Friday, September 12, 2008

The Slingbox Adventure: Hope and Despair

We were so thrilled to have internet, but we still had no t.v. HughesNet is only an internet provider. We considered getting a Directv satellite dish and service from Paradise computers at a cost of $1900. for the dish plus installation plus whatever programming package we would choose. That seemed ridiculous. We considered tapping into our friend's satellite and running a cable to our house, but we weren't sure if the distance would be too great. The cable t.v. company had attempted to run a cable up our hill, got about 2/3 of the way up and the string (literally a string!) that they were using to pull the cable through the underground pipe broke. So they quit! That was one year ago. Who knows how long it will take to find another piece of string and give it another try.

Our son-in-law, who is just so knowledgeable about all things electronic, suggested a Slingbox. We had never heard of it, didn't know what it was or what it did. He said his company uses them a lot. It's a device that attaches to the host t.v. and via the internet can then be viewed remotely on a monitor or even a t.v. Huh? Lance said we could try out the one his company owns and if it worked well and we liked it, he would buy one and attach it to his t.v. at home allowing us to access whatever programming he gets, plus his Tivo. Sounded good to us. He had to e-mail instructions to us. We then downloaded the software for the Slingbox and followed his remaining directions for connecting to his t.v. at work in L.A. We got stuck and had to call our daughter, so she tried it herself in order to talk us through it. A small t.v. screen popped up on our monitor, we pressed play and viola! there was Dr. Phil!! We were so impressed. Lance had said we could play with it for about an hour until it would be needed by some of his colleagues. So we channel surfed. Rachel also tried to change channels and received a message saying that Roatan had control!

There was a fly in the ointment, however. Remember in my previous blog when I mentioned that we had a cap of 200MB per day on downloads? Well, we greatly exceeded our limit that first day. The Slingbox download alone was quite large, but the streaming video was huge. We noticed that our computers were operating very slooooowly that second day. When Don went online and checked our usage, he saw the overage. We made one more stab at t.v. viewing on day 3. We watched 15 minutes of the Los Angeles morning news and then later checked the usage posting (there's about a 2 hour lag) and found that 15 mins. translated to 57MB. Just one hour of t.v. viewing would exceed our daily limit. Clearly this wasn't going to work.
So, we still have no t.v. and with that daily limit, I'm not even going to be able to watch LOST through the internet.

We're currently looking for a Directv dish that Don can install himself like he did at our St. Louis house. Paradise Computers sells a small dish, smaller than what our friend, Dennis, has. He said the difference is that Directv has a second satellite that sells programming to Central America and uses those smaller dishes. They are too small to be able to pick up the programming from the larger satellite that we get in the States. We're holding out for the larger dish and LOST.

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