2.6
5 reviews
52

Sling Media SlingCatcher


$200.00 Released October, 2008

Product Shot 1 The Pros:High future potential depending on firmware revisions. Removes the need for multiple cable boxes. Works wirelessly which reduces the number of cables.

The Cons:Maximum resolution of 640x480. Default resolution is 320x240. Must be changed every time the device is started. No dedicated digital audio output.

First introduced in 2007 and finally released in October 2008, the SlingCatcher is the optional companion to the SlingBox that lets you watch SlingBox content on your television without the need for a computer.

Where to Buy

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Product Shot 2 The SlingCatcher connects to your network, and the Internet to stream live TV or recorded content from your SlingBox. Sling Media has also opted to include functionality that lets you stream digital content directly from your PC, similar to an Apple TV, or from a USB storage device that is connected right to the box. When connected to a PC the SlingCatcher is able to act as a remote terminal which lets you watch Internet video on your TV. Using the PC<->SlingCatcher requires the installation of the SlingProjector software which lets you define a region of your computer screen to project onto your TV. Note: as of the firmware available October 14th, 2008 the SlingCatcher's maximum resolution is 640x480, HD resolutions are promised in later firmwares.

Features

  • full SlingBox compatibility
  • USB 2.0 mass storage device support
  • Video Codecs: WMV, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, Xvid
  • Audio Codecs: P2, MP3, WMA, AAC, AC3
  • File Formats: .avi, .vob, .ifo, .ps, .ts, .mpg, .wmv, .asf, .mov, .mp4,.m4v, .mp3, .wma, .mp4a, .m4a, .wav
  • Connections: Ethernet, 2 USB, Component x 1, HDMI x 1, S-Video x 1, Composite x 1
  • price: $199.99
  • release date: October 8, 2008

User Reviews (5)

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Add Pros & Cons
52
ProScore
Pros
  • 4

    High future potential depending on firmware revisions

  • 3

    Removes the need for multiple cable boxes

  • 3

    Works wirelessly which reduces the number of cables

  • 1

    Great for travelers

  • 1

    good number of outputs - including HDMI

Cons
  • 4

    Maximum resolution of 640x480

  • 2

    Default resolution is 320x240. Must be changed every time the device is started

  • 2

    no dedicated digital audio output

  • 1

    Uses letter/pillar-boxing to fill in picture

  • 1

    long scanning times when a new USB drive is introduced to the unit

  • -2

    Vaporware

Comments (4)

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Fredrick
Fredrick: #sling_media_slingcatcher Nice post ruffi.

Compressed HD video is about 13 to 14 Mbps, depending on your cable / satellite provider, and OTA HD is about 19.3 Mbps. So your Comcast Internet connection won't be able to download HD video as it is limited to 6 Mbps.

I too tried the SlingCatcher, although on a local home network. The SlingCatcher was only connected to a 20" non-HD TV. No frames were dropped when I streamed it over the home network. I used D-Link's Powerline connectors to connect the SlingCatcher to my router over my home electrical network, while I had a direct connection between my SlingBox Pro HD and the router.

But the picture did look grainy at times. For instance, when watching Leno last night, Leno's suit was pixelated beyond belief. But other parts of the set were fine, and when other things were shown in the same broadcast, everything looked great. Commercials also looked non-grainy during Leno. So basically it was only Leno's suit that looked bad.

The overall picture is a bit softer than my cable source on the same TV, but it still looks very good when there are no artifacts introduced.

I'm not sure if I'm going to keep everything at this point. It is nice to have my satellite box accessible upstairs without running RG-6 cable throughout the house, but this isn't a cheap setup, and I'm not sure how HD will look on a home network if I do upgrade my TV upstairs to HD. Oct 14, 08
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ruffimonster
ruffimonster: #sling_media_slingcatcher

Let me preface by stating that I know almost nothing about A/V and bandwidth required to get a picture to my TV screen, so my ignorance may automatically devalue my post.

I purchased the recently released (Oct-2008) Slingbox Pro HD with a SlingCatcher to sling my HD cable service from DC to Atlanta in an effort to permanently get rid of one of my two monthly cable bills (one bill in each city). I have both devices connected directly to 100MBPS routers over short cables in both cities, using HDMI between device and respective TV/Cable box. I use Comcast in both cities and get their standard Internet package (6Mbps download/384Kbps upload).

I hooked up both devices very easily with no help from Tech Support.

I tested the Slingbox HD Pro on the local network in DC and, as expected, got a pretty decent HD picture on Slingplayer running on my laptop; I'd say the equivalent of nearly 720dpi with up to 2000kbps throughput on the local network to my 15 inch laptop screen.

I also tested locally in Atlanta between my laptop running an Apple HD Movie Trailer (as the SlingCatcher can display any video content, though it refuses to catch and sling sound for videos played in QuickTime). The resolution was good at about 720dpi, though the contrast or aspect ratio was a bit off; it was more than acceptable for my purpose if I could get that quality from my DC Slingbox HD Pro. Again, I'm using HDMI between SlingCatcher and TV, and TV max resolution is 1080i.

I was hoping to get slightly less decent resolution when slinging cross-country to a 37-inch television. To my disappointment, the kbps between DC Slingbox HD Pro and Atlanta SlingCatcher maxed at around 1200 (not bad, but not what I'd hoped, and the picture suffered as a result. The picture ended up looking like a grainy VHS tape, even at the highest firmware-limited resolution setting (more on that in a sec). An HD-quality picture may not be possible with the SlingCatcher over long distances, but if it is it definitely requires greater than a 384Kbps upload connection speed on the Slingbox (as many might expect, although I figured with compression and buffering they could get further than they did).

Worse, though, were three very annoying features of the SlingCatcher that must be revised.

1. The SlingCatcher defaults it's own resolution to 320x240 (equivalent of 275~ kpbs) every time I turn my SlingCatcher on. The picture quality is horrendous in this setting; unwatchable to anyone used to HD. It must be changed every time I turn the SlingCatcher on; it's not a sticky setting for my SlingCatcher. Annoying as hell, but acceptable in the short-term.

2. The highest resolution setting the SlingCatcher allows is 640x480. This is ridiculous as to get close to a high-resolution HD picture from that size your TV picture has to be around 12"x15" or something no one wants to watch on a TV, but which is perfect for watching.......................on a laptop. I NEED a higher resolution option, even if it means I need greater bandwidth from my devices to necessitate this requirement. This is a show-stopper for me; even if I supply greater upstream bandwidth the limit to resolution prevents the device from serving my purpose as a result.

3. In order to accommodate this technical limitation, the SlingCatcher also defaults the SCREEN SIZE to....... 12" x 15", leaving a huge black border larger than the screen around my 37" tv. This also happens EVERY TIME I turn on the SlingCatcher, as if the techs at SlingMedia realized I would want to watch my TV at its normal size but also knew that technical limitations insist that I try to enjoy it at a size I haven't watched since I got my first color TV over 20 years ago. I can change the screen size to Full, but then I get a picture that was grainy enough that I might as well have bought a SlingBox Classic; HD was nowhere to be found. The SlingCatcher produced no where near an HD picture at this size, even when watching HD channels.

This device works. It's fabulous for some uses, and perfect for getting rid of a cable box or two within the same house. But the software must be improved to support higher resolutions in order for SlingCatcher to support remotely slinging an HD picture from an HD Slingbox. In other words, if you get a SlingCatcher for remote (not network-local) viewing, don't expect to Sling an HD image.

Update:  Apparently SlingMedia plans to deliver an update to the SlingCatcher firmware that'll support Slinging an HD picture, but they haven't delivered a drop date for this update as far as I know.

Oct 14, 08
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jflynn4
jflynn4: #sling_media_slingcatcher After a long wait and lots of anticipation, I was one of the first to purchase the Slingcatcher. I have to say that the idea is a great one but the technology just isn't ready yet.

1. The advertising claims that it works on wireless. That's a half truth. While it will display still pictures from a PC, anything with motion has significant pixelation. Additionally, there are sound sync problems with videos from a PC to the screen.

2. Technical assistance is borderline at best. After a hour's wait on the phone to speak with someone (yes, an hour), I was linked to someone overseas who was very difficult to understand. In trying to find out how I could make the system work, I was initially told that it required a hard wire connection to a PC, not wireless, as wireless did not have the required bandwidth speed.

3. After relocating my router to ensure a direct connection both to the Slingcatcher and my laptop, I still experienced the same issue. So, back to technical assistance. I was first instructed to go through all of the normal disconnect / reconnect / reboot steps that tech assist typically prescribes. I was then told that my TV was probably not capable of displaying the proper screen size. After insisting that I was capable of displaying everything from 480i through to 1080i, the tech assist person placed me on hold for a few minutes.

4. I was then asked to download a piece of software that would allow tech assist to access my PC. Doing so, they accessed "www.speedtest.net" after whiich I was told that my problem was the speed of the DSL connection. Speedtest.net showed a download of 6 MPS (I have the fastest DSL connection available through AT&T) and an upload of over 500kps. While I was told that the download speed was "enough", tech assist tells me that the minimum upload speed must be at least 1 MPS for the system to work properly. I told them that this effectively disabled 95% of the american market which made no sense. The tech apologized and restated that the system required a minimum of 1 MPS upload speed and that there was nothing else to be done.

5. I returned the unit yesterday to Walmart (had purchased through Walmart.com) and am posting this review today.

Again, a great idea whose technology simply isn't ready yet. Very disappointing! Oct 12, 08
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Erik
Erik: #sling_media_slingcatcher I'm waiting to hear more about this device, but I am pretty much underwhelmed by all media streamers on the market. My Xbox + XBMC has yet to be beat. Why not make a device that can compete with XBMC in terms of versatility, UI, and all-around coolness? Jan 13, 07
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