Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant
Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant

Sunday, February 12, 2006

SlingBox Rocks ... and addresses my Olympic-size problem...

(written on Day 2 of the 2006 Winter Olympics)

During the summer of 1972 I moved to Germany (working with a private firm) about three weeks before the Munich Olympics started. As my wife had remained in Canada to help her parents with a move, I was getting my evening meals in the local town "gästehaus". When the Olympics started, the local German network provided 16-hour a day coverage from 9 a.m. to midnight. As a result I would spend my entire evenings in the gästehaus watching the Olympics(and upgrading my high school German in the process). I became an Olympic TV junkie and have been entranced by the round-the-clock Canadian coverage that has been provided with every Olympics since Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Games.

During a recent trip to the U.S. I stayed with some friends who gave me a demonstration of not only TiVo but also the newly released SlingBox. So when I realized at the end of that trip that I would be spending the first ten days of this year's Winter Olympics in the Los Angeles area without access to the CBC, I resolved to have a SlingBox installed at my (Canadian) home prior to my trip this coming week. (I certainly did not want to be restricted to NBC's "summary" prime time broadcasts that only cover U.S. athletes.) An interim quick trip to U.S. gave me the opportunity to purchase a SlingBox last week (and, yes, I declared it at customs).

This is one amazing box. The most difficult part of the installation was figuring out the wiring maze I had put together when I installed my home theatre system. The rest of the installation went quite smoothly. Simply position the SlingBox between your cable box and home stereo amplifier; attach an Ethernet cable to the home network (via a Linksys Cable/DSL Router or equivalent) and place the IR generator and its cable such that it can trigger the "Remote Control" functions of your cable box. Oh yes, do connect the power adapter!

Run the installation software on your Internet-attached PC and presto, your entire TV functionality has been migrated to your laptop PC. It was one of the smoothest installations I have executed in years. One further test: I wanted to confirm that my home TV could be viewed from anywhere on the Internet, so my next trip to a HotSpot-equipped Starbucks gave me that opportunity.

The picture on the left (captured during the opening ceremony on Friday afternoon)demonstrates the overall excellent picture quality. The only time it gets the least bit fuzzy is when I expand it to cover the full 1680 x 1050 resolution of my Dell Inspiron. (No, you cannot record the video feed from SlingBox; recording with access via remote control requires a TiVo box. This picture was captured using Snag-It.)

A few comments:
  • It allows me to view the programming I am already paying for through my Rogers Cable subscription. And I would still have to pay for any PPV programming.
  • There can only be one external viewer with access to the feed at a time; this avoids any accusation that SlingBox is facilitating "broadcasting" in any illegal manner with respect to the delivery of programming.
  • You do have total control of the cable box (including turning it off and on).
  • Make sure you establish some "rules" with the person who normally views the TV set; you do have to watch whatever is being shown on the same TV (unless you acquire a second cable box that is independent of your primary TV setup)

  • So next week I will be one of the few Canadians able to watch the CBC's full coverage of the Olympics while at a location in the U.S. that is well beyond the US-Canada border. SlingBox has solved my Olympic-size problem!

    Great story, glad the Slingbox is helping you with your situation. As a dual Canadian/American citizen, I definitely appreciate your needs.

    Of course I'm writing this from Barcelona watching the European coverage, which is quite impressive. But I tap into my Slingbox back home to see the highlights (of the previous day, that is).

    Happy Slinging!

    VP, Market Development, Sling Media
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