Hippo Manchester
October 6, 2005

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Want to watch cable in every nook and cranny?

Gadgets abound that will help you bilk the cable company out of those multiple hookup charges

By John “jaQ” Andrews    jandrews@hippopress.com

TV is awesome, isn’t it?

You come home and all your friends are there, right in that magic glowing box. And they’re so funny all the time! Or possibly angstful, or scheming. But in such an entertaining way. It’s always been such a shame that you couldn’t take them out with you.

Until now.

Sling Media (www.slingmedia.com) has come up with the idea of attaching a box to your television that streams the signal over your broadband connection. You can then view that stream wherever you are, as long as you have a computer and Internet access. The Slingbox, as it’s called, costs about $250 and, amazingly, has no monthly fees.

I’m sure the cable companies will come up with some way to destroy this technology eventually, but for now, it’s an incredibly simple concept. You pay for your cable television subscription, so why shouldn’t you be able to watch it anywhere? Sling Media calls this concept “placeshifting,” in a clever bit of wordsmithing that calls to mind “timeshifting,” the concept that allowed VCRs to tape programs for your later viewing pleasure without infringing on the content producers’ rights.

The actual installation is little more complicated than that VCR of yore. Hook up the cable straight from the wall, or from your cable box, satellite receiver or DVR. Then connect back to that same device or to the TV. Also connect the Slingbox to your home network router, which of course is connected to your broadband Internet service with at least 256kbps upload speed. Instant video server.

Groovy.

Using Windows software (they promise Mac, PDA and smartphone software real, real soon), you can then watch any channel you’ve paid for. A virtual remote control even lets you watch programs you’ve recorded on your DVR.

“But Mr. Andrews,” you ask respectfully, “I only want to watch TV upstairs. Do I really need to spend so much and connect through the Internets?”

Of course not. For more local television rebroadcast chicanery, there’s a $50 solution available at your fine local electronics retail establishment. It’s called a Wireless Video Sender, and it involves two little deviceamatrons that speak to each other through walls and even thin air!

One hooks up to your cable box/VCR/etc. via RCA connectors. The other connects to your second television, up to 100 feet away. Whatever signal is coming through the first deviceamatron, that’s what you see and hear on your second TV.

That means, unfortunately, that you probably won’t be able to change channels — unless you also buy a Remote Sender, which transmits your remote control signal.

X10 makes a Wireless Video Sender, which is rebranded for RCA and Radio Shack. Lorex also makes a version. No matter which brand you go with, you’ll get your fix of sweet, calming TV. Mmm.