Slingbox SOLO media streamer

The Slingbox SOLO from Sling Media is the company's entry-level offering for people that like the idea of being able to watch their own television anywhere around the world but without going for the full blown Slingbox PRO. So have corners been cut or is this great for giving you a taster? We get watching, remotely of course, to find out.

The SOLO, which launched simultaneously in the UK and US will replace the original model, and gives customers the ability to connect one A/V device via a component, S-Video, or composite connection.

According to Sling Media, "this product is targeted at the consumer with a standard or high definition set top box or DVR in their home rather than the home cinema enthusiast".

For those not entire sure what the Slingbox SOLO does, like the Slingbox PRO, it allows you to watch and control your home cable, satellite or digital video recorder (DVR) anywhere you can access the Internet and comes with improved streaming capabilities up to 8Mbps, support for widescreen playback, accepts inputs from high definition set-top boxes.

Amongst a barrage of wires you basically connect just one device like your Sky box to the largish black box and away you go.

Once connected to the relevant box, you'll need to connect it to your router, no Wi-Fi unfortunately, and then it's on to setting-up the software.

Software, which is currently available for PC, Mac, Windows Mobile 6 and Symbian S60 handsets (with the promise of BlackBerry support coming) takes about 5 minutes to run through the set-up as long as you've got a modern router and involves making sure that all the devices are talking to the Slingbox.

Unlike the Slingbox PRO, the SOLO doesn't feature an in-built Freeview tuner.

Where the system comes into its own is being able to watch programmes already saved on Sky+, as you have complete control over the box.

Being stuck in a hotel in a foreign country with no TV but a decent internet connection and you can see the appeal of being able to catch up with the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy that you have recorded.

As for the quality, it's top notch. While we had mixed results with setup on the two different networks we tried when in came to enabling remote viewing; the first, working with ZyXEL worked perfectly in minutes, while the second, tested with a Netgear caused major frustration. Once it was working we had no problems connecting into our Slingbox PRO be it on the same network, a different Wi-Fi network, via the Starbucks up the road and most impressively on our 3G card, although we aren't looking forward to the bill at the end of the month.

Verdict

Although the set-up does require you to pay attention to make sure you've plugged everything in correctly and will leave even more wires dangling behind your TV stand, the results are worth the effort if you want to watch your TV elsewhere be it in a Wi-Fi hotspot or merely in another room.

Compared to the PRO and the offering is considerably cut down, if all you are looking to do it connect it to your Freeview or Sky box then this will do nicely.