Place shifting television Matt 29 Jul 2005

34 comments Latest by Jessica

First there was time shifting for TV using DVRs. Now there’s place shifting. Place shifting lets you watch TV shows you receive at home in other locations and on devices other than TV sets.

How it works

The Slingbox, for example, is a $250 piece of hardware that enables you to watch your TV programming from wherever you are by turning an Internet-connected PC into your personal TV. Walter S. Mossberg gives it a thumbs up:

I have been testing the Slingbox at home, in my office and on the road. In my tests, it worked exactly as advertised. At my office, about a dozen miles from home, I watched recorded episodes of “Charlie Rose” and “Desperate Housewives.” At an airport, I watched CNBC live on my laptop via a public Wi-Fi connection. And in a Boston hotel room, about 450 miles from home, I watched a live Washington Nationals baseball game unavailable in Red Sox country.

Slingbox has been demonstrated running on PDAs and cellphones too, but software for those devices isn’t ready yet. The Mac version is “in the works.”

34 comments (comments are closed)

Randy J. Hunt 29 Jul 05

Bye-bye Eye-TV!

This is going to be another of those didn’t-know-how-much-I-needed-it-until-I-have-it devices.

I don’t own a television, but if I could catch antiques roadshow from a friend’s TV “slung” (or “slinged”) to my laptop in an airport, that’d be a treat.

Kevin 29 Jul 05

This is an amazing idea. I will be purchasing this.

Randy J. Hunt 29 Jul 05

I wonder if we’re talking full-screen. I’d like to see at least 800x600.

Dan Boland 29 Jul 05

That’s incredible, but I don’t think I follow where the Slingbox gets its range. Am I missing something?

Randy J. Hunt 29 Jul 05

It does it over IP:
“long as you have a high-speed Internet connection”

Dan Boland 29 Jul 05

Oh, it utilizes the Internet. Nevermind.

Michael Estok 29 Jul 05

But… I doesn’t appear to work on Macs. Which for me renders it useless.

Pieter Jelle 29 Jul 05

Too bad it’s butt-ugly.

Ryan 29 Jul 05

The Mac version is “in the works.”

Ahhh…the famous last words.

Seth Werkheiser 29 Jul 05

I’d buy one this afternoon if there was a mac version.

Dick 29 Jul 05

Great. Television can make our live even more unproductive now!

Jon Buda 29 Jul 05

I heard about this one a few weeks ago, and while it is a great looking device, do people really need yet another way to get sucked in to their television? First DVR which I admit is great, but now TV can follow you everywhere! Yikes…

Also, anyone else think this is going to usher in a new era of pirating cable TV?

Brad 29 Jul 05

It sounds great, but there are some practicalities (touched on by Mossberg in his article) that make me wonder:

1. You’d have to leave your TV on all the time if you’re planning to watch remotely. You want to use it at work, you turn the TV on and leave it on for 8 or more hours until you get home, even if you’re only actually watching it for 30 minutes. Seems like a waste of power, although if you can afford $250 for the unit you’re probably not worried about your electricity bill.

2. It doesn’t look like you can change channels remotely. So if you want to watch one show on channel 2 and then two hours later a show on channel 4 you’re out of luck (unless you have someone at home who can change channels for you).

3. If you do have someone at home, you’re at their mercy…if they decide to watch TV and flip the channel right in the middle of the soccer game you’re watching, just when the game’s getting close, well…did anyone watch Amélie?

Darrel 29 Jul 05

I’m still confused as to how internet based devices and applications are developed to only work with one operating system.

Sam 29 Jul 05

I disagree with Dick and Jon Buda, I can’t see this making people’s lives any less productive. I think people will use this to grab shows they were already watching anyway. Far different then vegging in front of the tube for hours on end.

Also I can’t imagine the bandwidth limitations of MOST consumers would allow the serial upload of “those 20 Law and Order episodes you’ve been meaning to watch.”

Eamon 29 Jul 05

I have a ReplayTV, and with DVArchive I can pull shows off of it, transcode, and sync with my Treo. Pretty slick. It /kills/ me that T-Mobile’s rollout of 3G won’t be until 2007— I’m pretty sure I have all the tools to stream video directly to my Treo, which would be absolutely killer.

Craig 29 Jul 05

Brad: Unless I misunderstood, it sounds like you can leave the TV off and change the channels remotely. Mossberg wrote:

You can change channels, use the program guide, and perform any action on the menus of your TV or recorder just as if you were sitting in front of your set. The home TV doesn’t even have to be on at the time.

You’re third point, though, is still a hurdle.

MrBlank 29 Jul 05

I’ve been using Beyond TV on my old PC for a year and I have the ability to control it remotely, showsqueeze anything I’ve recorded and download from anywhere I have an internet connection. It’s pretty handy.

Sling is neat and seems like a better solution, but will it control my HTPC software (I’m gussing ‘no’)? Will it control a Tivo (I’m guessing ‘yes’)? Can I download and save streams to watch later when I don’t have an internet connection? Will it go the other way and play video on my TV from a networked PC? They need an FAQ page.

Tommy 29 Jul 05

Do we really need this much access to TV programs. I mean do I need (or will my company) want me to get a rerun of the Daily Show at work? Is the last eposide of Lost so important I have to see it now and can’t wait till I get back from my business trip to watch it on my DVR?

Don’t get me wrong, it is a way cool idea and technology, but it just seems like too much IMHO.

Scott 29 Jul 05

Do we really need this much access to TV programs. I mean do I need (or will my company) want me to get a rerun of the Daily Show at work? Is the last eposide of Lost so important I have to see it now and can’t wait till I get back from my business trip to watch it on my DVR?
No, not neccessarily … but I guess the point is, now you can if you want to. And that’s pretty damn cool.

Tommy 29 Jul 05

As I said Scott it is “a way cool idea and technology.”

I’ve had a TiVo for 3+ years. Non-tech people (like my parents) see the technology and love it. They are amazed. Not that different to the response I get when I show people RSS feeds. I get the “how did I live w/o it?”

But this is something else. IMHO it is “geek technology” for the sake of “geek technology.” Because we can do it, lets do it. I want so many other tech items. At $150 or $250 a pop there is a lot of other things I would buy.

But then again, maybe I just don’t get it.

Kenzie 29 Jul 05

Looks like you can control the source. Has an IR emitter which would emulate the remote.

matthew 29 Jul 05

jaysus….

now THAT is a love of teevee

matthew 29 Jul 05

perhaps i should add that that.

this is a pretty cool application, if you love teevee. REALLY love teevee

Richard 29 Jul 05

I actually installed one today. In response to Brad’s questions, I’d like to reiterate

#1 and 2: You plug the Slingbox directly into the cable line using coax if you have cable, or into an input of your cable/satellite box/dvr if you have one of those. What I am using is a DirectTV satelite tuner with Tivo built in. Either way, your TV would not have to be on at all.. only your cable/satellite box, or nothing at all, if you have basic cable.

The Slingbox comes with 2 remote IR emitters that go on the top and bottom of the hardware you want to control. Theoretically, you could turn the box on and off if you wanted to, as the emitters are, in essence a remote control mounted to the front of your tuner box. I say theoretically, because apparently it is not an option for my particular box. There is a power button in the tuner software for me that is grayed out so I can’t turn the box on and off, but all other functions of the Tuner/Tivo can be controlled by the SlingPlayer software. They just need to enable that button in software. Everything else is in place for you to turn your tuner box on and off wherever you are.

3: Since there is a “remote” mounted to the front of your tuner box that you control over the internet, if there was someone at home who wanted to watch something else, you could each change the channels back and forth in your respective locations and “fight over the remote in a totally new way” :) Neither of you has more control than the other, unless you count the ability of the person at home to just unplug the Slingbox!

And in response to Jon:

Sling Media only lets one person log into the Slingbox at a time, therefore you can’t give all your friends your password and all watch free cable/satellite. It will probably be hacked eventually, but Sling Media has covered their rear(s) legally on that issue.

Darrel 29 Jul 05

this is a pretty cool application, if you love teevee. REALLY love teevee

Or, rather, a pretty cool application for those that dislike TV. It just takes TIVO one step farther. TIVO gets rid of the crap on TV leaving you with only what you value. This goes a step further and delivers it to the places that you value.

The Slingbox comes with 2 remote IR emitters that go on the top and bottom of the hardware you want to control.

THIS is actually the coolest aspect, IMHO.

We have DirectTV at our house, but are only paying for one box. Don’t really have a need for multiple ones. Occasionally, though, it’d be nice to watch some DirectTV somewhere other than our TV room…maybe on our laptop in bed, or on the computer in the basement, etc.

Sure beats a monthly additional fee for hooking up more DirecTV boxes.

James 29 Jul 05

Do they have any sort of plan for legal defense? After all, “space shifting” was the right courts ruled we don’t have when mp3.com tried to offer it…

sloan 29 Jul 05

So this allows streaming of your TV across the net, but does not provide any “recording” capability of its own? Your source of “TV” can be a DVR or cable?

The site really does a poor job of explaining its capabilities… but from what I see and have read here so far, it is just a streamer of content. Does it just buffer everything to make sure your network doesn’t cause drop offs? Jeez, I’m asking more questions than anything else.

At home I have an EyeTV hooked up to my computer and can SFTP or SSHing in for whatever file I want. And I could set up as many people as I want to have access to it, or set an AppleScript to automatically upload my programs to a webserver for better security for my home box… I guess that doesn’t stream, or allow for channel changing on the fly, but I would bet it is possible with just a software update to the El Gato software… Interesting.

Nice Paul 30 Jul 05

Since the Internet and television both work worldwide, presumably this is available to me in the UK.

Do they ship internationally? Hey, there’s no acknowledgement on their site that anywhere outside America even exists. Maybe someone should tell them…

(yes, it REALLY irritates me when companies are this shortsighted. a simple “international shipping not available” is better than leaving me guessing)

Nice Paul 30 Jul 05

But kudos to them for replying to my support email enquiry within 5 minutes on a Saturday!

(for the record, it’s not available in the UK because it’s designed for the NTSC video standard, not the higher definition PAL standard we have)

Don Wilson 31 Jul 05

How much commission are you guys getting from this?

Ben 01 Aug 05

This sounds a lot like Orb: http://www.orb.com/ …. Live TV on nearly any device, even a cell phone… Bring Your Own Hardware though, so you need a capture card to pull off live TV. But even without that it works for movies you have on your home computer. I use it to watch torrented stuff while I am on the go. Seems like combining Orb with a Media Center PC would be a perfect setup. I guess slingbox is just a standalone hardware equivalent for less money?

JF 01 Aug 05

No commission. No connection.

Jessica 08 Sep 05

[Sling Media only lets one person log into the Slingbox at a time, therefore you can’t give all your friends your password and all watch free cable/satellite. It will probably be hacked eventually, but Sling Media has covered their rear(s) legally on that issue.]

Richard, How exactly did Sling Media cover their “rears” leagally? There are many issues to be considered: copyright infringement, compulsory licensing for the retransmission of a cable broadcast, content control, and piracy. Just because only one person can long into it at once, doesn’t mean that person isn’t your sister in on the otherside of the world who doesn’t have a subsription to HBO, but logs in with your password (b/c you gave it to her like the good big brother you are), and watch Sopranos together via the Slingbox. Is there something that you know that we don’t, once again regarding how Sling Media covered their rears?