DIY Friday: Place-shifting

Heard about Sling Media recently? They were recently acquired by EchoStar. Their product is really cool – stream video content, including live and recorded TV (in HD too!), to your laptop or cell phone anywhere you can get an internet connection. You buy a "Slingbox" – any one of three models – and it connects to your TV, Computer, DVD Player, etc… and allows you to access it over the internet.

This place-shifting functionality is starting to catch on. Microsoft recently announced the addition of functionality to Windows Media Center PCs allowing users to view TV schedules, manage recordings and view some content – although it does not appear to offer full streaming of all content like SlingBox.

Don’t have a Sling Box or a Windows Media Center PC? Well, you can do all of this now with your existing PC and some free software from the internet (this one is Windows only – OSX and Linux users will have to wait for another DIY post). The key is a cool piece of software called "Orb" (get it here). "Orb" runs on your PC and keeps a (configurable) record of your music, photos and videos. It "creates a secure media portal to your home PC" that you can access from any computer, cell phone or PDA connected to the internet. (More from the info page here)

Even better, Orb has a detailed guide for creating and installing widgets on computers, start pages and blogs – so you can show your favorite media to your friends and keep up to date with your latest content. You can even view your Orb content on your Wii, as this YouTube video shows. For that matter, you can also you your Wii and Orb to view your Webcam.

Orb is a really cool piece of software – and it’s hard to believe so much useful functionality is free! Definitely check this out.

And one last thing. We also liked the Slingbox alternative described by "wasteotime" on Instructables.com. Read the whole article for specific details, but it basically involves routing the audio from your radio or TV into your computer, then calling your computer via Skype to listen into the audio in real time. Compared to Slingbox and Orb, it’s only a realistic alternative for a very limited use case. But our favorite part of this is how you change the channel – just call someone at the house and have them do it!

So now your content can follow you wherever you go. Start watching!


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