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Bottom Line: The Slingbox M1 is an odd piece of hardware that fills a very specific niche, but it fills that niche quite effectively.
I don’t know about you all, but I use my iPhone and iPad to watch Netflix videos all the time. It’s just so handy to be able to pull up a streaming video right before bed or to watch something else while the TV is in use.
Well the Slingbox M1 is kind of like that; kind of. It’s also quite a bit different, but no less interesting.
The Slingbox M1 essentially lets you broadcast the signal from your cable box to your iOS device and your computer - with the appropriate apps, of course. This means that you can use your iPad as a second screen, watch something on TV without moving to whichever room has the TV in it, or even catch up on local news and sports while you’re out of town. So long as you have an internet connection you can stream the signal from your cable box straight to your other devices.
It’s not just for watching, either. You can also program in favorite stations, change channels, and browse through your cable provider’s line-up. Pretty much anything you could do with your cable box can be done through the Slingbox M1, actually - even programming your DVR with a virtual remote. Although I will say that the in-app guide feature tends to be somewhat inaccurate when it comes to channel numbers and scheduling.
There are limits to what the hardware can do, however. As cool as it is to be able to use your iOS device as a second TV screen, it’s just that: a second screen. You won’t be able to watch something on one channel while someone else is watching another. So if you go out of town and want to watch that episode of Adventure Time you’ve recorded, but someone back home is using the TV, you’re either going to have to check back later or fight over it.
While it’s uses are a bit limited, the Slingbox M1 is very good at what it does. It won’t replace Netflix or Hulu, but it’s a great way to maintain access to your favorite TV stations whenever you go out of town or even just out of the room.