back to article Sling Media Slingbox Pro-HD network TV tuner

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... Slingbox Pro HD Sling Media's Slingbox Pro-HD: streams HD - but not Freeview HD Heck, even Sony gives its …

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FAIL

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.

Neil.

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FAIL

A shame, really

Sling started out with a great idea, but they've got increasingly keen on making you log into their own servers in order to access your own box. And their smartphone app prices are laughable. Great products stymied by bad business decisions.

When is the open standards version going to take over?

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FAIL

Most hated feature: Sling Account

I have the original Slingbox Solo, which is perfect for my requriements (to watch my subscription TV while away from home). On the road I'm not bothered about great picture quality since most hotel internet access is typically a long way short of being able to support this regardless of the capbility of my home broadband. When the upgraded Sling Player software was released I was looking forward to having the instant rewind feature. However, I stayed with the older 1.5 software because the newer versions require you to have a Sling Media account. I hate and stay away form any product that puts such limitations on the purchaser. I also refuse to pay for the mobile player, it should be free! I am using the Android Sling Player I might add, but like I said, I refuse to pay for it ;)

Until Sling Media bring their hardware bang up to date with HDMI 1.4 support and stop mandatory need for an online account, I'll stick with the older model. Does the Slingbox range even have much life left in it, given that most TV networks are now offering online streams and then there's the iPlayer, Hulu, Miro, etc...

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Vulkano

I'd be interested in a review of one of these if you get the chance..

http://www.monsoonmultimedia.com/products.html

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Anonymous Coward

The Vulkano is better IMO

I have one Mike, the software is a little buggy at the min, its still early days.

I'm way happier with the picture quality, also the Vulkano does IR learning too.

The Slugbox would have been great if the HD version came out the same time world wide, its too late in the day now and loads of people who had a Slugbox have replaced them.

You can't change the ports on the Vulkano which is the only short fall, the big plus is that the players are FREE.

http://placeshiftingenthusiasts.com/mm/

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JDX
Gold badge

UK Broadband

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?

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Silver badge
Thumb Up

FAIL

Most Euro world setboxes will only do SD on component.

You need "freeview HD" even for Irish SD. This is ten years out of date,

Good review for pointing out the shortcomings!

Thanks.

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Thumb Down

Real shame

I bought an original slingbox a few years ago and found it operated very well.

However, times have moved on. I now have an iPhone, pretty good 3G coverage (places I tend to visit, at least) and TvCatchUp

I was watching F1 qualifying earlier in the year on at the end of Southport pier ...

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Compression

Most cable/satellite companies are far south of 18Mbps. Some are not even 8Mbps and that is for 1080 resolution.

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Stop

And don't forget....

...your superfast 50mb Broadband, will have still a relatvily poor upload speed.

"What does 50Mb broadband let you do?

In a nutshell, you'll get a download speed of up to 50Mb, with an upload speed of up to 1.5Mb.

(Source Vigin Media)

And that's proberbly shared with 500 other people.

But of course some people believe the hype.

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Boffin

What you really want...

1000 Mbps network

Record via HDMI in

transmit/receive HDMI over IP on standard home networks The Internet

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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. :-)

--

Chris

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Welcome

re "UPLOADING HD video at real-time speed?"

"Does typical asymmetric UK broadband support UPLOADING HD video at real-time speed?"

An excellent question. 2.5Mbit/second is all you'll get out of standards-based ADSL2+ anywhere in the world (not just the UK), and it needs Annex M for that, which in the UK means you can only get it in places where an Annex M supplier (ie not BT, maybe Be) provides the service. You also need to be quite close to the exchange to get the full 2.5Mbit.

Sensible people would have a hard time expecting to get viewable sustained HD out of Annex M even on the bestest quality line there is, especially given that the Slingbox doesn't have the option of multiple passes over the input to get bestest compression.

Obviously cablecos, VDSL customers (BT "Infinity" etc), and FTTP customers may have different options in terms of upstream speed. But in the UK at least, the best most people can expect for a while is ADSL2+ Annex M.

Thanks for the question, hope you enjoyed this answer.

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Grenade

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

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Unhappy

Stick to the older SB products

IF you stick to the SB products developed before they got bought by the satellite guys you will be okay for simple place shifting. I have an old classic with Freeview tuner and use the 1.5 software, works great for watching UK TV in the US or France while on holiday.

Also the author should refer to the Sony Locationfree product before he congratulates them on pricing policy. They charged per PC (licence per PC) which if you still have a LF product you are bugger as they no longer sell the software. In the US they gave it away free when they dropped the LF product, in Europe and the UK they just stopped selling it and ignored their existing customers. A typical Sony action, screw Europe and pacify the US. I used to buy Sony until they stopped supporting their products.

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Silver badge

well

not quite the same but tvcatchup and XBMC does a cracking job for me.

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I have one of the early sling boxes

Back then you had to pay for the phone app (Symbian version) and you had to pretend to be from America to get it. Always thought paying for a phone app was a waste of money as you have to buy nonsense like this again when you change phone manufacturer. But thats just me ranting again.

Are you able to record streams from it to watch later? Handy in a hotel room to download a TV episode or two overnight via wifi to watch on the long train ride home, but the Sling people never liked it.

Good old Slingcorder let you do that, as long as you had an older version of the Sling Player software.

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Megaphone

disappointing

I agree with redpola - this is heading to commercial suicide. These companies (incl Apple) always put the content providers ahead of the consumers.

I've been trying and failing to investigate if Slingbox could stream to an Apple TV v2, or Boxee Box. But failed to find any answers.

Streaming from the TV companies is an option but there are too many constraints as I see it: Match of the Day - forget it; TV >1 week old - forget it; Films - pay again despite recording it on Sky.

Being in the UK I was hoping to use Sky+HD with it, to stream around the house and to my iphone. This would be a killer app in my opinion.

The problems being there's no HDMI in or thru'. This means another 2 pieces of kit: an HD Fury HDMI to component (~£100-200) and an HDMI input splitter (~£30).

Suddenly that £20 extra for the iphone app is looking like a bargain.

I'm amazed there's no PC software to do this. Surely an extension to something like ORB with a USB IR blaster would be possible. Run it on a HTPC. Maybe the HDMI in and thru would still be a challenge?

Can anyone out there provide some insight into PC based options?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: disappointing

Bear in mind, you can get an Elagto Netstream DTT for £230 and it will stream Freeview to a £3 iPhone/iPad app over your LAN - or over 3G if you have EyeTV installed on a Mac.

I think charging £3 for the app is cheeky, but a darn sight less so than charging 18 quid.

The Netstream is configured locally through an on-device webpage.

http://www.reghardware.com/2010/04/05/review_peripherals_elgato_netstream_dtt/

PS. This review comes from a time before Elgato introduced streaming direct to iDevice: http://www.reghardware.com/2010/11/12/elgato_netstream_to_stream_to_ipad/

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