"TV anywhere? You bet!"4.5 starson by audiophilesubs
Pros: Ability to watch/control TV/STB remotely, acceptable video quality, ease of use, no monthly fees
Cons: few inputs, some lag time in remote control
Summary: If you have cable or satellite and are on the road much at all, I don't know why you wouldn't buy a Slingbox. My job requires a fair amount of travel for extended periods of time; so, paying for cable or satellite is a tough pill to swallow since I'm only home for roughly half the time. With the ability to watch MY TV remotely, this Slingbox pays for itself in making the most of my TV and internet subscriptions!
So, enough about me...this is about the Slingbox. The unit is about the size of a Lean Cuisine TV dinner. It's an attractive box with a clean exterior and inputs on the rear. Once you have everything set, you can truly hide it away, but I actually like having it out. It's certainly no eye-sore.
Set up is a breeze. Connect the composite or S-video input from your source unit to the player, the power cord, the ethernet cable, and the IR sensors over your box -- this is what gives the Slingbox control of your STB. After that, you're ready to install the software on your computer and watch TV in a few minutes.
Setting up the box for remote viewing gave me a few hangups. The weird part is that it kept telling me that the router couldn't be configured, leaving me frustrated as I went back to the office, but worked when I tried it out! I'm far from the most computer savvy person in the world; so, I can't exactly account for the discrepancy in what my computer was telling me vs receiving a signal at the office. Hey, as long as it works!
But the video quality is surprisingly good. I have a pretty fast cable connection at home with upload speeds ~300 kb/s, and video comes through pretty smoothly. It's definitely not perfect, but for what it does and what you pay, it's pretty darn impressive. I personally found that turning the optimizer and smoother off and "lowering" the video quality to "High Quality Mode" (2nd to last setting) resulted in minimal buffering freezes with no discernable degradation in video quality outside of full screen.
As video compression continues to improve, I'm sure that the slingbox can and will get better, but even as is, this is a MUST HAVE for anyone who travels frequently. The only reason I don't give it a 10 is that nothing's perfect. I'd give it a 9 with this breakdown:
Video Quality: 7