Slingbox + TiVo: More Uses Than Just Watching Recorded Shows

I should begin with a brief introduction: I have been a DirecTV + TiVo user for well over a year. After a few months of only using a “stock” DirecTiVo, I decided to move to the “dark side” and add a few “hacks.” The easiest way for me at the time was to use PTVupgrade’s PTVnet to add networking capability to my Samsung SIR-S4080R. I have since added four DirecTiVos to my network, and they also used PTVnet for networking. Due to my obvious interest in TiVo modification, I was asked by Lou Jacob to be a Moderator for the new community that contained his support forum – DVRplayground (also part of Capable Networks). Since that time, I’ve had more than one chat (and Halo 2 gaming sessions) with Matt Whitlock, and he has had me check out and post at the, now sadly gone, SlingCommunity (and TechLore). I hadn’t really paid much attention to the Slingbox until last week when I was asked to read some of Matt’s articles on the new Slingboxes. After doing so, I had the uncontrollable urge to go buy one (the A/V) for myself, especially since I seem to be spending more and more time in hotels (for work) and less time at home (another trip is coming up shortly). Now for the purpose of this article....

Viewing and Recording TiVo Programs
Not much to be said here, as this is probably the most obvious use of the Slingbox + TiVo combination. It is nice to be able to schedule recordings while I’m away using the “normal” method of doing so (the remote control). Of course, with a hacked TiVo, there are other options for setting programs to record, such as TiVoWebPlus.

 

Viewing TiVo Programs That Were Recorded on a Different TiVo
Using TiVo’s MRV (multi-room viewing) function, one can not only browse the Now Playing List (list of recorded programs) on the TiVo he is currently watching, but he can also see the NPL of other MRV-enabled TiVos on the network. If a program recorded on another TiVo is selected, it will be transferred to the TiVo currently being viewed, and can either be watched immediately or later; either way, it is recorded to the TiVo in front of the user (or in the SlingPlayer window, in this case). Note that in order to be able to use MRV with a DirecTiVo, a bit of hacking is necessary. One method of doing this can be found here.

Note the three DVRs listed at the bottom of the screenshot. Selecting one of them will display its Now Playing List.

 

Listening to Recorded Music and Viewing Photos
This one can be considered a “team effort.” Using a Slingbox, TiVo, and a computer on the TiVo’s local network, one can listen to MP3s and view JPEG files remotely using a TiVo function called HMO (home media option). As with MRV, in order to enable this with a DirecTiVo, some hacking is necessary, using the same procedure for MRV (linked above).

 

I noticed that when I listened to music files using this method, there was some definite “lag” while optimizing the stream in SlingPlayer. The music sounded as though it was being performed at a slower tempo with a lower pitch. After a few seconds, the issue went away.

There are other options for music and photos without using a Slingbox, of course. Two methods that come to mind are XP Professional’s Remote Desktop function and UltraVNC. Without either of those two methods, using a Slingbox + HMO is a viable option.

TiVo Hacking –Remotely
This one is definitely more for convenience than anything. A few nights ago, I decided to load a new kernel onto one of my TiVos, and the target TiVo just happened to be the one that is connected to my Slingbox. Normally, in order to reassure myself that whatever hacks I apply to that TiVo work OK, I have go outside and into my 10x12 Tuff Shed, which I had built as a workout room (electricity, telephone [using Vonage], and a TV with DirecTiVo, which is wired for Ethernet). I loaded the kernel using a telnet session and watched what happened in SlingPlayer after the “reboot” command. I got a little busy replying to posts on some bulletin boards, but after a few minutes, I got a little surprise with the sound of some program on A&E blasting out of my computer speakers. I guess everything went OK. Last night, I found how someone had used this very method (over the internet, at that), to test his new versions of TiVoWebPlus – on someone else’s TiVo! Read more on that here.

If anyone has any other uses for a Slingbox and TiVo, feel free to share in the comments section of this article. An interesting note – my wife saw the SlingPlayer window on my laptop while I was writing this article. She said, “I want to be able to do that.” At that point, it was difficult to  hide the fact that I had purchased a Slingbox. I explained to her that using the Slingbox at her place of work was easy; all I had to do was to copy the SlingPlayer directory to her flash drive, since she did not have the capability to install software on her computer at work.