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A Slingbox™ is a type of streaming device for television, which lets a user view whatever input devices are hooked into the Slingbox™ through any high-speed internet connection. This means that one can use the device to watch television on their computer at home, but also means they can set up the Slingbox™ to broadcast their home television so that they can watch it from a hotel room halfway around the world. Although the devices have not yet seen a widespread acceptance in the consumer market, they are very popular among early technology adopters, and many reviewers have suggested that equivalent devices will soon be commonplace.
Because of copyright issues, the Slingbox™ cannot be set up to broadcast channels out freely to computer devices. If this were the case, broadband connections could in theory then be used in tandem with a single cable account to provide free cable to anyone with an internet connection. To prevent this, the Slingbox™ only allows a single user to be logged in at any given time, making it more equivalent to watching your television directly from a long distance. This technique, in which the restrictions on content viewing remain intact even while being filtered through remote technology, is known as placeshifting.
The Slingbox™ can hook into a television source, broadcasting the signal shown on the television out to either a local network or a remote network over a highspeed connection. The television is controlled via an infrared cable, which can be remotely controlled through the Slingbox™ interface. For example, if you had a digital video recorder, a cable box, and a satellite, the Slingbox™ could be set up to give you control over all of these remotely. You would simply log in to the Slingbox™ set, and would be shown a digital representation of the remote for the device in question, which you could navigate with the mouse or keyboard to change channels.
On desktops, Slingbox™ can be used in either Windows or Mac OSX. The software includes limited buffering and storage capabilities, allowing for fast-forwarding briefly, rewinding up to one hour, and pausing video as it is playing. Slingbox™ also provides a clip sharing feature, where users can share limited clips from shows they are watching through a simple and easy-to-use interface. There is third-party software which allows users to capture and record their feeds, but Slingbox™ is regularly releasing new encryption and patches to try to put an end to this.
A number of mobile devices also have support for Slingbox™, allowing users to watch and control their home televisions via their mobile phone or other mobile device. The iPhone, for example, has a Slingbox™ player available, and a number of Blackberries also have player capability. Other mobile operating systems and devices that support Slingbox™ include Windows Mobile, Nokia Symbian OS, and Palm OS.