Good pre-purchase questions ! Nearly everything you've asked is covered very well here, but I'll try to add some details from my experience...
What's needed to be able to watch live (real time) DIrect TV from location 1 on a PC and/or HD TV at location 2?
A Slingbox at Location 1 (along with broadband internet- you didn't mention that in your description) and SlingPlayer at Location 2.
There are some choices when it comes to the SlingPlayer on the viewing side at Location 2...
PC/Mac: SlingPlayer is a viewing program that you can install on your computer. It's a free download from support.slingbox.com if it's not in the box. You can also watch in a web browser at watch.slingbox.com.
HDTV: That's a little harder. If you can find one, SlingCatcher is designed to do just that in style. It's a tiny purpose-built computer appliance that runs the SlingPlayer program. It appears to be a discontinued item though, and the prices on aftermarket units are climbing rapidly. The only other option is to use your HDTV as a display with your compatible computer. If you have a way to send a TV OUT signal from your computer to the television, you can use the normal SlingPlayer program like that.
What's needed to be able to watch recorded DIrect TV on a PC and/or HD TV at location 2
As long as your DirecTV box has DVR capability, the requirements are the same as above.
Here's the thing... Slingbox is a television. It's very helpful to think of it like that. Slingbox is a fairly typical modern TV with no screen- it borrows your computer screen for that. It works the same way and has the same capabilities and limitations. If you can do something with a regular TV, you can almost certainly do it with a Slingbox.
Is there some trick or what's needed in order to change channels from location 2, and NOT have the channel change at location 1...
There's no trick to changing channels. SlingPlayer has an on-screen remote control that duplicates the buttons on your DirecTV physical remote. When you click on a button, Slingbox sends the IR command out at Location 1 using an IR Blaster cable. As far as the sat box is concerned, it thinks someone pushed a button from the couch 10 feet away using the physical remote.
Slingbox comes out of the box able to remote control tons of devices. It can't control every device ever made. You should be fine from the start with DirecTV, but have a look here if you want to check the supported device list:
If you look around the forum here, you'll notice lots of folks are getting help with custom remotes for unsupported devices. No guarantees obviously, but if your box is a mainstream device that isn't on the list there's a reasonable chance you'll find help here to get it working.
Watching two different things at the same time is another matter. Remember, Slingbox is a TV. If you connect two regular TVs to the sat box at Location 1 using a splitter, they're going to show the same picture. Change channels with the remote and both TVs follow. This is precisely what would happen with a Slingbox- two TVs sharing one video source.
If you have two sat boxes, that will work. Slingbox uses one, TV at Location 1 uses the other. It would be exactly as if you have a TV in the living room and another in the bedroom, two boxes will let you watch different things on the separate TVs.
A couple tips if you go this way...
- I think DirecTV boxes have the option of using either IR or RF protocols for the remote control. Slingbox can only control IR devices, so the sat box connected to it needs to be in IR mode for things to work right. This only affects the sat box your Sling is connected to.
- Slingbox may be a TV, but it has passthough connectors on the back (basically, a splitter). If you go with a second sat box to feed the Sling, you can hook a regular TV up too, so no worries about getting a sat box that does "nothing" in an obscure corner of the house. In short, two sat boxes means you can watch two regular TVs at Location 1. Slingbox would have shared control over one.
- Unless you prefer things this way, I can't imagine you would need a new DirecTV service account. Just add a second box to the existing account.
Is there a checklist of items that someone can offer that I can run through before making a purchase so that I can be more confident that I'll be able to accomplish my slingbox goals?
Probably, but I think it'll be easier if you say what your Slingbox goals are and let the forum address that. I'm sure you can appreciate that your question as written is rather open-ended !
- Slingbox is a TV. It uses your computer as it's screen. Assuming the minimum network requirements are met, it lets you watch and control your home video sources from anywhere just like you were sitting on the couch in front of it.
- UPLOAD SPEED is critical at the Slingbox location. More = Better. Since it's sending a video stream up to the internet, it needs upload bandwidth. This is normally a different rate than the download speed on home broadband internet service. Sustained speeds between the Slingbox and Player of 1 Mpbs or higher will give great results in my experience. Above 700 kbps is very good. 600 kbps or below isn't ideal but it's usually good enough to enjoy the show. Slingbox automatically monitors and adjusts the streaming parameters to do the best it can with whatever size pipe it has to work with. This is the most significant influence to overall viewing quality.
- Read reviews. Google "review slingbox PRO HD" or "review slingbox SOLO", those are the two current models. Personally, I like amazon.com and newegg.com for features, specs and customer reviews. You'll find plenty of blog/magazine articles in the search results if that's how you roll. placeshiftingenthusiasts.com is another useful discussion site for Place-shifting in general, including Slingboxes.
How to check for -
- Competibiliity between existing equipment and Slingbox related equipment/services
If your existing equipment is designed to be connected to a regular TV, there aren't any compatibility issues. Remote control is a related but separate matter. I talked about that above. Post back if you come up with any specific questions.
- Necessary internet upload speedCovered that above in general, but have a look here for specifics. Bear in mind that there can be a notable difference between "recommended" and "works". If you hit the recommended speeds though, it'll behave nicely.
- What else should I check or know about before purchasing (Router configuration changes needed? Wired/Wireless connection related issues?)Most of the time for viewing on the local network and initial configuration, just plug everything in and run the Setup Assistant at setup.slingbox.com. You must be on the local network for this, can't do it from remote. Sometimes a few manual configurations are necessary, particularly with routers and setting up remote (internet) viewing. That comes down to adding a port forwarding rule to your router's config. Wired/Wireless... Slingbox likes- no, expects- a wired ethernet connection to the router. There are a couple ways around this, but if at all possible just use an ethernet cable.
Any other product suggestions that I should consider to make things easier, better?
There are two models currently being sold: Pro HD and SOLO. GET THE PRO HD. It has the most features. It has the most flexibility with different types of video sources. My friends with Pro HDs have screamed "HELP!!!!!" in my direction less often than those with the other model.
Hope this helps,
AZ answered everything perfectly, but being I have 3 Slingboxes in 2 locations all on D* I figured I'd add my thoughts. The most important thing is the UPLOAD speed, check what speed you'd have at your parents for uploading. The better the speed the better the quality will be, if you plan to watch any sports on it you'd really want a great upload (and stable) speed. Next remember with a D* box (I am guessing an HR2X) if you change the channel they will also see the channel changed, so you may want to look into getting a extra box just for your Slingbox to use. The other benefit to the ProHD is it has a built in tuner that would work if they are in an area you could put up an OTA antenna as well. Hope that helps you a little bit.
Hi, I've looked through the forums and I'm a bit confused. I'm going to Israel and I'm interested in purchasing a slingbx product but I'm unsure as to which one I need in order to watch American television overseas from my Mac. Do I need a slingbox pro, the catcher? How does it all work? I've read through the products but I'm still slightly confused about which product I actually need as I don't want to purchase more than what I would truly need. Hopefully, someone can help me!
Either the Slingbox Pro Solo or Slingbox Pro HD, attached to a TV signal at your USA location AND to an internet service at that same location with sufficient upload speed (very important) would allow you to watch TV programs on your computer in Israel, and, for that matter, anywhere else in internet land where you can connect your computer to a high speed internet connection. As noted in earlier posts to this (and other) threads, it is best if the Slingbox is connected to the router at your USA location with an Ethernet cable (not via a wireless connection), and the UPLOAD SPEED for the internet service at your USA location is at least 1 mbps. You can test the upload speed of the internet service provider at the USA location where your Slingbox would be located by connecting a computer to that local area network and running a speed test at websites such as www.speakeasy.net/speedtest. Note that this is not an absolute minimum upload speed -- I routinely get 350 kbps upload speed from the internet service provider where my Slingbox Pro HD is located, and the video and audio streams are certainly acceptable when I watch programs with my laptop through its Internet Explorer or Firefox web browser pointed at http://watch.slingbox.com from nearly every location around the USA that I have tested so far -- including other homes, McDonalds, airports, etc.. However, this upload speed would probably not be fast enough to watch high-definition TV signals without video stuttering, stalling, or freeze-ups; but I'm satisfied for now with watching standard definition video only.
As noted by other posters as well, you must physically set up the Slingbox at your USA location AND run the initial setup software at this physical location when you first install the Slingbox -- you can't do the setup remotely via a computer attached to the internet in Israel or any other location that is outside of the local area network where the Slingbox resides.
You also want to be sure that the Slingbox has plenty of air circulation around it -- they can run "hot" and overheating could damage the Slingbox or the power adapter and cause the streaming signal or the Slingbox's connection to the Internet to fail -- and the power adapter should be plugged directly into a wall outlet (not an extension busbar).
Lastly, you might need to check with your ISP -- both at the USA end and the Israeli end -- to see if they have any significant limits on the amount of data that can be sent per week, per month, etc. through their network by individual subscribers. If you plan to watch many hours of streamed TV every day, you could be looking at sending several tens (hundreds?) of gigabytes of data per month, for which your ISP might add excess data transfer charges to your account.
Hi, so I can't use the Slingbox Media Solo? It has to be the pro? Also, I'm moving to Israel for a few months, so I wont have cable connected at my USA address, so I'm confused as to what or why I need it connected in the USA. Would you mind just explaining to me a bit better. Sorry I'm just trying to understand it completely, before I go ahead an purchase it. I would need to have it connected outside of Israel in order to be able to watch USA television?