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How does Slingbox Work?

How does Slingbox Work?

Slingbox is an audio-video device that enables you to watch your home TV on any device connected to the internet, from anywhere. This Techspirited article tells you all you need to know about this amazing device.
Vijith Menon
Interesting Fact
The makers of Slingbox wanted to watch their favorite baseball team 'SF Giants' while traveling. This led them to making this amazing device.
There was a time when we couldn't watch our favorite TV shows or games while traveling. But, this is not the case today. Technology has evolved so much that today we can watch sports, local channels, programs on demand, and even DVR’s recorded content, irrespective of our location, just on the click of a button. There's a device that serves this purpose; it's called the Slingbox.

Basically, Slingbox is a media-streaming device that compresses an audio-video signal such as a television signal, and makes it available to be watched on other devices connected to the internet. This amazing device is manufactured by Sling Media Inc., which is a subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation, the company which powers the Dish network. An internet connectivity is a must for Slingbox to be functional. This feature allows you to enjoy your home TV from virtually anywhere in the world.

Here we will discuss how the Slingbox works and its compatibility with other devices.
What is a Slingbox?
Slingbox is a set-top box device connected to your TV which streams data to another device in real time through a proprietary streaming protocol called SlingStream. If you have a laptop that's connected to the web or your cell phone, it can stream live data via the web.

Slingbox is compatible with devices like iPad, Apple TV, Roku, or the desktop. It has a feature called placeshifting which lets you view the streamed data on any device at any time. This is a great device for people who are always on the move or away from home. To make it work, all you have to do is download the SlingPlayer software which is needed for watching the content delivered by a Slingbox. There are several types of Slingbox ranging from the Classic to the Slingbox 500, which is the latest offering from Sling Media.

Slingbox 500 looks like two obtuse triangles joined together. It's equipped with the latest gadgetry to support 1080p HD streaming, HDMI, composite, and component inputs, wi-fi networking, an IR blaster that lets you control the set-top box, and a remote control, all at a cost of USD 299.99. Slingbox 350 has the same features as the 500; however, it lacks the features of HDMI input and built-in Wi-Fi.
How Does the Slingbox Work?
Slingbox setup
The Slingbox works in a linear fashion and the setup is pretty easy to follow. All you need is a broadband router, a video source, and a high-speed internet connection.

First of all, hook up your digital cable box and a DVD player to the Slingbox. (You can switch between them easily at the click of a remote.) Now, connect your TV's video output to the Slingbox tuner. The Slingbox grabs the signal from your TV and converts it into digital data that it can manipulate. It then broadcasts the data stream over the Ethernet port, so that it can be accessed through a high-speed internet connection.

Here, will discuss how the Slingbox works with some commonly used devices.
Desktop Computer
  1. Connect the cable box to the Slingbox using a video output. If you have no other video outputs available, you could use the Slingbox as a medium by connecting the cable jack to the Slingbox input and the Slingbox output to the cable box.
  2. Position the Slingbox IR emitter in front of the cable box's IR receiver. This is how you control the Slingbox from your PC. When you click 'Channel Down' from your PC, the SlingPlayer software instructs the Slingbox to send the 'Channel Down' IR code to your cable box, which switches down the list of different channels.
  3. Connect the Ethernet cable from your router to the Slingbox Ethernet port.
  4. Plug the Slingbox into a wall outlet to complete the hardware setup.
  5. The SlingPlayer software on your PC runs the setup to configure if your cable box is compatible with Slingbox. If it isn't compatible, Slingbox will guide you to a comparable device with similar settings.
Everything should work fine if the digital cable programming shows up on the computer screen. It may take a couple of tries to access the data stream. Once you have succeeded in making the connection, watching your TV from any location would be a cinch.
Comcast
As above, connect the Comcast cable box to the Slingbox to enjoy Comcast programming from any part of your house. The items that you'll need are:
  • A/V (audio/video) cable
  • Ethernet cable
  • Internet router
  1. Plug in the A/V cables to the In connection of the back of your Slingbox. The red, white, and yellow connections offer non-HD streaming, while the green, blue, and red component cables offer HD streaming.
  2. Connect the other end of the cable to the Out connection of the Comcast cable box. Some connections only transfer video such as the S-Video connection, and for these, you need to connect an audio cable separately.
  3. Set the infrared blaster on the Comcast cable box such that the IR blaster is above the infrared remote sensor. This alignment will allow your remote to change channels at random on your cable box. Now connect the other end of the IR blaster to the back of your Slingbox.
  4. Plug the Ethernet cable to the Network port on the back of your Slingbox, then connect the other end to the back of the router.
  5. Plug the power adapter into the Slingbox and the wall outlet. Once the device powers up, it will be accessible on any device once the SlingPlayer software is installed.
Apple TV
If you have Slingbox 500, use both component and HDMI cables in 'linked' mode. If you have a Slingbox PRO, use your Slingbox HD Connect cable. If you have a Slingbox SOLO, PRO-HD, or Slingbox 350, connect your Apple TV using the component connections to your Slingbox and television.

Once you've connected your Apple TV to the Slingbox, add it as a video source in SlingPlayer as follows:

For MAC
  1. Go through the Setup Assistant.
  2. When you reach the Source Selection window, select Miscellaneous Device and click Continue.
  3. In the Device Brand window, select Apple and then click Continue.
  4. In the Device Model window, select Apple TV and then click Continue to finish setting up your Slingbox.
For Windows 7 or Windows 8
  1. Click on the Configure Video Sources button on the left side of the Setup Assistant window.
  2. Select Component device.
  3. From the list of device types, select Other Controllable Device.
  4. In the Manufacturer window, choose Apple.
  5. In the Device window, select Apple TV.
  6. Finish going through the Setup Assistant to set up your Slingbox.
*Note: Unpair your Apple TV from the Apple TV remote so that your IR blasters can work with your Slingbox.
iPad
Check out the following configuration before you download the SlingPlayer app for USD 29.99.
  • iPad OS 4.1 or later
  • Slingbox SOLO with 2.1.110 firmware or Slingbox PRO-HD with 2.180 firmware
  1. Download the application from the Apple Store.
  2. After installing the program, click on Video Source to select iPad.
Dish Network
  1. Connect the composite cables in the back of your television from your Dish Network box into your Slingbox. Match the color of the prong and plug them in the Video-In connection.
  2. Plug a second set of composite cables into your Slingbox in the Video-Out connection.
  3. Plug an Ethernet cable that is connected to your network into your Slingbox.
DirecTV
  1. Connect the Slingbox to your DirecTV set-top box by taking the Slingbox's USB cable and plugging it into the USB port of your set-top box.
  2. Power on your Slingbox. A red light in the 'n' shape will indicate that it's working and will connect to your Wi-Fi network.
  3. Confirm the connection by pressing the OK button on your DirecTV remote.
  4. Download the SlingPlayer app on your mobile device.
  5. Run the application from your device and press 'Connect' to start streaming content from your DirecTV set-top box to your device.
U-verse
  1. Plug an Ethernet cable to the back of the Slingbox.
  2. Connect the other end of the cable to the input connection of your router.
The Slingbox is an amazing device albeit a few limitations. It can sling content to only one device at a time. It doesn't support the .mkv format. There's a certain video delay while it streams the data in some devices. But other than that, it's a great device for catching up on your favorite games or TV shows if you are on the move. The new devices have a feature called SlingCatcher, which works in the reverse format of Slingbox. It takes media files from your PC and slings them back to your TV.
In spite of the aforementioned limitations, the Slingbox provides good value for money for streaming HD content, without having to pay any monthly fees.