By October 16, 2008

Slingbox Classic Review

Ever find yourself with time to kill, wishing you could watch some TV? or even a program you’ve recorded on your Sky Plus?

Well that’s what the Slingbox does, it allows you to control your home TV whilst you are on the move. You can watch programs live, or if you have a Sky Plus type setup, you can watch recorded programs – basically everything you can do at home you can now do from anywhere in the world over an Internet connection.

What’s in the box

  • Slingbox
  • Power adapter
  • 2 Audio/Video cables
  • Scart adapter
  • S-Video cable
  • IR Control Cable
  • Ethernet cable
  • RF Aerial cable
  • CD-Rom


The box itself is a fairly simple looking affair – all the connections at the back and just a couple of LED’s on the front to confirm it has power and an Internet connection.

The clean front of the Slingbox

Connections across the back of the box

Most users of the Slingbox, in the UK at least, are going to be using it for controlling their Sky box remotely so I’ll talk in those terms. [Though if you look at the SlingMedia site you’ll see that the Slingbox supports lots of other devices].

In general I would imagine that everyone would use the Scart Adaptor, that comes with the box, plugged into one of the Sky outputs. Then the 3 pin Combination Audio/Video cable plugs into that, and then the other end into the input of the Slingbox.

Then you hook up the ethernet cable to your router, plug the IR Cable into the Slingbox and route the cables so that the IR transmitters are pointing at the right part of the Sky Box.

Plug in the power and that’s the box setup done.

You then need to install the software on your PC/Mac to let you setup the box further.

Once the Software is installed it will find your Slingbox on the network and walk you through the setup, all very straightforward.

At the end of the setup process it offers to setup the remote access that will allow you to view your video from anywhere in the world (providing you have Internet access). If you are just planning on sharing the signal around you home network then you don’t need to set this up obviously.

The only other thing you need to setup is the software on the devices you plan on watching your programs with, be it a laptop or a mobile phone.

Computer Requirements

Minimum PC Requirements

  • Microsoft Windows Vista or Windows XP SP2
  • 1.3 GHz processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 150 MB available disk space for installation
  • 24-bit graphics
  • 16-bit sound
  • Network connectivity

Minimum Mac Requirements

  • PowerPC G4/G5 800 MHz or Intel processor
  • Mac OS X v.10.3.9 (or higher recommended)
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 150 MB available disk space for installation
  • Network connectivity

Minimum Network Requirements

  • Cable or DSL modem (for out-of-home viewing)
  • 256 Kbps upstream network speed recommended (higher upstream network speeds yield higher quality video)
  • Home network router – wired or wireless (UPnP compatibility highly recommended)

Audio and Video Sources

One aerial/coaxial antenna and one standard definition audio/video source such as:

  • DVB-T Freeview Set-top Box
  • Digital Cable Set-top Box
  • Aerial/Coaxial Antenna*
  • Digital Video Recorder (DVR) such as Sky, Virgin Media or one provided by your cable/satellite provider
  • DVD Player/Recorder
  • Satellite Receiver such as Sky
  • Video/Security Camera
  • Windows Media Center

*Includes built in Freeview DVB Tuner


Windows or Mac based PC – check

High-speed Internet connection – check
Home network router – check
Want to watch Sky TV on the move – check

So assuming you also have the same checklist, then the Slingbox is an interesting device.

It literally gives you remote control of your Sky TV wherever you have a decent Internet connection. You can be sitting in an airport terminal or your local coffee shop using their WIFI access to watch the latest episode of your favourite soap on your mobile phone. Sitting on a long distance train journey and have time to kill? then watch the movie you recorded last night (assuming the train has WIFI access and isn’t the old rolling stock that so much of the UK still has).

All sounds great, certainly something that could change how people watch their TV.

Out of the box there are a plethora of cables to allow you to hookup your Slingbox – nothing is left to chance, I can’t actually think of a setup that the cables supplied don’t support [apart from HD, but that’s a different product].

Everything connects up really obviously, nothing complicated in that.

And then you reach for the CD to install the software that finishes setting up the device…

In my case, I’ve got a Windows XP system and after putting in the CD it pops up with a menu.

OK, click Install, wait what? That says ‘Download & Install’, surely that can’t be right, someone must have labelled the button wrong.


Nope, that’s right folks, out of the box you have a 40MB download to do before you can setup your box. The CD shipped is the equivalent of a web address. And the kicker? When you ask the software to check for updates, it again opens a webpage in the browser and tells you that you need to download an updated version, and yup it’s ANOTHER 40MB download 😮

Once you get the software down and run the installation it then opens up a wizard to setup the Slingbox. It’s all fairly straight forwards – which country is the Slingbox in, which input on the Slingbox are you using, What is your Television Source (Sky in my case), Brand of the Device you are wanting control, etc.

[Please bear in mind that all these screen caps are missing the actual video as my capture software doesn’t grab it correctly]

slingbox2 slingbox3 slingbox4

slingbox5 slingbox6 slingbox7

slingbox8 slingbox9 

Once that’s all set and you’ve tested the control of the device, then you just setup the box password and the box’s administrator password.

If you are wanting to control the box over the Internet instead of just your local network then first you register with SlingMedia. This will setup an account that keeps track of the IP address of your box on the Internet, which allows you to point your mobile devices to it over the Internet [in one version of the software I played with you could also set the box to use to keep track of the IP address].


A couple more screens to auto-tune the video settings and away you go – it starts up the client program and you are watching and controlling your Sky box over your network.


The actual player

All the settings are reconfigurable from menus in the player, you can either let the player control the amount of network bandwidth the Slingbox uses or manually configure it, you can change your picture to widescreen, letterbox etc – in fact every setting I could think of wanting to play with was there, all very nice.

For viewing you can install clients on Windows XP, Mac OS X or some mobile phone OS’s (Windows Mobile, Symbian S60/UIQ or Palm).

These can connect to your Slingbox either over your local network or over the Internet from wherever you happen to be.

Although I was primarily testing this over my local network on desktop PC’s, I did try the Windows Mobile client (there’s a 30 day demo) and I was very pleasantly surprised – it just worked, what more could you ask 😀

[Obviously be aware that mobile connections to the Internet can be chargeable depending on your connection type and phone contract]


And once it’s all running there’s not a lot to do but kick back and enjoy it.


Picture quality on the desktop is OK, nothing special – but it’s never going to be DVD quality from the input source we are using, which is then compressed. That same picture quality on the mobile screen is far more palatable. [You can look at the new Slingbox HD for higher def solutions]

In both cases I could definitely imagine myself watching programs over the Internet – I’ll happily accept the slight dip in picture quality as a trade-off for being able to watch your own TV anywhere.



  • good selection of cables to hook things up
  • seems to have a very good library for devices it can control


  • 40MB download before you can even start
  • Software downloaded from the CD Link is out of date, so another 40MB download is on the horizon if you want to get up to date


So after the surprising lack of inclusion of the software you need on the included CD the rest of my experience with the Slingbox was very very smooth.

The ability to sit potentially anywhere in the world and not just watch, but also control your TV is very cool in my opinion, and is an excellent addition to any Sky Plus setup to allow you total control over your TV viewing no matter where you are.

Just be sure to warn the people at home you are going to be remotely controlling the setup to avoid freaking them out 😀

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