Sling Media Slingbox Pro-HD network TV tuner
Out of tune?
Review It's really hard to recommend a product from a vendor who, having taken £250 for the hardware, then expects you to fork out a further £18 to get the best out of your purchase. At least you get all the cables you need...
Sling Media's Slingbox Pro-HD: streams HD - but not Freeview HD
Heck, even Sony gives its iDevice apps away for free - Apple ditto. is Slingbox creator Sling Media really so tight that it can't be as equally generous to its customers?
Its parsimony might not be so bad if said hardware - the latest in the Slingbox line - delivered a more consumer friendly experience than it does.
The model in question is the Slingbox Pro-HD. As a product already adjusted for the UK market - all tuner-packing British Slingboxes have supported Freeview - you'd expect the last two characters in the new one's name to indicate support for the latest in free-to-air digital TV: Freeview HD.
Not a bit of it, alas. 'HD' here means that, like the three-year-old Slingbox Pro, it can accept up to 1080i input from other set-top boxes, thanks to two sets of component-video inputs on the back. Four letters are missing from that last sentence: H, D, M and I, the connector rather a lot of folk use to hook up their entertainment kit to their tellies, these days.
No shortage of portage - well, except HDMI...
Like the older Pro, the Pro-HD supports composite-video input too, and s-video, and it has analogue and digital audio ports as well. Networking is handled through a 10/100Mb/s Ethernet port, and there's a pass-through co-ax pair to take the feed from your aerial to the on-board tuner and send it on to another device.
Next page: Truly HD? Really, truly HD?
Stress the £18!
I just bought one of these and am hugely disappointed. The biggest failures are a) no HDMI (what year is this?!), b) No FREEVIEW HD! And c) The viewer app for iPhone is LUDICROUSLY expensive.
Honestly, this device stinks of stifled innovation and design-by-committee. The price of the iPhone app is unforgivable though. Impossible to justify, a matter of seconds to fix. Crap.
I'm probably returning mine to amazon purely on the strength that I never expected to pay more £ to use this device for the intended purpose.
Slingmedia joins my list of "professionally suicidal" companies.
Owned by EchoStar
Incisive review. Slingboxes are set-top boxes, with all that implies: primarily designed around the aspirations of broadcasters and content providers, not the punter. The company is owned by set-top box manufacturer EchoStar -- check them out.
I smelt a rat back in 2006, when I discovered that Sling Media had begun encrypting the data the Slingbox streams across your network. Up to then a third party had been providing software that enabled Slingbox users to record the stream to a hard drive -- a function notably missing from the official Slingbox client software.
I argued the point with Brian Jaquet, at the time their head of PR worldwide. It was evident to me that the encryption had been introduced to shake off the third party recording feature -- probably so SlingMedia could sell its own recording solution. But his response astonished me.
The reason for no recording, and for defeating third party recording, Jaquet told me, was to preserve the rights of the content providers, and to ensure that only one client was able to watch a stream at any one time. I pointed out that the Slingbox was taking unencrypted input receivable by anybody with a digital TV tuner and funnelling it into a proprietary encrypted stream for single viewing, and that this was completely inappropriate for a Freeview broadcast. Jaquet was adamant that the content was sacrosanct and told me categorically that here in the UK a household would require a separate licence for each TV set it owned, a fee structure it would be illegal for Slingmedia to disrupt with its technology.
I pointed out that his premise was incorrect -- here in the UK a single TV licence covers an entire household, and in point of law the reception of a Slingbox stream on a remote Internet connected laptop would also be covered by that same licence as long as the laptop were not plugged into the mains at the time (bizarre, but true -- I'd recently researched this, although it may be different now). Jaquet insisted that I was wrong, and the conversation terminated shortly afterwards.
Slingbox? The name tells you what to do with it. :-)
needs an account?
need an account so your client can reach the box? huh? Does that mean you have to be on
an internet connected network and cant just use the device around the house?
what if I can only get to my network via VPN?
lack of Freeview HD = fail
lack of HDMI = fail
lack of free App for kit you've just bought = fail
lack of 'just plug in and work, no need to register with big brother' = fail
Does typical asynchronous UK broadband support UPLOADING HD video at real-time speed? Unless I misunderstood the idea of SlingBox is to upload through your home broadband, through SB's servers, so you can view it remotely... is the internet infrastructure really up to it especially with upload speeds being slower, fair-usage policies, etc?
I'd be interested in a review of one of these if you get the chance..