tutorial and a bit of technical know-how to make a remote file that would allow the Slingbox to control my BeyondTV box, and upload it into the Slingbox. Here is the resulting file, in case anyone else has a similar setup at home and doesn’t want to go through the work of making the .bin files for the remote. This should work if you have one of the 3 new Slingboxes, the 45 button Hauppauge remote that comes with the PVR-150, and BeyondTV 4.x. It might work for other configurations, but of course I haven’t tested any other ones. Also, if these files screw up your Slingbox, I’m not responsible. :)

Sling really has covered all their bases here, and there’s absolutely no reason that anyone who has some sort of TV to watch at home and a broadband internet connection shouldn’t be able to watch their TV from anywhere they happen to be.

I bought a new Cingular Blackjack (which runs on the new 3G high-speed network) a couple of weeks back, and I found out that Sling even has a client for Windows Mobile, Smartphone and Symbian devices called SlingPlayer Mobile. I was able to install it on my BlackJack with no problems and it works flawlessly when you’re in a coverage area. (I even got it to work at 55 MPH on part of my holiday drive… I swear I was just testing it and not watching a show! )

It doesn’t yet work at full resolution on newer smartphones like the BlackJack and the Motorola Q, but you can go full-screen with it and it’s good enough for now (I hear Sling is working on a fix which should be out soon.) You’ve got full remote control of your DVR or TV from your cell phone, and that’s just ridiculously cool. The first time I got it installed and working was just insane. To think that my TV programs are being recorded by a PC in my living room, watched by the Slingbox, compressed and streamed over the internet in near-real time, and sent to my phone by a cell tower is way, way beyond cool. I’ll never be bored again!

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While FreshArrival does receive products from companies to review from time to time, they don’t pay us to review them. Our honest opinions are always presented. If a product sucks, we simply don’t write about it.

I forgot to mention on FA redesign day that I recently wrote a FA search plugin for Firefox, so that you can search FA from right within the Firefox search bar! It should work for Firefox 1.5-2.0 on both Windows and the Mac.

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12 Responses to “Slingbox AV: The Review.”

  1. SnapStream Blog » Blog Archive » Using the Slingbox AV with Beyond TV Says:

    […] Richard over at FreshArrival.com send me an e-mail to mention a review that he recently did of the new SlingBox AV where he walks through how you can use SlingBox and Beyond TV together to “place shift” recordings made in Beyond TV. […]

  2. Project HTPC » Control Beyond TV with Slingbox Says:

    […] This review of the Slingbox AV mentions how to create your own remote in Slingbox that can control your Beyond TV setup. This could be the bit of news I’ve been waiting for to get a Slingbox. […]

  3. Zatz Not Funny!»Blog Archive » Digital Media Bytes Says:

    […] Control BeyondTV with Slingbox: Fresh Arrival […]

  4. Grant Says:

    How did you get the codes from the Hauppauge 45-button remote into Remote Master? I want to do the samething with the Firefly mini IR remote. Thanks!

  5. Richard Says:

    Grant-

    Manually, following this tutorial.

    Basically, there’s a file that comes with the Hauppage IR program called irremote.ini (should be in the c:\windows directory).

    On the side of each remote command listed, there is an OBC code. I entered those codes into Remote Master in the OBC column next to the function that each one matched.

    As for getting the Firefly mini to work: You’d have to find the IR codes for that remote. You might have some success by looking around in hifi-remote.com for them.

  6. Grant Says:

    Thanks. I’ll try to find the codes. What did you use for Protocol, Device, and Sub Device?

  7. Grant Says:

    Sorry to be a pain, but are you able to add the custom remote file to the SlingPlayer Mobile too? From what I understand you need to save the remote file into the SBAV directory. I assume this is a directory for the SlingPlayer. Is there such a directory for the mobile player? I also have a Blackjack.

  8. Richard Says:

    The custom remote file is saved directly to the Slingbox, and so it is available from all Slingbox clients whether they are desktop or mobile. Just put the remote files in the SBAV directory on your PC, run through the setup wizard, choose the proper remote file from within it and then it will save it to the Slingbox for you.

  9. doug Says:

    Can you record shows on you pc with slingbox and later transfer those recordings to a microsd card to watch on a mobile device? I would like to watch recorded shows on the airplane when I travel and live tv when I am in my wireless network’s 3.5g coverage. I do not currently have a tv tuner, slingbox, or blackjack. I would prefer buying two items instead of three.

  10. Richard Says:

    Doug-

    No you can’t. The Slingbox is not a video recorder, it’s a video streaming device… it doesn’t store any video at all. It just sends a video feed across the internet.

  11. Jim Says:

    Can you tell us what you used for Protocol, Device, and Sub Device when building your profile for the Happauge remote with RemoteMaster? Thank you!!

  12. Don Says:

    I have an X10 high quality full remote control video camera that I want to feed the video into the Slingbox with audio of the room. I then want to put the slingbox 240-100 in my DMZ zone outside my firewall and router for multiple people to view the video. Can I load a static IP, password and anything else needed into the Slingbox and just put it out on the Internet….sort of like a server without the cost of a server? Can multiple people connect to the Slingbox simultaneously? Thanks,