The concept is simple. It's like packing your home TV, Cable box (or satellite box) and DVR into your smartphone, tablet or laptop and taking it wherever you go. Slingbox invented placeshifting back in 2004. Since then, "Slingbox" has been to placeshifting what Kleenex is to tissues. The Slingbox 500 is the company's newest product.
The Slingbox 500 looks slicker than any Slingbox before it. It has a wave design that doesn't stack well but will top off your home theater tower well. On the back you'll find a plethora of connections including component, composite and HDMI. Connect the 500 to your cable box, the connect the 500 to your TV and you're set. It can use either Ethernet or Wi-Fi for an internet connection. Because the 500 is a pass-thru device, it will display the setup screen on your TV. Previously you had to setup a Slingbox using your PC, now you can do it without ever touching a PC. Use the included remote to choose your country, cable provider, internet connection, etc and you're ready to go in about 10 minutes.
Once the hardware is setup, you can pretty much set the remote down and enjoy the Slingbox anywhere in your home or anywhere in the world. You can point your web browser to watch.slingbox.com and connect from any PC or Mac. A virtual remote that looks just like your cable or TV remote at home will pop up on the screen. Click the buttons and you have full control over your TV setup. You can watch local news and sports or even shows that you've recorded on your DVR. It's just like sitting in front of your TV at home.
Slingbox is available for Android smartphones and tablets as well as iOS smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately, each app will cost you $15 a pop. That's a discounted price from the original price of $30 each! Seems steep to me. If you have a tablet and a smartphone you will have to buy a separate version of the app for each device. With that said, the apps are top notch. They are more polished than ever before. Controlling your TV and watching your shows is super simple. The quality of the video looks great as long as you have a solid internet connection at both locations. The best thing Slingbox can do is create an app that gets out of the way and makes watching TV the highlight, these apps do exactly that.
This Slingbox actually hooks into your TV and displays menus on the TV. This means, the Slingbox can be more than just a placeshifting device. You can display pictures from your smartphone or tablet on your TV. They call this feature SlingProjector. You can also sync your photos from your smartphone to a harddrive plugged into your Slingbox via USB. This feature is called SlingSync. This is a cool way to extend the functionality of what Slingbox can do. I'm not sure it's a selling point but it's a great bonus.
I've tried other placeshifting boxes, in fact I just reviewed one a few months ago . Other companies are doing a great job of trying to catch up to Slingbox but the Slingbox 500 is proof that Sling is still king. The hardware is polished, the apps are polished and the experience is the best it has ever been.
The Slingbox 500 sells for $299.99 and is available right now.