Top positive review
491 of 518 people found this helpful
Great product, with 2 HD caveats
on October 21, 2008
Having been a prior user of the SlingBox Pro, I was already familiar with the SlingBox software and hardware setup. Receiving the ProHD it was quite easy to perform the setup and installation required to be "slinging" my TV all over the world (and around my home).
Despite having setup one of the the original devices before, I attempted to walk through the installation as a completely new user. The booklet gives clear, easy to understand directions for the multitude of ways in which this device can be setup. It isn't relegated to "just" HD; the SlingBox Pro HD can also sling your standard definition content over the world or over your own network as well. This does not mean, however, that a person couldn't be easily confused just due to the sheer amount of devices one could potentially control with the SlingBox Pro HD (or the original Pro for that matter).
Remember when setting up the hardware, the location of the IR sensors is crucial in your ability to control your devices over the Internet or the network.
Once you are finished setting up your SlingBox Pro HD, you are prompted to download and install the Sling Player software. Of the entire process, I have to say this is the most frustrating part. It would have been easy enough to deliver a CD with the software inside the box, however Sling Media chose to force you to download the software. The only time I can see this as being an issue is if you purchased the SlingBox Pro HD with the express intention of "slinging" your media around your house and not over the Internet (and even then really only if you have no Internet connection). Deduct a point for the 5-15 minutes you must spend downloading the software; as if the anticipation of getting the device working wasn't bad enough already!
Next up was actually installing the software and finding the device on the network. The software walks you through every step of the process. The most difficult part, and calling it difficult may be stretching the definition, is in figuring out what remote to use. Some devices you may have in your home have several hardware versions and also have remotes with different nuances which could potentially throw a monkey wrench in the works. You are presented with the layout and a picture of the remote, so as long as your remote is handy you should be able to compare it easily to what is on the install screen.
You must install the Sling Player software on every PC (laptop or desktop; or cell phone if you purchase the software for it) you wish to view your media from.
Now for the fun part, actually watching your media!
From home, you can sling HD media around your network with reckless abandon. Even with a "slow" network speed of 10 mbps, you can achieve the ability to sling content in HD. At lower speeds you may notice some minor artefacting and other compression issues, but this is really only due to the slower network speed. If you are using a 100 mbps or faster connection, this should shoot high quality HD content all over your house with no problems. The only down side in this is that if you are using wireless, you must remember THERE IS NO WIRELESS CAPABILITY built into the SlingBox Pro HD (or other SlingBoxes for that matter). I wish they had included the Sling Link Turbo, which allows you to connect the Sling Link Turbo to your network, another cable into your power line and network the SlingBox Pro HD via your electrical outlets, negating the need to run network cabling all over your house. Including wireless connectivity would also be a bonus, however there is no guarantee on wireless connection speeds, which is why it is not included as a feature. Given variances in wireless speeds and quality of connection, there would be no good way, yet, for the SlingBox to offer a consistent level of quality in the video it slings.
Now we delve into watching from anywhere around the world. The first HD caveat I mention in my title for this review, is one of HD media slinging. Unfortunately you must have a decent upload speed from your Internet connection to be able to receive a decent HD picture. The recommended upload speed for a consistently good HD picture while traveling and watching over the Internet is 1.5 mbps. My DSL connection is capped at 768 kbps, which means I cannot watch HD content while traveling as I am given choppy images and broken audio. You can, however, still watch the content, only you will need to set the SlingBox Pro HD to "down convert" the video you receive to standard definition quality. So if all you want is to be able to watch local sports or TV while traveling and don't mind it not being in standard definition, this is a great device. The other side of this caveat is that if you will only be watching while traveling and don't have a fast upload speed, you may be better served saving some money and going for the regular SlingBox Pro instead of the HD.
The other HD caveat is that the SlingBox Pro HD can only accept and output sources UP TO 1080i. This means that if you have a Blu Ray or other HD capable device that can output and is setup to output at 1080p, you will have to dial it down to 1080i output. 720p content is not affected.
Which brings us to connections. There is NO HDMI connection on this device. Not a single HDMI connection. Your options are:
composite (red, white, yellow)
svideo (still needs red and white for audio)
component (red, blue, green, uses either red and white for anlog audio or orange connection for digital audio)
coax (your cable connection)
composite (red, white, yellow)
svideo (still needs red and white for audio)
component (red, blue, green, uses either red and white or orange connection for audio)
The SlingBox Pro HD also has a USB connection for viewing media off of a USB thumb drive (may even work for a USB hard drive; I haven't tried it as of this writing)
You can control all sorts of devices with the SlingBox Pro HD, and especially important is the inclusion of an ATSC tuner within the Pro HD. What this means is that this SlingBox is prepared for the digital conversion we all keep hearing about on TV. The regular SlingBox Pro has only a regular NTSC tuner so is not future proof on its own (if you have a digital converter box, like the ones the government offers coupons for, the regular SlingBox Pro may still be an option).
One other "problem" is not being able to control the PS3. As the PS3 is one of the best selling Blu Ray players, I would have liked to have seen a way to manipulate it using Bluetooth connectivity from the SlingBox Pro HD. They missed the mark on this one, but only by a little. Hopefully they will allow for Bluetooth remote control connections in the next version of the SlingBox?
In the end, this device is amazingly nice. Very rarely does a device impress me as much as this. If you desire to watch HD sources all over your house, this is a great device to purchase. If you want to do the same with SD content, this will still work for you. If you want to watch HD media while traveling, this is the device to purchase (assuming you have a fast enough upload speed to the Internet); you can also use it for watching standard definition content while traveling, though again, if this is what you desire you may be better served with the regular SlingBox Pro and save a few dollars.
As long as you can look past the inability to input/output at 1080p and the Internet upload requirements, this is a great buy!