Gearing up for March Madness

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It’s the first week of March and I’m starting to gear up for my 3 favorite TV viewing events of the year; namely The Masters Golf Tournament, the NHL playoffs and the NCAA hoops tournament. This year, I’ve raised my game by upgrading my key viewing components:

ROKU 2 XS

One of earliest articles here was about installing and using a Roku streaming video player tied to Netflix. Two years later and the range of streaming video channels available has increased to over 300 channels. Roku now offers Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and even HBO Go for the latest and greatest content as well as sports offerings such as NBA Game Time and NHL Gamecenter.

Now for the upgrade, my old original Roku player was moved to the kids TV area upstairs and I then started the install process for my new Roku 2 XS. First impressions, the Roku 2 is significantly smaller than its predecessor. I went with a wired connection to my home network (Wi-Fi b/g/n is another option) and an HDMI cable to my media center’s receiver.  As an added perq, the XS model came with a game controller and a free version of Angry Birds.

Start-to-Finish: 10 minutes and now I have full 1080p HD video available and I’m all set for the NHL play-offs.

SLINGBOX PRO-HD

I’ve also had a first generation Slingbox as part of my set-up for the past few years. For those that have never used one, it allows you to “place shift” your video to another location. No, place-shifting is not a mutant alien weapon. It is the ability to take your home TV output (cable, satellite, etc.) and “sling” it across the Internet to a different device such as a laptop, a tablet computer or even a smartphone. My original version did not allow me to watch video on the iPad and the quality was very good but far from HD.

It was time to upgrade for viewing The Masters and March Madness. Nothing like sneaking a peak of the first game of the NCAA play-offs (always a noon Thurdsay start) or an early round of The Masters away from home on my laptop!

This time, I splurged and went for the top-of-the-line Slingbox PRO-HD. This unit allows me to control and watch three different video feeds – one HD, one SD and one via coax cable. Presently, I’m using the HD feed and the quality is spectacular. More importantly, you can download the viewing app ($30 in the iTunes store) for your iPad or smartphone and watch HD-quality television on your mobile devices. A few caveats: 1) You need a wired connection for your Slingbox to connect to your home network or use their SlingLink product to connect using your in-home electrical wiring. 2) If you want to watch while outside of your home, you will need to modify your home settings. This may be a bit intimidating for some but there are excellent on-line support tools to help you.

Start-to-Finish: 30 minutes and I’m now sitting on the back deck with a beverage watching live games on my iPad in HD … it’s like having my big-screen HDTV transformed via a shrink-ray.

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Ron Remy
Ron Remy
Ron Remy

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