Sunday, January 10, 2010

Our Geschenk to ourselves

For many reasons, (some of which will be revealed later), we decided to invest in a Slingbox on our recent trip to the States.

What is a slingbox you might ask (as the clerks did when we asked if they were in stock)? Our Slingbox allows us to watch American television in our own home here in Berlin. Our Slingbox is actually hooked up in my parents house (thanks Mom & Dad!) to a receiver AND the Internet. At our end in Berlin, it streams through our laptop once we have signed in to our account and downloaded the Slingbox Player (you can also watch it through the Internet without the player).

It is perfectly legal through some kind of loophole about having only one stream per cable box/satellite receiver/DVR etc. Anywhere we have Internet, we can theoretically use our Slingbox. We can even watch it on our TV by hooking up a cable from our laptop to the TV. Here is a (slightly blurry) photo of what we see on our computer.

As Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali battle it out on Iron Chef America, you can see a guide on the right side. This guide helps navigate through the many cable channels. It substitutes (a bit poorly) for a channel changer. You can also hide the guide and make your show full-screen by the simple click of a button.

There are some cons.
  • the picture is not perfect and can occasionally look pixelated depending on Internet connection speeds on both ends.
  • The box itself runs from $170 (for SD)-$300 (for HD). There are no other charges involved except Internet service at both ends.
  • The Slingbox Solo can have conflicts if someone uses the cable box at its homebase. Two people can not watch the same show at the same time which means possible angry webcam calls that start with "Hey - I was watching that!" We had my parents install an extra cable box that they will probably rarely use to solve this. At an extra $5-$7 a month, I think we can handle this. :)
  • We had to plug in the Slingbox in the US directly to the Internet router. This was a bit of a pain as the router and the cable box were not in the same room.
  • The Slingbox does not change time zones just because you do. We watch all of our TV 7 hours ahead. You can attach it to a DVR but we will wait and see if the investment is worth it.
The Scientist and I feel a bit like kids in a candy store. We aren't normally big TV watchers and haven't had cable in our house for, well....ever. Going from 10 channels - 700 is a bit of a surprise. Mythbusters, Daily Show, Colbert and even Rick Steves to help us decide our next destination...we can't get enough! Baby Bird even found a new show to watch besides his occasional Thomas the Tank Engine DVD's - Jim Henson's Dinosaur Train. (don't knock it until you have seen it - I even enjoy this and well, Dr. S is kind of a cute) There are a few surprises too. When did Discovery Channel diverge into 80 different shows. Do we really need Discovery Apocalypse?

However, after I saw television shows with names such as "Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura" and "The Hoarders" I am possibly regretting this purchase... :)

Gotta go....Dr. Who is beckoning!


Kimber.G. said...

That's exciting! Don't watch hoarders though, it's so gross!!

Jentry M. said...

I love my slingbox! I missed the food network and hgtv so much that when I was home last April, I set one up at my parent's house! It was quite wonderful when Amelia had midnight and 3am feedings...I could catch a prime-time show without recording it! :)