It has definitely been a long time since we have talk about anything from the Slingbox camp. The Slingbox is one of those products that comes in handy when you are away from home but would still like to catch a few of your favorite programs. I personally used it in the past if I was coming home late from work and my favorite show was about to some on. I would use Slingbox to watch while on the bus and in route home. But alas it has been a long time since we have talked about a Slingbox here on G Style, in fact the last time might have been literally 2009 with our review of the Slingbox Solo. But Slingbox has finally refreshed their products line with the Slingbox 350 and 500. We took a look at the high-end 500 model and gave it a spin.
This definitely isn’t your father’s slingbox. When you take the Slingbox 500 out of the box, you can immediately see the difference in design. The Slingbox 500 looks like a piece of art, and I say this because if you make me describe its shape, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to. The 500 from the front starts off very narrow and then get wider and larger as you look from left to right. Then when you look at it from the back, that design is reversed.
The Sling box 500 comes in black, and there are only three indicator lights on it in the front, with one of them being the Slingbox logo which lights up when the system is in use. When put into your entertainment center, the Slingbox looks good. It is a very unique and fashionable looking device.
Once we get to the meat and potatoes of the Slingbox 500, it gets much cooler. The 500 has support for 1080P high-definition viewing and can be connected to your DVR, cable box, satellite receiver via HDMI or component sources (I’ll leave off composite since that isn’t as cool). You can also now set it up via your TV screen with a new simplified process, so no need for the computer with this one.
New on this one is built-in WiFi. I especially like this as personally I’m trying to get my home all wireless or at least reduce the amount of cables I need everywhere. Also need is the SlingProjector. This is quite cool, with it you can enjoy the media that may be on your smartphone or tablet and shift that to your TV. I like this however right now it is only for pictures. It should be noted that video will be supported at a later time via a firmware update. And also should be note the built-in IR blaster, so no need for the external ones of before which stick out like ugly appendages to your cable box.
Also in harmony with the new Slingbox, they have released a new Slingplayer with new features and a lower cost (now $14.99 vs the $29.99 it use to be). The new Slingplayer can support the 1080P resolution, and has this cool feature of letting you view the programming guide before you connect to the box.
Now with the uprising of on-demand video, there may not be a lot of use cases for the Slingbox. I however find this to be untrue. Personally I think it comes in handy if you are away and would like to watch your shows. If you are vacation for example, hotels are notorious for having crappy TV selections. With the Slingbox you can connect to your TV at home and watch what you want, either off the DVR or live.
The Slingbox does kind of take over the TV it is connected to, so I wouldn’t use it for the main TV in your house, as you’ll be forced to watch whatever those are home are watching, or them forced to watch what you want to see. But with the addition of the built-in WiFi I see this as something easily resolved. Since you aren’t chained to the ethernet cable closest to the modem, you could potentially connect the Slingbox to a TV that isn’t used as often or at least not as much as the main one. If you are a FIOS user and have mulit-room DVR even better, as you’ll be able to connect to a regular box in another room and still be able to watch live and recorded TV!
Using the Slingbox is easy and straight forward. Launch the app, hit connect and your place shifting away with ease. And with apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 8 you are pretty covered on your preferred platform!
The Slingbox 500 is a great addition to your entertainment center, though it is a bit pricey coming in at $299.99. If you aren’t just a lover of cool gadget or have a definite need, it will be hard to pony up for this one. But if you travel a lot and want to be able to have the comfort of watching your own TV anywhere, this is definitely something you need in your tech stable. And when the addition video for the SlingProjector coming it could have some good uses for pushing your content to the TV as well.