Slingbox To Get Cellular Option

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For its next act, start-up Sling Media will let consumers control and watch their home theater systems from a cellphone from any place where they have cellular service.

The company's set-top Slingbox, available since June at an everyday $249, lets consumers watch their home cable TV or satellite TV programs or digital video recorder from any Internet-connected Windows PC loaded with Sling Media software. By the end of the year, the company hopes to offer a cellular version of its remote-viewing software for smartphones and PDA phones running on a Windows Mobile OS.

The company recently demonstrated a prototype of its over-the-air downloadable application on a Sprint CDMA 1x EV-DO phone streaming at 200Kbps at 25 frames per second. The app, however, will function on any Windows Mobile-based phone or PocketPC PDA, and can connect over any type of digital data network, including Wi-Fi, said product management VP Jeremy Toeman. “The key factor is bandwidth. If you have a small screen, a CDMA 1x connection will look okay. However, newer devices with much larger screens need better networks, such as CDMA 1x EV-DO. For a watchable/acceptable stream on these devices, the Slingbox needs about 120Kbps or higher.”

The original 1.6-inch by 10.6-inch by 4-inch Slingbox is equipped with analog audio and video inputs and outputs for connection to home theater video components, an Ethernet port for connection to a broadband modem, and an IR emitter to control a connected video source. A new version can control up to three connected video sources, although a user can stream only one source at a time.

Like before, the Sling Box converts analog audio and video into Windows Media Video for Internet transmission. Also like before, the remote PC must be outfitted with Sling Media software to control a home theater system from afar, and the PC can't record the streamed content. It also features a built-in NTSC tuner.

The Slingbox is available at CompUSA, Best Buy and their online sites CompUSA.com and BestBuy.com.

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