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Slice Of Slingbox

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Placeshifting. As much as it sounds like something an advanced alien species try in a sci-fi flick, it's actually quite a compelling concept that sees life in the Slingbox range of products. The idea that you could use a PC, smartphone or tablet to control your cable/satellite box and…wait for it… stream whatever's showing on your TV to any of these devices no matter where you are in the world! I took the Slingbox PRO-HD, (the high definition variant of the Slingbox) for a spin to see just how well it delivers on its seemingly far-fetched ambitions.
Pull the PRO-HD out and you're immediately confronted with a ton of analog input and output sockets. For the AV geeks, that's ports for power input and ethernet, an unused USB host port, then the SD inputs (L/R audio, video and S-Video), the HD inputs (L/R audio, S/PDIF and component video), the IR blaster port and then coaxial input/outputs. Notably missing is HDMI - I can understand such a choice for the standard definition (SD) variant of the product, but on the HD variant, I'd imagine at least one HDMI port would be about par. With no integrated Wi-Fi, you will need to connect it using a wired connection, or invest in an additional wireless hardware (something called a SlingLink) to connect to your Internet connection.
Sling supply a set of cables for each type of connection, so that you can connect up the Slingbox and then route it back to your TV, plus there are also four IR blasters, L-shaped self-adhesive plastic sticks which can be used to control sources like satellite TV boxes via the virtual remote control in the SlingPlayer software. Working through the onerous task of configuring the remote to control your devices (you may have to hunt the forums for remote codes specific to your set-top box) and then finally the Internet connectivity was enough to test my patience. If you can set this baby up, that's more than half the battle won.
Remote viewing on your PC is free, but you'll need to cough up extra for any iOS or Android device you want to use to watch your TV while on the go. Sling recommends a fast broadband connection (2 Mbps or more) for streaming HD video, though for most regular SD content, a slower connection will do – and if you're consuming content on a smartphone, the SlingPlayer client will automatically adjust bitrate according to network capacity. All said and done, the quality of the streamed video remained consistently good, be it on a smartphone, tablet or PC. Just keep in mind that much like other place-shifting devices, the Slingbox monopolizes the set-top box to which it is attached, so if you log in remotely to switch to Star World to watch the latest sitcom episode, anybody watching the TV will be forced to watch that channel as well. Likewise, if they switch back to another channel, the Slingbox feed will change, too. Also, remember that streaming works only to one client at a time.
Once the novelty of the concept wears off, and you start factoring in the costs of having a fast connection on both ends and crippling fair use data policies in effect with most ISPs, what remains is product that appeals to a small niche of well-heeled geeks for whom watching that 9 pm soap is paramount, no matter where they are in the world. Clearly a product that needs a local reality check.
Rating: 6/10
Price: Slingbox PRO-HD: Rs. 14,999/-, Slingbox 120 (Standard Definition): Rs. 7,999/-

Feast For Fifa Fans
Capturing the essence of the world's most popular game is a daunting task for any game developer and Electronic Arts rises to the occasion to deliver FIFA 12, the latest in a rich heritage of football oriented titles. FIFA 12 injects a shot of realism into the gameplay, something even long time FIFA fans will appreciate. With three major changes to match dynamics - close control, the player impact engine and the new tactical defending option – the gameplay feels a lot more like the matches you watch on TV, and less a game, not to mention the glorious element of unpredictability that the real game packs in.
Outside the matches, the footie fanatic can indulge themselves in managing their teams, pitting them against online leaderboards to track how well your choice of players is doing, a move that bodes well for continued gameplay and longevity of the game title.
Rating: 8/10
Price: Rs. 2,499/- for consoles

A Tab On The Price 
The Reliance Tab and the Beetel Magiq have company, this time courtesy a tablet from PC major HCL. Priced at Rs. 10,990, the X1's brushed aluminum finish makes it look like something for which you've paid a fair bit more. At 7-inches, it is comfortable to hold and lug around and use, though the button placement is a little awkward and takes getting used to. Specs are passable when you consider the price, and that it packs in Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) is refreshing.
HCL's done a good job of packing the X1 with lots of local applications such as apps for Cleartrip, Bookmyshow and many of these ship with special offers if you use the app to make your purchases. Noticeably absent though is the Android Market – though HCL has thousands of custom apps on the ME Apps Store and allows you to load Android app files directly as well. Net net, as an India targeted tablet, the X1 is a good attempt at the budget tablet category.
Rating: 8/10
Price: Rs. 10,990/-

The Cool Connect
Having multiple TVs in the house usually means buying set top boxes, DVD players for each. What if you just want flexibility in where you watch the content? With the the MyWirelessTV Multi-Room Wireless HD Video Kit, Actiontec delivers a product that can stream full HD video from the source in one room to the TV in another room without having to run wires. So you can share your DVD and media players from one location to all the TVs in your house. Best of all, the kit comes with its own wireless connection and doesn't even need to be set up to connect to your home network!
Price: $229.99

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