How to Record or Watch Video Content Away from Home
You can record or watch your home theater content when you're away from your home theater. Imagine watching a show that you’ve recorded on your DVR and having to hop on the train to work before it’s over. With the right hardware and software, you can take that content with you and watch it on a laptop or handheld device wherever you are (as long as you have Internet connectivity).
This is a relatively new area in home theater, and one that still has some bugs to work out, both technical and legal. But it’s something that you can do today and will become more common in the future.
Following are the first few fruits of this category of home entertainment gear:
TiVo Desktop: If you have a Series 2 or 3 TiVo DVR, you can use the TiVo’s Desktop software built into the product to take your recorded shows on the road with you. This isn’t an Internet-based product (such as the Slingbox). Instead, it uses your home network to transfer recordings from your TiVo to a Windows 2000, XP, or Vista laptop, or to an iPod or other PMP (portable media player) before you leave home. When the transfer is done, you can use TiVo’s software (a free download from TiVo’s Web site) on that device to watch your recorded programs whenever and wherever you like. TiVo Desktop also works with Mac PCs if you have Roxio’s Toast Titanium software.
Slingbox: The Slingbox AV is perhaps the coolest thing to come along the home theater and Internet pike in many years. It’s a funky-looking box that you connect to your home theater and to your home network/Internet connection. Slingbox hooks into your TV source devices (such as a cable or satellite set-top box, a DVD player, or a DVR) and allows you to remotely control, record, and watch video content. You can use a Slingbox to tune in to live TV (for example, catch the local baseball game while you’re on the road in your broadband-equipped hotel room) or to access recorded content on your DVR or DVD player.
The companion to Slingbox is SlingPlayer software, which resides on a Windows 2000 or XP computer and controls the Slingbox and let’s you view content across an Internet connection. SlingPlayer optimizes the content you’re viewing to the speed of your connection, so if you’re on a broadband connection, you can get a high-quality picture. SlingPlayer Mobile will allow this capability to work on any Windows Mobile device as well.
Sony LocationFree: Sony’s answer to the Slingbox, the LocationFree player performs similar tasks, sending live TV and content from various DVRs across an Internet connection to remote PCs.
Like the Slingbox, LocationFree lets you access your home TV programming — both live broadcasts and shows you’ve recorded on your DVR — from any remote location with a broadband Internet connection (such as a hotel or your office). The biggest difference between the two is that Sony’s system supports playing back content on the PSP handheld gaming device (which can connect to Wi-Fi wireless networks).