Slingbox FAQ – Unofficial Help and Advice
Slingbox allows you to watch your TV set-up over the Internet. This page offers help and advice on how to use the Slingbox…
If you’re looking for more information on the Slingbox – try our Slingbox Information page.
The Unofficial Slingbox FAQ:
Some common questions we’re received on the Slingbox:
|Software versions||As of 29 Sept 2007, the UK Slingbox Classic version numbers are:|
Check downloads.slingmedia.com/page/uk for Slingbox software and firmware updates. Software updates from the UK Slingbox site normally include firmware updates, but you can also update firmware from the Sling Player (Slingbox menu > Directory > Edit > Configuration tab).
If you know of a newer version, please let us know.
|Slingbox Software Platforms||Currently, the Sling Player is available for the following Operating Systems:|
|Cost of using Slingbox?||We’ve been asked about the cost of using Slingbox, so here are some useful bits of info:|
|Slingbox on a Windows PC||Slingbox Player software runs on the following Windows platforms:|
|Slingbox on a Pocket PC||There’s a mobile player for Slingbox, that’s been released to run on the Windows Pocket PC 2003 / Windows Mobile v5.0 platform, for use by those with Microsoft-powered PDAs.|
This is available for download from the Slingbox site (on the US software download page, not the UK download page). It’s a 30 day evaluation version, and it costs $29 to register after the 30 day trial.
We installed the US version, and it seems to work perfectly well with our UK PAL Slingbox, allowing us to watch and control our setup – pictured to the right, is us setting Sky+ via the onscreen remote control over a wi-fi connection on the Internet. Great for setting shows when out and about. Tests were done in January 2007 using SlingPlayer Mobile v188.8.131.52 running on an o2 XDA Orbit Pocket PC with a UK Slingbox running firmware v1.0.31.
If you’re looking for a Windows Mobile device with an Internet connection In the UK, you might want to consider a device like one of the T-Mobile MDA range, on the T-Mobile Web ‘ n’ Walk tariff, which offers some of the best data transfer deals at the moment. See t-mobile.co.uk.
|Slingbox for iPhone||If you have a Slingbox, you can now watch the output of your Slingbox on an Apple iPhone.|
You can stream video content via the Sling Player iphone application.
The Slingmedia SlingPlayer application is available from iTunes App Store
|Mobile phone network||We’ve been asked if it’s possible to watch TV via Slingbox over the mobile phone network, either using GPRS or 3G Internet connection. From our tests, the answer is ‘technically, yes’. We’ve been able to connect to a Slingbox using a Qtek s200 Windows Mobile device, using o2’s Mobile Web GPRS service, and a connection is made successfully – unfortunately, the bandwidth of GPRS isn’t good enough to allow streaming video to work smoothly, so although you can watch TV over GPRS, it’s very choppy. It’s certainly good enough to allow setting of Sky+ over GPRS though, which is great.|
If you’re looking at using a Slingbox over a mobile phone network, you need something with a higher bandwidth than GPRS, and in the UK, we’re talking about the 3G network. 3G offers data transfer at a much faster rate (speeds of up to 384kbps), which supports streaming video over the mobile network. The downside, is that costs for using 3G to view streaming video aren’t cheap, and you should check with your network operator to determine the price you’ll be paying. With GPRS or 3G, you normally pay by the megabyte downloaded, or a fixed monthly usage fee.
Fast Mobile Internet? If you want to connect to your Slingbox on the move, it might be worth looking at the T-Mobile Mobile Broadband offering – Their 3G network covers a reasonable amount of the UK. At the time of writing, their Mobile Broadband tariffs provides high speed mobile Internet access using a USB modem or a 3G data card. Speeds of up to 1.8Meg are possible. More at www.t-mobile.co.uk
|Slingbox on a Symbian Mobile||In late 2006, a version of the Sling Player for Symbian smartphones was launched. At the time of writing, the Symbian version is available for OS v9.1, specifically for the Nokia E65 handset.|
Check out UK operator 3’s X Series for details of a package offering Slingbox on a high-speed mobile network and a Symbian phone.
|Connecting with wi-fi||The Slingbox is supplied with an Ethernet port for making a connection to the Internet. But what if you want to go wi-fi? You’ll need to get an ethernet-to-wifi adapter. These are commonly referred to as “Game Adapters”, as they’re most commonly used to connect boxes like the Microsoft X-box to a wireless network.|
We managed to get our system setup with wi-fi quite easily – We’re using the Belkin Wireless G Ethernet Adapter (Model F5D7330) – At the time of writing, the cheapest we could find were at Misco and PC World
To get set up, we first had to connect the Ethernet Adapter to our router, and use the supplied software to set up the Ethernet adapter (setting the IP and WEP encryption). Once done, we then connected the Ethernet Adapter to the Slingbox by ethernet cable, and ran the Slingbox configuration software again from our PC. The software picked up the Slingbox over the wi-fi network (via the router), and let us view TV wirelessly. The slightly more challenging bit, was to get this setup to be accessible outside of our local network – for this, we had to open up ‘port forwarding’ via our router – it’s important to note that you forward to the Slingbox IP and port, and not the IP of the Ethernet Adapter.
If this seems like too much hassle – consider a HomePlug Adapter
|Network cabling||If you want to connect your Slingbox to your Broadband router, you need to use the Slingbox Ethernet connector… But what if your Slingbox is in a different room to the router? You could use wifi, or you could consider using a HomePlug / Powerline adapter. These use your existing in-house electrical wiring – just plug your Slingbox into a HomePlug, and plug the HomePlug into the mains. Another HomePlug is needed near the router – sending the network traffic via the mains socket, and connecting over the mains.|
|Problems with remote connection||Sometimes it can be frustrating when you can’t establish a connection from the outside world to your home Slingbox. Here are a couple of bits of help:|
|Slingbox and Sky Satellite TV||Slingbox works very well with Sky Digital, the UK’s satellite TV provider – the output of your Sky or Sky+ box can be connected to a Slingbox, and can then be sent over the Internet. Typically, you’ll need to take a feed from one of the Sky box’s RF (aerial) outputs and connect to the aerial input on the Slingbox. Make sure the Sky box RF modulator is on.|
We’ve been asked if it’s possible to use Slingbox so that someone at home in the UK can watch one channel using a Sky / Sky+ box, while someone else remotely accesses a different Sky channel. The answer is no, as the Sky boxes can only output one TV channel at a time – and so both local and remote viewers will only be able to watch the same channel at the same time.
If there is a requirement for you to be able to watch one Sky channel remotely, while someone locally watches a different Sky channel, you will need two Sky digiboxes – you could purchase Sky Multi-room – which gives you an extra Sky box.
If it’s not practical to get two Sky boxes, you may find that the channel you’re trying to watch remotely, is available on Freeview. Note that the UK version of the Slingbox has a built-in Freeview receiver, that can get over 40 free-to-view TV channels via a standard home TV aerial. You can watch these Freeview channels remotely over the Internet without disrupting the home-end’s Sky viewing. To get the Freeview channels, you need to be in an area of Freeview coverage, and to connect a TV aerial to the Slingbox. Getting Freeview on a Slingbox is detailed elsewhere on this page.
|Slingbox and Sky+||Slingbox can be used to control Sky+ boxes remotely perfectly – watching recording, setting up recordings and watching TV.|
One user’s reported having a problem setting up remote control for Sky+, so we thought we’d provide a walkthrough of how to set up Sky+ using the Slingbox Audio / Video setup wizard, part of the Slingbox Player software:
|Slingbox and HD||We’ve been asked if there are any limitations if upgrading to Sky HD (high definition), and using Slingbox.|
As far as we understand it – a Sky HD box still has outputs that can be fed into a Slingbox. The Slingbox doesn’t support a high-definition input, so streaming of HD video over the Internet with a Slingbox isn’t supported, but non-HD content can be streamed. As HD only makes up a very tiny percentage of Sky’s output at the moment, this is unlikely to be a limitation at this stage.
|Manual||The manual for the UK Slingbox is available for download as a PDF from support.slingbox.com/go/downloads|
|Slingbox on Cable||Slingbox is compatible with UK cable TV , i.e. Virgin Media (formerly NTL / Telewest)|
|Picture problems||If you’re experiencing picture problems, such as break-ups, image freezes or juddery video, here’s a few things to try. Note that most video streaming problems relate to the speed of the Internet connection at each end, so try to address this first:|
Some other things to try:
|Slingbox on a LAN||We received the following question: “I am interested in purchasing a Slingbox to access TV via PCs on my home network. Is it possible to configure the Slingbox this way, without having to connect over broadband? It would make an ideal way of watching TV on a PDA whilst at home”|
The answer is yes – Slingbox functions well over a network (connected via the same router). As data speeds are better than over Broadband, you get a more stable picture.
|UK TV Licence||We’ve been asked if you need a UK TV licence when using a Slingbox to watch UK TV content.|
Under the Communications Act 2003, you need a valid TV licence to receive or record TV programmes. The UK Slingbox comes into this category, as it has a UK TV tuner on board, so is capable of receiving TV programmes.
There’s an interesting article on the What Satellite and Digital TV website that reports that, as the Slingbox isn’t battery powered, to watch TV via a Slingbox, you need a licence for the new location, as the TV licence covers a location, not a person.
If you have any doubt about licensing and Slingbox, play safe and check at the TV Licensing site.
|Changing channels||We’ve been asked whether, if you’re connected remotely, you can change channels on a set-top box such as Sky… and if so, how…|
The answer is yes, you can change channels of external equipment. You have an on-screen remote control that sends remote commands to your Slingbox. The Slingbox comes with two infrared transmitters that you position in line-of-sight of the infrared senor on your set-top box, so when you press on the virtual remote control the command is send over the Internet to Slingbox, and then via IR to the equipment you’re controlling.
|Other video sources||We’ve been asked if the Slingbox can be used to transmit other sources, such as the output from a games machine like the Nintendo Wii, over the Internet. The answer is, as long as the video source is capable of outputting video (see spec), yes – the video and audio can be sent. The downside is that you will almost certainly not be able to control something like a games console over the connection, as the Slingbox handles remote control by sending commands using infrared.|
|Quality of streaming video||We’re quite often asked about the quality of streaming video over Slingbox, or whether someone overseas on a slow connection will be able to get a high enough throughput to make Slingbox workable. The only real way of getting a feel for the quality and speed of Slingbox video is to see how your PC or Mac handles streaming video. If it can’t cope with streaming video, from a site like BBC News, then Slingbox will be a problem too.|
To give our site visitors an idea, we’ve used our webcam to take a couple of movies to demonstrate Slingbox in action – the quality of our AVI isn’t great, but it’ll give you an idea of the Slingbox experience on a PC. Test was done using a UK Slingbox on a broadband connection with a 4Meg throughput:
The best way to assess Slingbox is to access a real Slingbox feed. As far as we can tell, there isn’t a test feed of Slingbox video available from the UK, but, try asking in our forum – it may be possible for one of the forum regulars to let you have access to their Slingbox briefly for a trial.
If you’re interested in the technical properties of the Slingbox video stream, you might find our screenshot of the Encoding options screen of interest – all values set to maximum, to highlight the max range.
|Speed and bandwidth||We’ve been asked a few questions about data transfer rates, picture quality, and how watching video over Internet with a Slingbox affects broadband accounts that have download usage restrictions (e.g. a 5 Gig a month download usage cap).|
To help explain this, we need to explain the factors that affect video quality using Slingbox – A bit technical, but bear with us. The key factor is the number of bits that can be sent from Slingbox-to-Player. This is measured in kilobits per second, and the playback video quality and screen size decide how many kilobits per second are needed to get a watchable picture on your PC.
It’s important to understand that the upload speed from the Slingbox to the Internet, and the download speed of the Internet connection at the Player end, both affect the overall transfer rate… and it’s the lowest number of the two speed values that’s the important one – for example if you can only upload at 500kbps, an 8meg download at the other end won’t help you get more than 500kbps of data downloaded.
To get an acceptable picture, the Player needs to be getting between 250-750kilobits per second downloaded over the ‘net from a Slingbox.
Regarding broadband accounts with usage restrictions, again, this depends on how much data you’re able to download. Assuming a constant video download rate of 500kbps, this would equate to 0.225 Gigabytes of data per hour – In other words, just under 4 and a half hours of video equals 1 gigabyte of download.
Remember it’s normally your download that’s capped, not your upload – so the place that you watch the Slingbox output is where the download limit could bite you, not the place where you upload. If you’re worried about your cap, consider shifting Broadband providers, perhaps to BT Total Broadband Option 3, or the top TalkTalk package – both offer unlimited downloads.
It’s possible to set the Sling Player to reduce the data rate, so if you’re prepared to live with a reduction of quality (less refreshes and a smaller playback window), then you can drop the data transfer rate, reducing the amount of megabytes downloaded when watching your Slingbox.
Dialup? We’ve also been asked if it’s possible to watch Slingbox over a dial-up connection – As we’ve established above, a watchable picture needs at least 250-500kbps, and a dialup connection is only 56kbps. By reducing the playback screen size and dropping the quality to the lowest setting, you may just be able to get Slingbox to work, but you won’t be impressed by the results.
|Multiple PCs||Q. Can I watch two channels at the same time over a Slingbox?|
Q. Can two people watch the output of Slingbox at the same time?
Q. Can I have the Slingbox software on two different PCs and access the same Slingbox?
|Slingbox on a TV not a PC||Q. Can the Slingbox work on a television screen (not a PC screen) anywhere in the world?|
The Slingbox allows you to view TV via the Internet on a PC (or supported mobile phone), and not a TV set. This is because you need the Sling Player software to watch the output.
However, in 2008, a box called the SlingCatcher was released in the UK. This allows playback of a Slingbox on a TV, not a PC.
As an alternative, it is possible to connect a PC or laptop’s output to a TV. Some TVs (such as the Sony KDL32-S2010) have a “PC input” that can take a feed from a PC or laptop, otherwise there are several PC-to-TV converters out there, such as the Kworld PC to TV Converter USB.
|Alternatives to Slingbox||We’ve been asked about of some of the alternatives to Slingbox. Here are a few thoughts:|
|Recording Slingbox||A question from site visitor James: “I live in New Zealand, and am interested in getting UK Freeview via Slingbox. But, with a typical 12 hour time difference it means that I would have to watch through the night! Can I record the stream from Slingbox in the Sling Player or do I need to record locally at the Slingbox end and then use sling player to play the recorded content?”|
The Slingbox itself doesn’t have any storage space, so can’t record content. The Sling Player software for the PC and Mac doesn’t appear to have any kind of recording option, so there doesn’t seem to be a way of recording Slingbox content remotely for later playback. There are a couple of possible solutions:
Anyone out there have anything to add on this topic? Let us know.
|UK Slingbox outside the UK||We’ve been asked a couple of times if it’s possible to use a UK Slingbox outside of the UK.|
The UK Slingbox uses 240VAC for power, comes with a PAL TV tuner, and is optimised for the UK television frequency range. If the country you’re planning to use a Slingbox supports these specifications, then it should work. We’re not experts in overseas TV systems, so you may find it best to ask about suitability in a specific country in the Slingbox forum. More on using a Freeview receiver abroad in our Freeview Box Overseas FAQ.
|Infrared Remote eyes||We’ve been asked for more details on how the Slingbox is able to control devices. The Slingbox’s built-in Freeview tuner can be controlled by the Sling Player software – but what about other devices that you want to control remotely? Well, the Slingbox comes with two infrared eyes. These plug in to the back of the Slingbox and need to be lined up in front of the infrared window on the device you want to control. There are two eyes, to allow you to control two devices, or to improve infrared signal to one device. They can be stuck in place with supplied sticky pads. Click on the picture to the right to see a close-up of the Slingbox infrared extenders.|
|Reset the Slingbox||To reset the Slingbox back to factory defaults, hold down the Reset button for five seconds. The lights on the front will flash left-to-right quickly, and then slowly, and the restart takes around 30 seconds. |
|Power||The Slingbox is mains-powered, and is supplied with a mains transformer. One recurring question asked by visitors to the site is: “Does the Slingbox have to be plugged in to work?” As with all electrical equipment, the Slingbox requires power to work. If you unplug the Slingbox from the mains supply, it won’t work. Note that the router (that connects to your broadband) will also require power and won’t work without a power supply.|
The supplied mains adapter with the UK Slingbox is rated as follows: 100-2540VAC, 50/60Hz, 0.45A. Output is 6V at 2.45A.
|Freeview Questions||Some questions we’ve been asked about using a UK Slingbox with Freeview.|
Q. I have a Freeview box connected to my TV. If I connect Slingbox, could I watch one Freeview channel while there is a different Freeview channel on my TV? Would I need another aerial connection?
Q. I already have a Freeview box. How will this work?
Q. I can’t get some Freeview channels on my Slingbox
Q. Will the UK Freeview receiver in the Slingbox work in other countries?
|Other questions||A collection of other questions we’ve been asked:|
Q. Is the Slingbox player available for purchase – is it a separate piece of equipment or is it anyone’s laptop or computer screen?
Q. Do I need a static IP address for Slingbox? My home IP changes whenever I connect, so my IP address changes.
Q. Is the Slingbox available in USA or Mexico?
Q. Can I use Slingbox to relay TV from one room in the house to another?
Q. Do I need a fixed IP address to use the Slingbox?
Q. My Sky+ box switches off automatically overnight. Can I still use a Slingbox?
|Got a question?|
If you’re thinking of buying, and have a question about what Slingbox offers, ask in our TV Technical Forum and we’ll try to help
- Slingbox information – How to get and use a Slingbox in the UK
- IPTV – Our page of info on TV over the Internet
- Slingbox on Podcast – Slingbox featured in show 3 of our podcast
- Remote Control – Information on taking control of your TV over the Internet
- On your PC – How to get TV and radio on your PC