Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Slingbox for Pros

Well, I've finally got my Slingbox up and running hanging off my Telewest cable box in London.

The setup took around an hour and a half (significantly less than it took my wife to boot up her new laptop and get MS Office installed), but was very, very fiddly.

First of all you have to connect all the right wires, and despite the idiots' guide included, I suspect most people will struggle to tell the difference between the SCART and SVHS.

Then you have to download and install the software - which itself got me stumped since it sent me round in circles. The trick, by the way, is to find the download area that doesn't require registration first... (you'll know what I mean when you get there).

Once the software was installed it found the video signal on the network first time.

I then set up the remote control so that I can change my home TV from my computer (now that's a party trick if ever I saw one..!).

Finally, and most difficult of all, was making the signal available over the internet for remote connection. This involved router configuration - and my router wasn't on the list included. Again, Sling Media have tried hard by providing an online wizard, but you really need to understand routers and ports and virtual servers to get this working.

I suspect that it wouldn't work at all with many firewalls and especially the draconian and totally unusable Norton Internet Security suite.

The net result, I can control and watch my tv from anywhere in the world. Productivity at Narrowstep will plummet, no doubt, as the World Cup continues and Wimbledon approaches. But wait a minute, the BBC has just announced they'll be making the tennis tournament available online in addition to the World Cup... All that work for nothing.

The Slingbox isn't a consumer product as yet (through no fault of their own) - it will be interesting to see what rival products from Sony and others will bring to the market.

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