Sunday, July 29, 2007

Oh Slingbox, How I Love Thee

I've got to say that my Slingbox has turned out to be one of the most useful gadgets I've picked up over the past several years. By now most of you know what a Slingox is - basically it's a small device that sits between your television and one or more video devices, typically a Tivo or some sort of DVR. Using a small piece of software (SlingPlayer) that you load onto your PC, Mac or Smartphone you are able to view video content located in your home (or wherever you have your Slingbox device located) from anywhere on the internet. I've traveled quite a bit these past few years, much of it internationally, and I can't count the number of times I've watched my favorite TV shows from thousands of miles away while traveling in Europe or Asia. I happen to be a fanatic of The Sopranos, but it just so happens that I was in Shanghai during the much discussed the series finale. I just had to watch the episode while it was showing "live" in the States. No problem...just fired up the SlingPlayer software at 9am in Shanghai and watched it along with everyone else. And as I write this posting I am sitting here up in Lake Tahoe watching my favorite sporting event of the year, the Tour de France, using the SlingPlayer since I have limited television access from up here...very cool!

Surprisingly, though, what I found to be even more useful than accessing my video content remotely was accessing the content while at home. I do most of my work from home, and before my Slingbox I used to frequently turn on the TV and tune into CNN or one of the other news channels while working so that I could listen in on the news of the day. But now with Slingbox I have no need to turn the TV on at all. Instead I just keep a small Slingplayer window open on my PC during the day so I can monitor the latest news while I work. In fact, I can't even remember the last time I actually turned on the TV in my bedroom. So, in my case the Slingbox can actually take the place of one of my TV's, and I'm sure if there was a way to calculate it you can even quantify the savings in my electric bill by not having to turn the TV on at all.

I bet the makers of Slingox never realized its potential for being a green solution :-)