Sling Media Slingbox 500 Media Shifter

Price: $300 At a Glance: Stream 1080p live TV and recordings from your DVR • Complete control of your set-top box from any device • Displays photos and videos from smartphone on TV

While cable and satellite companies often tout their ability to let you start watching a recording in one room and finish it in another, you can forgo the cost of these multiroom systems with a Slingbox. The original TV place-shifter, Slingbox allows you to access your cable or satellite set-top box and all of its content from mobile devices, media players, and computers— from across the house or across the country—by using the SlingPlayer app. Hoping to save some money in box rentals, I was happy to test Sling Media’s first new consumer model in four years, the Slingbox 500 HD. There are a number of ways to watch TV on computers and mobile devices, but Slingbox is unique in providing remote access and control of your set-top box.

As noted, Slingbox works with the SlingPlayer app, available through a number of devices. At press time, Netgear’s NeoTV, Sony’s Internet Player with Google TV, and the WD TV Live streaming media servers (among others) support the SlingPlayer app, which gives them access to your remotely located set-top box or DVR and all of its content as if that box was in the room with you. Another option by which you can receive all of your set-top content on a second (or third, or fourth) TV is to use Apple’s AirPlay Mirroring feature on iPad or iPhone with Slingbox. To access your TV shows on the road, there are SlingPlayer apps for almost any smartphone or tablet—iOS, Android, Windows phones and tablets, and Kindle Fire. The app typically costs $15 for mobile devices, but there are no additional monthly fees.

The Slingbox 500 has added a number of improvements since the previous Slingbox PRO HD model. Where the older PRO HD model has 720p resolution, the Slingbox 500 streams 1080p full HD. The new model now has an HDMI input and output, Wi-Fi network connectivity, a USB connection, and the ability to stream photos and videos from a smartphone to the Slingbox for instant viewing on TV or archiving to a USB drive.

413slong.bac.jpgAlthough the Slingbox 500 has an HDMI connection, Sling Media suggests you also connect the component cables to your set-top box to bypass any HDCP copyright protection that may prohibit streaming of HD content. The Slingbox 500 has composite video connections; however, if you need to connect using composite cables, you might consider buying the less expensive Slingbox 350 model ($180).

The 500 is the first Slingbox to come with a remote control and a graphic user interface. I set up the Slingbox 500 using the onscreen menu rather than going to the Sling Media Website on my computer. I used the Slingbox 500 with my BendBroadband Alpha—a client set-top box that connects to a Moxi Gateway with DVR. The Slingbox 500 has a built-in IR blaster, but it didn’t work with my cable box. I used the included IR emitter cable shaped like a pyramid—a style that works much better in my opinion than the tape-to-your-set-top-box approach used with traditional IR bugs.

Remote Live TV and DVR
The Slingbox is not like other media streamers. It provides remote access to your set-top box. Whether it’s cable, satellite, or a DVR (like TiVo), when you are away from the device—in another room or on the road—you have direct control of it and access to all of its live or recorded content. Once it’s set up, whatever you can do on the set-top box, you can do remotely in the SlingPlayer app from your smartphone, a distant Internet-connected computer, or a supported streaming box connected to a TV in another room. If the set-top box does more than play broadcasts—say, it can connect to your home network, stream from Amazon Instant Video or Netflix, or play games—you will see it in SlingPlayer as if you were sitting in front of your main set-top box.

Sling Media
(650) 293-8000

DOS76's picture

The new Slingbox looks great and I am ready to get one but that's not why I'm posting here today. I have seen a lot of articles that talk about how you can use your WD TV Live to watch your Slingbox and that is great. It works really well (at least with the Pro HD) I have two WD TV Lives and I use one to connect it to my Epson Powerlite out in the backyard were I use it to project sporting events and movies on my 12 foot screen and it works good even while using a Wifi connection (getting Power line boxes for this summer wired is always better). The other box though I have connected to the composite ports on my Slingbox. I have the WD TV Live wired to an Ethernet switch and it is programmed to access the 10TB's of media in the shared folders of my Windows Home Server. I have access to all of that media and my cable where ever I have an internet connection and with the assistance of my smart phone that is pretty much everywhere I go now all I need now is for WD TV Live to support Ebooks, Comic Book Archives (CBR and CBZ) and retro gaming consoles and I would be set. I wanted to post this because it seems like there aren't any references of combining these devices in this manner anywhere even though the Slingbox setup features the Remote for WD TV Live right in it. To me this feature is more valuable than using WD TV Live with a HDTV. I have four HTPC's throughout the house and I feel that I would rather have full PC capabilities than just the media options offered by a streaming set top box on my TV's even though WD is priced exponentially lower.