Although times may be economically hard for many of us, thanks to the advent of Freesat we’re not forced to swell the coffers of Sky in order to have access to scores of satellite TV channels. There are any number of set-top boxes available from as little as £20 – but if you want to emulate some of the exceptional features that Sky has in its armoury, then you have to look at the world of the PVR or ‘personal video recorder’.
EchoStar has been active in this field for some time, and after its recent acquirsition of Sling Media, the specialists in ‘place-shifting’ TV viewing, the company has now produced an impressive offspring, the SlingLoaded HDS-600RS, which extends that ‘slinging’ to iPhones, Android handsets and tablets.
The HDS-600RS is the world’s first HD digital video recorder (DVR) to combine Freesat+ features with remote viewing and recording.
It’s a visually striking piece of equipment with sharply angled sides, flashing red control icons and an equally unconventionally designed remote. Setup is extremely easy – plug in the power lead, attach the twin cables from your satellite dish, connect to your TV via HDMI or Scart, and the SlingLoaded HDS-600RS will scan and sort through all the channels ready for viewing.
A second Scart is available for connecting to a separate VCR – and there’s a choice between optical audio or stereo audio outputs for external sound systems. The device boasts two USB 2.0 ports but curiously neither can be used to play videos or show photos – apparently they’re just there for future software upgrades (so why two?). Finally, there’s the all-important Ethernet for your Internet conviction, which is where Sling Media’s assets come into play.
Slinging to mobiles and tablets
The HDS-600RS’s SlingLoaded ‘TV anywhere’ system allows you to stream programmes not only to your PC or Mac but also to mobile phones (currently Android and iPhone, with Windows Phone 7 promised in the future) and tablets, using an app costing £17.99. Only standard definition pictures can be streamed to phones but the EPG at present lists four HD channels (BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV1 HD and Channel 4 HD) among the 150+ digital TV and radio channels.
With 500GB of memory, you can record 300 hours of SD TV and 100 hours of HD with the ability to pause, record and rewind live TV and set series record. The twin tuners mean you can watch one channel live while you record another, but if you’re watching on your phone or tablet you can only see the live channel, which is somewhat limiting.
You have to bear in mind that if your router is in a different room to your TV, you’ll need a bridging system like the SlingLink TURBO to establish an internet connection, which will set you back a further £70. Also, the nearest rival to the SlingLoaded HDS-600RS – the Humax HDR-Fox T2 – lacks the phone and tablet ‘slinging’, but it’s £50 cheaper – and it can use its USB port for video and photo playback.
Contact: 01535 659000
- Simple setup and successful slinging.
- No USB playback and pricey.
The EchoStar SlingLoaded HDS-600RS cleverly and stylishly extends the range of the conventional Freesat PVR to allow distance viewing on mobile phones and tablets as well as hefty record capacities - but it is expensive.