Jim Bray on Slingbox TV for travellers
- October 10, 2007 2:58 PM |
- By Michael Hlinka
Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).
By Jim Bray, writer of the technofile.com website in Calgary
(Listen to the original audio)
I don't know about you, but I hate hotel televisions.
Well, I mean I hate the type of TV and TV service found in the level of hotel I can usually afford to stay at, the generic chains that cater to travelers who don't arrive in Porsches. Last month, I stayed at a place in Backwater, British Columbia, where the room was fine but the TV was something I wouldn't wish on a blind person - and I don't mean someone who sells window coverings for a living. The signal had more noise than, well, this commentary; the snow was so bad I thought I'd been caught in an early avalanche.
Fortunately, my son had turned me onto the Slingbox, which just may be one of the niftiest gadgets for the business traveler I've seen. With it, you can ignore that aging hunk of plastic and glass in the credenza and not have to search through the hotel room's drawers and documentation for a channel list that, seven times out of 10, isn't there anyway.
The Slingbox is a hardware-and-software solution that lets you take your home or office television service with you, wherever on earth (or, eventually, off earth) you may travel. All you need is the notebook computer you undoubtedly have with you anyway, and the high speed internet connection every hotel worth its salt offers these days.
We hooked the $260 Slingbox into my Bell Expressvu satellite receiver before we left home and stuck its infrared sender in front of the satellite box. Then we plugged it into our cable modem, installed the software onto our PCs, fired up the box, and headed for the coast.
In the hotel, I perched my PC where I could see it from the bed and fired up the software, which brought up a video window I could expand to its full-screen, wide-screen glory - and you can get a high definition version, too - with a virtual remote control that let me change channels just like I would at home.
So instead of having to veg out on a crummy old TV after a hard day of travel, I could watch all of the right wing subversion I wanted, streaming right from my home office. It was great! And because your location is irrelevant to the internet, the Slingbox will send TV to wherever you are, including to your mobile phone (though I can't imagine watching the Grey Cup on a three-inch screen).
If your business takes you to foreign countries a lot, where the local TV is either not in English or doesn't let you find out what's happening back home, the Slingbox could be the greatest thing since cellular telephones. You might find time zone differences confusing, but you can use the Slingbox with a your PVR and time shift to your heart's content.
Now all we need is something worth watching other than Seinfeld and Simpsons reruns!
- Jim Bray
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