SlingCatcher - first look

E&T was invited last week to take a sneak peak at Sling Media’s new media extender device, the SlingCatcher.

The concept of the SlingCatcher was first mooted by SlingMedia at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2007. The following year, the company exhibited a prototype of the device and it was widely expected that it would be available within a few months.

However, the SlingCatcher has yet to go on sale. But recently, SlingMedia announced that it was accepting advance orders for the SlingCatcher from US consumers and we can now reveal that it will be available well before Christmas (although we cannot confirm an exact date) – and here are our first impressions.

Finished in matt black, this Toblerone shaped device is designed to be connected to your TV and connects to your home wireless network – where it can receive a stream from a laptop device or a Slingbox connected to the wireless local area network or over the Internet.

The SlingPlayer for TV function should prove useful for any consumers wishing to transmit their subscribed content – such as sports, movies or a pay-per-view event to another room without the time and expense of installing a second set top box.

The SlingProjector enables users to project Internet and PC-based digital video and audio content – such as YouTube or the BBC iPlayer to a full-sized TV. You can choose which section of the PC screen you want to project.

You can also attach a USB storage drive formatted to FAT32 – and the Slingcatcher will search and index all the playable content so that you can play it on the attached TV. This function is called SlingSync and as its name implies you can also synchronise files from a media server or a folder attached to your PC which contains media content.

The picture rendering was quite sharp for both the SlingPlayer and SlingProjector functions – although it will always be limited by the quality of the video that it is streaming (for example, blocky YouTube). It took about 30 seconds to search and index a 100 gigabyte storage drive, which isn’t long, but it will have to reindex it each time the device is turned on or a new drive plugged in.

We will have a full review in E&T  when we get hold of one to test for ourselves.

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