Do you want to access whatever's on your home TV from anywhere in the world? Then the Slingbox PRO is for you.
The premise is simple: you can watch your home TV on your Mac anywhere there's an internet connection. The Slingbox PRO simply encodes the video signal and streams it over the internet to a player on a computer or smartphone; there's currently no player for the iPhone, however.
The Slingbox PRO can be connected to one HD source using Component, and up to three standard-definition devices such as a DVR, cable or satellite via S-Video, composite and aerial sockets. With a built-in Freeview receiver, simply plug in your digital aerial and you've got your over-the-air solution ready to go.
One nice feature on the PRO is its dual outputs that let you wire the Slingbox between your receiver and your TV and pass the signal straight on, though in our testing we couldn't simply watch the Freeview programming directly from the Slingbox's own tuner on our TV.
The Slingbox PRO handles 5,000 different pieces of video gear so you can control them over the internet using an on-screen remote. You simply click on virtual buttons to change the channel, play or rewind a pre-recorded show, access programme listings and more; commands are passed to your device by a Heath Robinson-style remote control eye that you plug into the back of the Slingbox and point at your box's IR receiver.
After you connect the Slingbox to your internet connection, the step-by-step software installation is next. Once set up, the experience is fantastic. The stereo audio quality is excellent and although not as good as watching on a real TV, the video isn't bad at a maximum resolution of 640x480.
If you're hooking up to a high-definition signal, you won't get an HD-quality picture as it's converted and then compressed. Also, internet speed is crucial. Any less than 500Kb/sec and sports video tends to break up because it's being updated so quickly, but anything else looks fine. Any more than 1Mb/sec up from the Slingbox and you'll be happy.
There are disappointments, however. The Slingbox PRO doesn't have a built-in DVR to record and re-watch programmes, and there's no support for WiFi, either. But despite these few drawbacks, the Slingbox Pro is a well thought out product that does the job and does it very well.