Want to take the home out of home theater? New “place–shifting” devices are emerging, which will let you watch video from your Home Theater Network on any web enabled device. Live television, recorded DVR shows, webcams, and more can now all be viewed on your PDA phone or internet connected laptop. This lets a business traveler watch their local sports teams play live on a laptop, even if they are in another country. They can also program the DVR to record a show, watch the webcam to make sure the house is OK, or watch the local news on the PDA phone while riding the subway to work. The applications are endless, and the choices for place–shifting hardware are growing. This section details some examples of place–shifting hardware.
Slingbox is leading the charge for place–shifting technology similar to how Tivo lead the charge for time–shifting technology. Many innovation awards were handed out to Slingbox for its video streaming technology. Slingbox works by connecting the video and audio output from a cable/satellite box, DVR, or webcam to the Slingbox as well as connecting a Slingbox to a router. A user would then have to install some supplied software onto a laptop/PC to view the streaming video. The software will automatically find your Slingbox through the internet by a unique Slingbox ID number. Slingbox then does all the work in converting the video, and making sure it gets through all the networking in top quality. The software also acts as a virtual remote to control any connected device.
Inputs and Outputs of Slingbox are:
- Audio/video inputs
- Audio/video outputs
- RJ-45 Ethernet input
The Slingbox can only output audio/video to one device (PC, laptop, PDA phone) at a time. Anyone at home will have to view this audio/video output. That means your spouse might not be happy with you if you remotely change the channel while he/her is watching their favorite show. One way around this problem is to use a cable splitter and connect one output to Sling’s coax connector, and the other end to the cable/satellite box. The remote viewer can then watch TV through the coaxial input, and the spouse at home can watch TV through the cable/satellite box.
There are no subscription fees with Slingbox. There is only a one–time purchase fee for the actual box. Currently, Slingbox only works with Windows. A Mac OS X version is expected in the summer of 2006. A media player is available for PDA phones with a Windows Mobile OS. You can watch and control your TV from your PDA phone if your PDA phone has a internet connection speed of 112 kbps. See below for some example screen shots.