Portability and personal choice are the buzz words of today with people pushing more and more for their technology to work anywhere and give them what they want when they want it. This is a trend that was typified by SlingMedia's original SlingBox products. These boxes allowed you to grab the TV, or some other form of video, signal from your home and stream it across the Internet to wherever you were in the world. The software let you control your AV devices from afar, by using IR repeaters to emulate your remotes, keeping you in charge of what you wanted to view
Now there's a new addition to the SlingMedia lineup, the SlingCatcher. This extends the SlingBox concept from just watching your streaming media on computer screens to viewing it on a conventional TV.
The way we see it, this has two main uses. First, you may have a second home of some description in another country where, let's just say, the local TV isn't quite to your taste. Having one of these little boxes plugged in enables you to remotely browse through your favourite TV channels from back home, start a movie playing on your DVD player, or set something playing on your Sky+ box, all from the other side of the world.
Alternatively it provides you with a way of extending the full functionality of the AV setup in your living room (i.e. TV tuner, Sky+, DVD player, PVR, Blu-ray player) to another room in your house without the need for extra Sky boxes, aerial connections, or players of any sort.
On top of the SlingBox ability, the SlingCatcher can also be used to stream video straight from your computer, and also play back video and audio files from USB devices.
The box itself is suitably small with dimensions of 235 x 185 x 45mm so will tuck away out of sight quite easily. This being something you might want to do simply because the styling is definitely an acquired taste. At least is feels sturdy and well-made.
Unfortunately there's one obvious reason why you won't be able to hide it away completely, that being it uses an IR remote so the sensor on the front will need to be visible to the remote.
Being as this box will only ever find itself connected to one TV at a time, the selection of outputs on the back is entirely adequate - you get HDMI, component, S-Video, composite video, analogue audio and a coaxial SP/DIF. There's also a converter in the box that will transpose composite video and analogue audio into SCART, should you have a TV that only supports the latter. Accompanying the various audio and video outputs are a couple of USB ports and of course an Ethernet connection. Wireless connectivity isn't included so you will have to rely on either some sort of wireless-to-Ethernet bridge or a PowerLine or HomePlug networking device, which uses your electricity cables to create a network. SlingMedia has its own HomePlug based SlingLinks but any generic such device will do.