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SlingCatcher Review: Ready For Prime Time?

Connecting the SlingCatcher

You get all the connections you need on the SlingCatcher – but not all the cables.

You get all the connections you need on the SlingCatcher – but not all the cables.

The front of the SlingCatcher is plain; apart from the logo (which lights up to show it’s received a command from the remote control) , there are only power and network indicators. The back is crammed with connectors: composite video, S-Video, component video and S/PDIF digital audio or HDMI. That means you should be able to connect to just about any TV screen you come across (although you may have to poke around the back of a hotel TV to find the connectors) .  

Unfortunately, you don’t get cables to go with all the connectors – just composite video, which you can also use for analog audio with component video. If you want a higher-quality image from S-Video, component video or HDMI, you’ll need to buy the extra cable yourself, so remember to add that to your budget. Your TV may well have come with whichever of those cables you can connect to it, but you’re probably already using it to connect another device – and if you’re in a hotel, there are rarely spare cables to hand.

There are two USB ports on the back of the SlingCatcher, which means you can plug in a large external USB drive to keep content you want to watch over and over again and still have a port free to plug in a USB stick for files you’ve copied from a PC. But if you want to watch content from another TV or directly from your PC – YouTube videos or programs from Hulu, for instance – you’ll need to connect the SlingCatcher to your network.

Connect the SlingCatcher to your network and it will find your Slingbox automatically

Connect the SlingCatcher to your network and it will find your Slingbox automatically

The SlingCatcher doesn’t have Wi-Fi; Sling says that even802. 11n isn’t fast enough to give you consistent streaming video, especiallywith the number of cables and components under and around the TV that can cause interference. There’s an Ethernet port on the back and this will give you the best connection, but if you can’t run a network cable to your TV, Sling suggests using the SlingLink TURBO powerline Ethernet adapter. As with any other HomePlug device, the quality depends on the state of the electrical cables in your walls and you have to plug directly into a power outlet, not an adapter or surge protector, to get the highest bandwidth. However, in this dayand age, any wired connection is an inconvenience.