Changing The Way We Watch TV

Alison Young
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July 09, 2005
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I knew this day would come eventually. Somebody finally came out with a box that allows you to watch your television from literally anywhere, as long as you have a high-speed Internet connection.

Sling Media Inc., a digital lifestyle electronics company, has made this possible with its latest innovation, the Slingbox Personal Broadcaster. As long as you have a PC that runs on Windows XP (unfortunately not available on any other software platform yet), it gives you access anytime, anywhere, to your own living room TV.

The Slingbox works by redirecting or “placeshifting” a single live television stream from a cable box, satellite receiver or personal video recorder (PVR), such as a TiVo, to your Internet-connected PC located anywhere you are through your home network router. It physically fits right into your existing television and network infrastructure in four easy-to-follow steps. Once everything is plugged in, it’s controlled with SlingPlayer.

SlingPlayer encompasses several features: SlingStream, SlingRemote and SlingBar. SlingStream is a streaming technology designed to optimize playback by monitoring your connection speed and adjusts the video compression to match the available network bandwidth . SlingRemote is a virtual remote control that displays the butt ons found on the remote control of the source connected to your Slingbox. If a PVR is connected, you can use it to play your recorded programs and control just about everything, even schedule programs to record. The SlingBar provides a convenient way to watch television while simultaneously using your computer for other functions.

The Slingbox is definitely a groundbreaking piece of equipment that will change the way you watch television. It’s perfect for any TV or sports junkie and anyone who travels a lot. Some drawbacks are that there is no wireless support, and it monopolizes the device that’s attached, it may not have necessary infrared codes to fully operate your cable box and the fact that it only works with Windows XP so far.

In the near future, the SlingPlayer software will be available for Macintosh as well as select PDAs and smart phones. Take control of your TV and get a Slingbox of your own for $249.99 at CompUSA or

Solar Power Keeps The Music Going I’m always out on the road, and rarely near a power outlet unless I’m at home or sometimes at work. I found a solar charger that’s perfect with Hawaii’s sunny skies to charge my iPod. The Better Energy Systems Solio allows me do my part in saving the planet by harnessing solar power to recharge my toys.

It’s so small and so convenient, it fits easily in my purse — I’ll take it with me next time I travel or go to the beach. It’s also ideal for long hikes or even boating. The Solio is weatherproof and weighs 5.8 ounces. Its unique fan blade design allows it to achieve maximum solar area when in use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that well when it gets cloudy or if you’re in the shade. You need direct, bright sunlight in order for it to work properly. When there’s no sunlight available, you can recharge its internal battery by plugging it into an AC outlet. Otherwise, it takes anywhere from six to nine hours to fully recharge with the sun’s power.

Solio has a convenient interchangeable adapter system that allows you to charge a whole array of mobile devices, including an array of cellular phones, PDAs and mp3 digital music players. But you need to buy each one separately. There’s even an adapter available for a Nintendo Game Boy. For you Mac fans, its white shell will match with your white iPod, white computer — even your white socks.

The Solio has a handy hole in the middle, the perfect size for a pen or pencil, and makes it easy to balance so you can face it toward the sun off your balcony or car’s dashboard. It looks cool, and it helps the environment. The Solio is the most effective and compact charger out there on the market with its own fully integrated lithium ion battery. It received four out of five stars on a Macworld review. Since Macworld is a big authority on products such as this, that’s outstanding!

Get access to your own personal solar power supply at for $99.99. In addition, each adapter is $19.99.

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