While Sky enables you to watch some of its channels through Sky Player online TV service, it's not the norm to have that sort of flexibility from your home TV provider. In the connected world, this seems somewhat anachronistic, but then the SlingBox appeared to fix that problem.
You connect your set-top box to it, and it streams your home TV to you anywhere in the world. The Monsoon Multimedia Vulkano picks up that baton and runs with it, combining the ability to broadcast your TV service with digital recording capabilities, UPnP media streaming and a YouTube app.
There are free Mac and iOS apps for watching the streamed video. An IR blaster is included, so you can control your set-top box remotely.
In the US, Electronic Program Guide (EPG) functionality is included so you can see what's on every channel, but this feature doesn't work in the UK.
By adding storage using the USB, eSATA or SDHC card ports, video can be recorded, too. On paper, the Vulkano has an impressive feature list. In practice, it doesn't hold up quite so well.
The problem is UK support is sketchy. We've already touched on the lack of UK EPG (though we're told it's imminent), but when you go through the lists of compatible boxes to set up using the Vulkano's remote control with your box, you'll notice only one Sky box listed, and no Virgin.
In fact, the new V+ box is there, but under its official product number: the Samsung SMT-H3110. Several Humax boxes are supported, but BT Vision is absent.
The video-quality streaming out from the device isn't too good from a 720p source. On a Mac over a local wireless network, the quality is reduced and stutters often. Audio and video often fell out of sync, too.
Playback on iOS was good, however. The YouTube playback was a bit hit and miss. The UPnP playback worked well, but it's a hidden option that needs to be unlocked.
The Vulkano has the potential to be a contender, but it's not there yet. We'd stick with the Slingbox Pro HD.
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