Hands-On Review: How easy it is to unbox a Sling Box

Summary:This isn't a new product, but it is in my household. Recently, I realized what I was missing in my life: a Sling Box - and it might be one of the best purchases I've ever made.

This isn't a new product, but it is in my household. Recently, I realized what I was missing in my life: a Slingbox - and it might be one of the best purchases I've ever made.

The Sling Media Slingbox Solo lets a user sling their cable signal to a portable device (i.e. laptop, netbook, and even an iPhone). I set one up at my house, and compared to a lot of digital viewing accessories, this one was really simple to figure out.

Everything I needed was already in the box and there aren't any extra fees for its services after you buy it (unless you want the iPhone/iPod touch receiver, which unfortunately does cost an extra $30).

Following a simple process that was the same for both Mac and PC users, I hooked up the cables accordingly (from the Slingbox out to both the cable box and the router) and attached the infrared receivers to receive the IR signal from the box. Then it came time to create an online account and start searching for the signal. It managed to find my cable box right away, and within minutes, I had a picture.

(Yes, The O.C. was on. It's not my favorite show, but not much else is on at 2:00 PM on a weekday afternoon.) As for software, its all available on Sling's site, which I liked a lot better because I hate having to keep a bunch of CDs around for the one time I might need to use them down the road. And I've been using the program with success on both Windows and Mac OS-based computers.

Users have the option of downloading a viewing program from Sling, but it tends to leave a lot of huge temporary files on your computer. So if you don't have a large hard drive or don't want to keep cleaning these files up, you can stream through your web browser. The quality isn't as good, and you don't have much control over volume, but I have found this system to be friendlier to my old MacBook.

The only trouble I've had is sometimes the picture doesn't load but the sound will, so I'll have to refresh the page, and I've sometimes the Guide (program listings) doesn't always load either.

I picked up my Slingbox at Best Buy for about $150, not including tax (and obviously no shipping). You can check out prices and buying options here if you're interested as well.

Do any of you have Slingboxes at home? And if so, how well have they worked for you?

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Networking, Telcos

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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