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One in particular is a row of square along the bottom where you can drag and drop the logos for your favourite channels for one click access. Next to the maximise button at the top right you’ve also got a Dock Left and Dock Right option so you can place the software to one side of the screen. You can have the player full screen or drag it to any size your want though inevitably the larger you make it the worse the picture is likely to look.
The player has three skins to choose from including a Mac-like brushed metal look. Ironically however, there’s no actual Mac support at present, though the web site states that it’s been worked on.
There are two ways of connecting to your Slingbox from outside your network. You either input your Finder ID, which you can find in the Properties dialogue box of the SlingPlayer software, or you can input your world facing IP address though you’ll have to alter this if your IP address changes regularly, and could leave you stuck if it changes while you’re away from access to your Slingbox. You then just enter a username and password, which you’ll have set up in advance at home.
When testing within my home network on my PC, which was connected to the network via a wireless adaptor, with Sky+ as a source, I found that picture quality was excellent, even full screen.
The SlingStream is the automatic network optimisation tool and had three settings for Low, Medium and High action. With the World Cup being the main viewing material at the moment, I left it at High Action most of the time. The software indicates the bit-rate at the time and delivered around 1,500kpbs at 25fps. However, when switching to the built-in DVB-T tuner the picture quality was not as good and the bit-rate dropped too, presumably as it adjusts to the lower quality source. However, with SlingStream enabled the bit-rate will adjust on the fly as more bandwidth becomes available or rescues. This is important when bandwidth is variable such as a Wi-Fi in a hotel.
While all the talk these days is of High Definition it’s worth noting that the Slingbox will only encode at up to PAL resolutions or NTSC for the US version, which has a lower resolution. It will work with HD set-top boxes but only if their S-Video or composite outputs can downscale to SD.
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