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Slingbox launches in UK

Access-anywhere TV in time for World Cup

Slingbox - an add-on to your home TV and DVD setup that enables you to watch live or recorded TV and video from anywhere in the world - makes its UK debut today.

Those worried about missing vital programming - be it crucial England World Cup fixtures or developments in the Big Brother house - while trekking round less fixated countries will be able to keep up with the action after all.

Both a £180 Slingbox - that you log-in to and watch remotely on a laptop or PC - and the SlingPlayer - a downloadable app for viewing live and recorded TV and video on a handheld or mobile phone - are being launched.

Resembling an oversized chunk of gold bullion, the Slingbox allows you to tap into your own TV schedule and to the terrestrial, digital and cable programming you’d enjoy back home. It offers 16:9 widescreen TV viewing, has a built-in Freeview tuner, integrates with services such as Sky+, NTL and Telewest and enables you to record and play back content as well as watch live programming.

While you may be able to pick up coverage of, say, England against Paraguay while sunning yourself at a beachside bar, a clear advantage of the Slingbox is that it serves up the actual shows on offer back home. So rather than a Spaniard commentating on England’s performance, you’d get Clive Tildesley, John Motson or some other familiar name. Which is as it should be.

Launched last year in the US, the Slingbox is a triumph of simplicity and has sold more than 80,000 units since its US launch 14 months ago. Customers simply load up the software on a laptop or desktop PC, log on to a wi-fi or wired network and control the Slingbox using an onscreen remote control. The remote control can be chosen to precisely match the one you use from the comfort of your own sofa, too, since Slingbox has programmed in tens of designs.

The Slingbox is described as a 'one-to-one experience' by its creators, Slingmedia, who demonstrated it to PC Advisor last week. It can currently be used by only one person at a time, on a first-come-first-served basis, with no master switch to wrest back control and override your three-year-old’s devotion to CBeebies.

It relies on the availability and ubiquity of fast broadband and Wi-Fi connections and, thanks to the efficiency of its video codecs, its makers claim it can transmit TV quality programming and video.

The £180 inc VAT device is on sale from today from PC World stores and online.

Slingbox is not the only consumer device on which you’ll be able to enjoy TV access from anywhere: later today, PC Advisor will be getting its first look at Sony’s LocationFree, a similar concept that costs a more substantial £349 inc VAT but includes a Wi-Fi access point.

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