SlingPlayer for Mac Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Easy-to-install software; Familiar remote control reproduction; Compatible with Apple hardware (Apple TV, iPod); Software is free, with no monthly service charge

The Cons

Complicated router setup; Hijacks live TV feed from at-home watchers; Inconsistent video quality during remote viewing

Verdict

Sling Media's TV-streaming software device delivers good performance and integration with other Apple hardware.

Until now, Slingboxes have been restricted to Windows operating systems, including Windows XP and Vista, and smart phones, but now you can watch whatever is on live at home (or recorded on a DVR) right on your PowerBook, MacBook,or other Apple machine.

The SlingPlayer for Macintosh works with a number of devices, including Apple TV and any iPod in a dock with an infrared sensor. If you have an infrared port on your Mac, you can set up the IR blaster (infrared blaster) and control Front Row content from wherever you have a SlingPlayer installed--your iTunes library, DVDs, photos and movies are now remotely accessible. SlingPlayer works with any Internet connection, including Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or 3G cellular.
We checked out the Mac software on a PowerBook using our Slingbox AV box. Although Sling Media offers live chat tech support (their hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday. Free phone assistance is also available during the same times), we were able to set up our Slingbox AV and Mac software without any problems. After following the easy setup guide for the Slingbox AV to connect the AV cables, the IR blaster cables, network cable (which plugs into your router), and AC adapter, we downloaded the installation software to our PowerBook. Once downloaded, the Slingbox Setup Assistant window launched immediately to help us configure our TV and Internet settings. It recognized our TV's signal as well as the connected Slingbox, and NBC's Today show (which we were watching on our regular TV set) instantly appeared in a small box on the wizard screen.

We like how the setup wizard walks you through each of the tasks, and we had no problems configuring AV settings or setting our passwords. We especially liked the remote-control setting that lets you configure how many zeros are entered for a channel change. When the SlingPlayer software failed to automatically configure our Linksys routerfor remote viewing, however, we were forced to configure our router's settings manually and make several tweaks to get it up and running. This may be a little much for the average consumer.
Once we set up our remote viewing, we were able to enjoy taking the PowerBook anywhere to watch what was on our digital cable box. We were able to connect to an open Wi-Fi hotspot near our apartment and control our DVR with the easy-to-use remote-control interface that appears on the left side of the application.
Looking very similar to the Time Warner remote in our living room, the remote had familiar controls and allowed us to quickly start watching the episode of Grey's Anatomy we missed the night before. Fast-forwarding through the commercials by clicking on the familiar remote buttons was simple, and the response time when changing channels remotely was quick. Video quality was similar to what we've seen on SlingPlayers running on Windows machines, but the Mac interface definitely gives it a sleeker look.
While the Apple TV is a powerful tool for bringing multimedia content to your big screen, SlingPlayer for Macs lets you take your content with you. So if you're a Mac lover who wants to get your Meredith Grey fix on the run, the SlingPlayer for Mac will give you everything you need.
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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Software Type Multimedia Software