Dead-Finger Tech: Slingbox, Roku & Netflix Instant Play

What's my real dead finger tech? My media streaming devices and services that keep me juiced with multimedia content at home and when I'm traveling.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer

What's my real dead finger tech? My media streaming devices and services that keep me juiced with multimedia content at home and when I'm traveling.

In anticipation of the great summer tech news doldrums, our fearless editor asked the ZDNet bloggers to provide him with a list of “Dead-Finger Tech”, the gadgets and tech toys that we’d rather part with over our cold, dead fingers.

Earlier, I talked about my Weber Smokey Mountain as my "Dead-Finger" device. But really, this was more of a joke and an anti-tech statement. I love my smokey barbecue meats, but the Weber really isn't tech per se, It's anti-tech.

If I really had to nail down my most coveted gadgets, it would have to be my media streaming devices which give me a home away from home no matter where I am. As many of you know, my day job keeps me on the road typically four to five days of the week, and that leaves me in any number of hotels from different chains across the country. When I'm settling down for the evening, what i really want to do is watch something decent on TV. But more often than not, the selection in most hotels is usually restricted to broadcast TV, a few premium cable channels, and of course, pay per view content that is going for about $15 a pop nowadays.

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Being away from home a large percentage of the time also has the disadvantage of not being able to watch all my favorite programs that are being recorded on my DirecTV DVRs. The shows just pile up and when I get home, I never have enough time to catch up on them. But with Slingbox PRO-HD and Slingplayer, I don't need to do that.


The Slingplayer, a Windows/Mac/Smartphone application that enables you to remote stream your DVR content in your home from anywhere in the world.

Slingplayer and Slingbox allows me to catch up on all my favorite programs, no matter which hotel I'm staying in, or if I am downstairs in my office writing and want to have some content to watch on one of my monitors while I am working. The Pro version of the Slingbox is capable of streaming HD-resolution content -- up to 1920 x 540, but realistically you'll only be able to watch movies in your hotel on your laptop or iPhone/iPod Touch at VGA resolution, or 640 x 480. That is because at many hotel properties Internet access for each guest is throttled. I've noticed at certain Hilton properties, for example, that 500Kbps is about the max you can push a Slingbox connection.

Slingbox isn't the only streaming technology that I happen to be addicted to. Netflix's Instant View service, when combined with the inexpensive $99 Roku set-top device makes a great combination for content viewing.  The instant view service is a value-added feature of Netflix's regular monthly subscription fee, which is as low as $8.99 per month. The Instant View gives you access to over 12,000 movies and TV series, and is constantly being refreshed with new content.  The Roku box connects directly to your HD or standard def TV and is capable of displaying 720p HD content, and can also play pay-per view premium movies from Amazon.

Also Read: At $99 Roku Rulez With Incredible Future Potential

Also Read: The DVR Continues to be a Life-Changer (Sam Diaz)


Netflix's Instant View allows me to gawk at Princess Ardala's bazoinkas and classic 60's/70's/80's TV whether it's on my Roku or on my laptop, and the service tracks exactly where I left off watching the program.

When I am away from home, I can use my laptop and directly access the Instant View service via Netflix's web site, which is also used to add Netflix DVDs to my delivery queue and Instant Play programs the Roku device. If I watch only part of a program on the Roku, I can continue viewing it in my web browser on my laptop a few days later, as the web site is able to keep track of where you are in each movie/program. In addition to the Roku and PC/Mac, The Instant Play service is also available on a number of other consumer set-top devices, including the XBOX 360 and some Samsung DVD players.

Are you also a user of Slingbox and Roku / Netflix Instant Play? Talk Back and Let me Know.

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