SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone

So you've have a Slingbox and you want to watch the content either from the other side of the world or merely up in your bedroom.

While you can opt for the company's Sling Catcher offering for your TV or merely watch the streamed content on your laptop, both are big and clunky. I mean do you really want to sit in your bed with your laptop on your duvet? No.

So the answer is a mobile version of the software that lets you use the 3.5-inch screen of your iPhone or iPod touch instead.

Downloading the £18 app for your iPhone/iPod from the App store is as easy as you might expect and set-up, as long as you already have a Slingbox is a cinch. You'll have to fill in some forms online, link your Slingbox - it works will all of them - to the account and then sign-in on the app once you've got everything in place. But once you've done that you are good for all time.

Doing so means you can then stream whatever you've got connected to your Slingbox to your iPhone/iPod touch to watch wherever you happen to be. We say wherever, but in reality that actually means wherever there is a Wi-Fi network as neither O2 in the UK nor AT&T in the US allow streaming over 3G. It's to do with high amounts of data and the network probably not being able to cope.

Get past that - it's still perfectly good for your home for example - and you get full, if not a little basic, control of what to watch.

Just like the desktop player you are used to, logging on to the box starts the stream. Touching the display pops-up a menu interface that lets you create and store a series of favourites, access the remote, access a keypad, open up the guide to your PVR, customise the options and of course disconnect from the feed.

The controls themselves are fairly straightforward with the chance to scroll through a series of controls by using your finger. Disappointingly you don't get a remote control that looks like your remote for your TV (as you do with the desktop version) and this can be confusing to start with. In our testing we haven't had any issue accessing any area of the Sky HD box we've got it connected to so it's not that confusing.

To make things easier, as navigating around the EPG is rather slow, you can create a series of favourite channels, which you can then hop to rather than scrolling through menu after menu every time.

These can be automatically created or manually preset by you and it certainly makes a difference, especially if you watch a pre-determined set of channels on a regular basis.

The options menu gives you the usual array of options including audio settings, picture quality and whether or not you want to view in letterbox or standard. As neither fill the screen completely it's really up to you whether you want black bars on the top or on the side.

Watching streaming movies in letterbox mode is better although your picture will be surrounded by a sea of black, still at least it won't be stretched top to bottom.

Likewise SQ (stands for standard quality) or HQ (for higher quality) is really a no brainer - if your stream can take it, HQ is the better option, although before you ask, it doesn't make any difference if you are streaming HD content or not - the end picture looks good either way.

Verdict

At £18 or $29.99 in the US, the SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone is on the pricey side, especially when you can't stream from your Slingbox over a 3G network thanks to the operators (you can on other mobile offerings from SlingMedia for Symbian or BlackBerry).

That said, the option of watching TV away from the TV, or even on the TV if you go as far as opting for a TV out cable (we weren't able to try this) is a compelling one making this an option certainly worth considering if you want to stream content from your TV in the lounge to somewhere in the house or elsewhere on the globe.


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