Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Vulkano slings your home TV

5/02/2012

The NBA playoffs are in full swing, but might be out of reach of the TV channels that are showing your team's games. That can happen if you're at work or traveling and there's either no TV handy or it's not showing the game you want.

Times like that can earn Monsoon Multimedia's Vulkano an MVP award. The Vulkano uses the Internet to deliver live video from your home TV to a remote device. That device could be your office or portable computer, a smart phone or a tablet. 

The Vulkano's basic version, called the Flow, is a keyboard-sized slab that connects through cables to your home TV and, with a cable or Wi-Fi, to your home network. At the remote end, you can download a install a program on a Windows or Mac PC or an app on an Apple, Android or Blackberry phone or tablet. The Android apps are free but the Apple versions cost $12.99.

Once both ends can talk to each other, your remote device becomes an extension of your TV. Vulkano's channel guide or a pop-up remote control lets you find and select a channel. After a bit of buffering, you get live video with sound.

The picture quality will vary depending on the speed of your connection and the screen size of your device. It's quite good on a 4G phone but slightly rougher on a tablet, especially when there's action on the screen. Video is also better if it comes from a high-definition channel.

If your device has an option for HDMI output, you can route the picture to a monitor or digital TV, but be prepared for the picture quality to degrade on a larger display.

The Vulkano works much like the better-known Slingbox Solo. But the Vulkano Flow costs $99 compared to $179 for the Solo.  Monsoon also sells a $249 version called the Blast that incorporates a digital video recorder.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.

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