Sling Media Slingbox Pro-HD review

There’s no HDMI input, the web interface can be slow and we wish it had wireless networking, but it’s still an easy way to stream video content over the internet.

Our Rating 
3/5
Price when reviewed 
250
inc VAT

Specifications

The Slingbox range plugs into your home video equipment and broadcasts its content over the internet, so you can watch your shows from any PC or Mac connected to the ‘net. There are also smartphone players, so telly addicts don’t even need to carry a laptop. It makes for a refreshing change from French TV for those on business abroad.

As the name suggests, the Pro-HD adds high definition video support. There are component inputs to connect to an HD TV box, blu-ray player or media player such as an Xbox 360, and component outputs to loop back out to your TV. There’s no HDMI input – as the Slingbox sends video back out over the internet, it’s unlikely to be compatible with the HDCP beloved of Sky HD boxes (see FAQ). This could be a problem as manufacturers phase out component outputs in favour of HDMI. You can also connect standard-definition devices to the Slingbox’s composite or S-Video ports. You’ll need to connect it to your home network – as there’s no built-in wireless, you’ll have to use an Ethernet cable or the SlingLink Turbo homeplug networking kit (£62 from www.amazon.co.uk).

Sling Media Slingbox Pro-HD rear ports

There’s also an integrated DVB-T tuner. Simply plugging the Slingbox into your aerial and scanning for channels lets you watch Freeview online without plugging the ‘box into any other equipment. However, the Program Guide isn’t available in the UK, so you have to choose channels manually. If you want an EPG you’ll have to plug the Slingbox into an external Freeview box.

Once you’ve got everything connected, the rest of the setup is done through an online wizard. This is clear enough, if sometimes painfully slow to load each step. Once the wizard has found a video signal on one of the ports, it prompts you to enter the name of the device plugged into the Slingbox so it can load the correct virtual remote control. This links with an IR transmitter cable that you position in range of your source equipment’s receiver. If your source isn’t listed, there’s no way to set a custom remote layout, though. The layout for our test Xbox 360 was also strange - there’s no ‘B’ button to go back a step, which makes the menu system unusable. You instead have to right-click and use the ‘clear’ option in a sub-menu to go back a step.

The setup wizard examines your router to see if any ports need to be opened in your firewall to access the Slingbox’s video stream from outside. Ours needed port 5001 to be opened for streaming to a mobile device such as the iPad, iPhone or Windows Phone 7, Android or Symbian mobile phones. We were surprised this couldn’t be done over UpNP and the setup wizard only provides instructions for a handful of routers – you’ll be better off going to www.portforward.com for help.

Once you’re set up, you can view TV in Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox (Chrome isn’t supported) or on your mobile with the SlingPlayer app. This is shockingly expensive, though, at around £18. Over a local network, picture quality was stunning – high-definition with few artefacts. There’s more compression and a lower resolution when viewing from outside your house, but it’s still watchable.

The Slingbox Pro-HD is a very specialised device. The lack of HDMI inputs could be a problem for those with modern Sky or cable boxes, but it’s useful if you want to watch Freeview over the internet. £250 buys a lot of TV shows from iTunes, though.

Basic Specifications

Rating ***
Media Streamer type internet streaming device

Audio Compatibility

Audio MP3 playback No
Audio WMA playback No
Audio WMA-DRM playback No
Audio AAC playback No
Audio Protected AAC playback No
Audio OGG playback No
Audio WAV playback No
Audio Audible playback No
Other audio formats N/A

Video Compatibility

Other video formats N/A

Image Compatibility

Image BMP support No
Image JPEG support No
Image TIFF support No

Network Interfaces

Wired network ports 10/100
Wireless networking support No

AV Interfaces

Minijack line outputs 0
Minijack headphone outputs 0
Stereo phono outputs 2
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs 1
Optical S/PDIF outputs 0
Total SCART sockets 0
HDMI outputs 0
Component outputs 1
S-video output 1
Composite outputs 1
Other connectors USB

Physical

Size 60x336x143mm
Power consumption standby N/A
Power consumption on 10W

Server Compatibility

Software included none
UPnP No
iTunes No
SlimServer No
SMB No

Buying Information

Price £250
Warranty one year RTB
Supplier http://www.tesco.com
Details www.slingmedia.com

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